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Waste Not, Want Not

A Guide for Feeding the Hungry and Reducing Solid Waste Through Food Recovery (PDF) (59 pp, 157KB, about PDF

Whether you call it feeding the hungry or food recovery, such efforts are all part of a growing national movement that is working daily to ensure good food goes to the dinner table instead of going to waste.

In the United States, we not only produce an abundance of food, we waste an enormous amount of it. More than one quarter of America’s food, or about 96 billion pounds of food a year, goes to waste—in fields, commercial kitchens, manufacturing plants, markets, schools, and restaurants. While not all of this excess food is edible, much of it is and could be going to those who need it.

Food waste is not only unfortunate in terms of the lost opportunity to feed hungry Americans but also in terms of the negative effects on our environment. The nation spends an estimated $1 billion a year to dispose of excess food. That is a waste of both food and money, however not all food is appropriate for human consumption. Livestock farmers use some excess as animal feed. Renderers and other businesses recycle many forms of excess food into other products. Food scraps can be composted to create a valuable fertilizer.

A food waste reduction hierarchy — feeding people first, then animals, then recycling, then composting — serves to show how productive use can be made of much of the excess food that is currently contributing to leachate and methane formation in landfills. This guide helps explain how any state or municipality, as well as any private business that deals with food, can reduce its solid waste by facilitating the donation of wholesome surplus food according to the food hierarchy.

This guide is about what YOU can do. It lists ways you can join the growing food recovery movement. In short, it provides a framework to help you protect the environment while making a difference in the daily lives and futures of hungry families across our Nation.

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