Once upon a time there was a farmer who was growing potatoes. When harvest time came, he sold about two thirds of his crop to grocery stores, food companies (for canning and freezing) and a local farmer’s market. The rest remained unharvested, even though he knew there were hungry people he could help feed, but he didn’t have the money to harvest the potatoes and get them to a food bank. The disappointed farmer was about to cut his losses, when this true story got a happy ending.
Northern Illinois Food Bank, one of 200 food banks in the Feeding America network, came to the rescue. They used donated funds to harvest the remaining potatoes and transport them to the food bank. Their volunteers packaged them into family-friendly bags, so the trucks could get them to local food pantries.
Food banks across the country are rescuing tons of foods on a regular basis – from retailers, farmers and the community.
If you have been following my recent posts, you know I’ve been writing about EPA’s Food Recovery Hierarchy, and how we all can help prevent the enormous amount of food wasted each year. It’s hard to fathom, but more than 20 pounds of food per person every month goes uneaten.
Feeding hungry people is one of the best uses for food that would otherwise be wasted, which not only benefits people in need, but also society, the community and the environment. If you want to know how you can help, here are some ideas to get you started:
- Volunteer (as an individual or organization) at your local food bank to sort and pack food that has been donated by product partners. It will be rewarding and fun and you will soon discover “many hands make light work.”
- Donate money to food banks so they can purchase nutritious foods, such as milk. Milk is one of the most requested foods at food banks, but the least donated. By donating through the Great American Milk Drive, food banks can provide vouchers for fresh milk to their clients.
- Encourage your hospital, company or organization to join EPA’s Food Recovery Challenge (FRC) as a participant or endorser. Read stories from the 2015 Food Recovery Challenge award winners, about how they delivered healthy surplus food to those who needed it.
You can become leaders in your community by helping collect nutritious, unused food and redirecting it to neighbors in need through local food banks, soup kitchens, pantries and shelters. Together we can help feed families, not landfills.
This is the third post in a six-part series. Click below for the other posts in this series: