As Much as 40 Percent of All Food is Wasted – Even as People Go Hungry

By Chris Adams

You’ve seen the foods tossed in the trash at restaurants, and the images of grain rotting in silos. But guess who is responsible for most of the food that gets wasted in the United States?

Look in the mirror.

According to ReFED, an advocacy organization aiming to reducing U.S. food waste, households are responsible for 43 percent of the nation’s wasted food. Restaurants are responsible for 18 percent, farms 16 percent, grocers and distributors 13 percent, and food service operations and manufacturers the rest.

The foods wasted are everything you might buy at the grocery: dairy products; vegetables; fruits; grains; sugar and sweets; meat, poultry and fish.

In a session with National Press Foundation fellows, JoAnne Berkenkamp of the Natural Resources Defense Council detailed a smorgasbord of waste – and noted it comes during a time 40 million Americans – about 12 percent of the population – are classified as “food insecure.”

Berkenkamp talked about efforts to boost food rescue and showed how some cities are in a position to recover and use far more food.

There are challenges, of course. Even if the food is free, shipping and logistics aren’t. Beyond that, the quality of food varies widely.

But there are also innovations in ways to rescue more food, even while boosting quality and freshness. Some corporate players are getting into the game, including the Kroger grocery chain, food service giant Aramark and Walmart. And some states are using regulations or tax incentives to cut the amount of food going into landfills and increasing how much of it goes to food banks.

This program is funded by Bayer. NPF is solely responsible for the content.

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