Food loss and waste occur along every step of the food system, from harvest or slaughter, to processing and packaging, and finally to kitchen preparation. Feeding America, an organization dedicated to capturing excess food and providing it to people in need, estimates that 70 billion pounds of food are going to waste each year in the United States. At the same time, there are nearly 42 million people in this country affected by hunger and food insecurity. We have the opportunity to overcome this contradiction through individual actions and food recovery programs like the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Food Recovery Challenge.
Through the Food Recovery Challenge, the EPA promotes the use of sustainable food management practices at universities, hospitals, restaurants, and businesses across the country. Their recommended food recovery hierarchy prioritizes reduced hunger by promoting the donation of excess viable food to food banks and shelters before the donation of scraps to animals or the recycling of waste into fuel or compost. Washington University is a Challenge participant and received recognition from the EPA in 2014 for its reduction in solid waste and innovative food recovery programs.
Help us continue to reduce waste and get food to the people who need it most by buying only what you can consume, freezing or preserving produce so it stays fresh longer, and supporting food waste diversion programs like The Campus Kitchen. You can also take action by donating to or volunteering at a local food pantry.