Nearly 40% of all food in the United States is wasted every year. That is over $166 billion in food that could be used to feed families, children, and individuals across the country.
Food waste non-profit organizations are working to combat this problem to feed the hungry and preserve our earth's natural resources and environment.
Here are five food waste non-profit organizations that are supporting their local communities by preventing food waste and fighting climate change. See how you can get involved whether in-person or online!
Top Food Waste Non-Profit Organizations Fighting Hunger and Helping the Environment
1. Rethink Food
Rethink Food is a food waste non-profit that delivers 40,000+ nutritious meals to people in need each week. How do they do it? They partner with restaurants, grocers, and local community organizations to collect unused food and turn it into delicious meals for people facing food insecurity.
Rethink Food has had an incredible impact since starting in 2017. They have distributed over 14.8 million meals and saved over 2.1 million pounds of food from landfills.
However, Rethink Food isn't just about big numbers. They take time and effort to ensure their meals align culturally with the communities they serve. For example, their sustainable commissary kitchen creates nutritionally dense, chef-quality meals using culturally celebrated staples from a variety of backgrounds and communities.
Rethink Food offers a variety of ways to get involved in the fight against food waste and food insecurity. From donating your excess food to getting involved in educational programs, and following them on social media - there is a way for everyone to contribute to this amazing cause.
2. Food Recovery Network
The Food Recovery Network is a unique food waste non-profit that channels surplus food from college campuses to those in need.
FRN relies on network of student-led chapters across the United States. Students volunteer by recovering edible food from their campus dining halls and donate it to shelters, food banks, and other mission-driven community organizations. The students also leverage local businesses to collect food.
FRN was started in 2011 by a group of students at the University of Maryland who noticed food going to waste in their cafeteria. They teamed up to start redistributing the food and eventually grew to over 100 chapters across colleges throughout the US. But they haven't stopped there. They are now the largest student-led movement in America dedicated to combatting food waste and have saved over 10 million pounds of food.
Additionally, the FRN is not only preventing food waste but also promoting sustainability and environmental responsibility. By diverting surplus food away from landfills, FRN helps reduce the production of methane, a potent greenhouse gas that results from food decomposition.
Finally, the organization also focuses on the root cause of food insecurity to eradicate it completely. For instance, studies have shown that food insecurity is linked to economic security. FRN has publicly fought for a fair and equitable minimum living wage and spending locally within their communities to strengthen the local GDP and keep dollars in the community where they have the largest impact.
3. Food Rescue US
Food Rescue US is a nonprofit in the US dedicated to combating food waste and alleviating hunger through the use of a mobile app. Founded in 2011, the organization has provided 123 million meals to those in need and avoided 456,000 tons of CO2e.
They connect food donors, such as restaurants, grocery stores, and corporate dining facilities, with dedicated volunteers who use the Food Rescue US app to transport surplus food to local community organizations.
Volunteers, known as "food rescuers," use the app to receive notifications about available surplus food, pick it up, and deliver it to local nonprofit agencies. Food Rescue's unique approach integrates technology to serve millions of people at scale in an easy, cost-effective way.
Why Do Restaurants Throw Away Food?
Food waste occurs in restaurants for a variety of reasons.
For instance, many retailers and customers have high cosmetic standards for their food products. If fruits or vegetables are mishappen then they might throw them away instead of selling them. Although the food is edible, it might not present in the way they want it to.
Additionally, sometimes there are staffing and logistical challenges to donating food which causes restaurants or other retailers to throw away perfectly good food. Others are afraid of being held liable if someone gets sick after consuming food they donated.
In theory, they are protected by the Good Samaritan Act which provides protection to those donating food to people in need. However, some restaurants aren't willing to take the reputational risk and steer clear of donating altogether.
How do Food Waste Non-Profit Organizations Combat Food Waste?
Food waste non-profit organizations come up with ingenious ways to collect excess food from restaurants, residential kitchens, college campuses, stadiums, cafeterias, hotels, and grocery stores.
They use a network of volunteers, apps, and corporate partnerships to ensure that food gets to the people that need it most. Additionally, they also partner with world-class chefs to create incredible meals that people are excited to eat and gain nutritional value from.
How Can I Combat Food Waste?
1. Food Waste Solutions At Home
Grocery stores and restaurants often sell food in large quantities. Sometimes it is difficult to store excess food at home while maintaining its freshness and safety. There are several products that can help reduce food waste in your home.
Eco-Friendly Food Storage Products
Save Money on Climate Pledge Friendly Food Products
Amazon is offering deals and discounts on certified "Climate Pledge Friendly" food products. Take advantage and save today!
2. Food Waste Solutions Online
You can combat food waste online without leaving your home!
Free Meal Prep Tools
Free Rice Online Game
Do you like playing games? The World Food Program has an online game called Free Rice where users answer questions and WFP donates a grain of rice for every correct one. That might not seem like a lot, but a few minutes spent playing the game every week or every day can really add up and make a difference in people's lives.
3. Free Food Waste Solutions That Don't Cost a Dime
Donating to non-profits like the ones listed above can go a long way in the fight against food waste. However, there are more ways to combat food waste without spending a dime.
Engage on Social Media
Get involved in the conversation about food waste on social media. Like posts from food waste non-profits and comment to show your support. These acts increase visibility and awareness for food waste organizations that are committed to fighting hunger and helping the environment.
Donate Leftover Food
If you can't use your leftover food then donate it to a food pantry, a non-profit, or shelter. Popular apps like Olio, Food Rescue US, and Waste No Food make it easy to give leftover food.
Volunteer Your Time
Finally, volunteering your time is one of the best ways to combat food waste. From delivering meals to helping prepare them, there are tons of organizations that are grateful for eager volunteers willing to spend a morning or afternoon contributing to a cause that is bigger than themselves.
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