Finding Solutions to Food Waste

Despite the millions who are suffering from hunger in America, 40 percent of the nation’s food goes uneaten. Solutions for reducing or recycling food waste are imperative, and some restaurants are setting the example.

| June 17, 2013

  • Restaurant food waste
    Forty percent of America's food goes uneaten.
    Photo by Fotolia/Feng Yu

  • Restaurant food waste

Reposted with permission from Harvest Public Media.

Nearly 50 million Americans lack the resources or funding to know where their next meal will come from, according to 2012 hunger documentary “A Place at the Table. But, it’s not as if we don’t have enough food for all. In fact, the answer to solving problems like hunger could be in our garbage.

According to a 2009 study  released by the National Institutes of Health, 40 percent of the nation’s food goes uneaten. Bloomberg Businessweek estimates that value is equivalent to $180 billion worth of food. That’s a resource that could possibly feed the 1 in 7 Americans who is using the nation’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, commonly referred to as food stamps, a service that cost taxpayers $78 million in 2012.

The food waste problem, though, doesn’t end there. All of that food waste winds up somewhere, most often in one of the nation’s 1,900 landfills. Food dumped in landfills can break down and produce methane gas, a greenhouse gas with 20 times the comparative impact on climate change than carbon dioxide, according to the EPA.

So, how do we decrease food waste? Both public and private organizations are addressing the issue, searching for solutions. 

An Online Challenge

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are sponsoring the Food Waste Challenge, their attempt to decrease food waste. The program will create an online forum where businesses and government agencies across the country can list the activities and practices they have implemented to reduce, recycle and reuse food waste.

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