Thursday, November 3, 2011
The USDA’s Economic Research Service at one time estimated that 27 percent of the food produced in the United States never even makes it to our dinner tables, but instead is thrown away as waste. This is a powerful statistic and one that begs the question, “Are we doing enough to rescue usable food before it hits a landfill?”
Food banks throughout the U.S. are forward-thinkers. When this information was published, many food banks started to develop fresh and perishable food rescue programs. These programs had a simple goal: to send refrigerated trucks, with certified ServSafe® drivers, to retail grocery stores, hospitals, schools, restaurants and caterers to rescue usable, perishable food for immediate distribution to programs feeding people in need.
Where does this food come from? The hospital that prepares more meals than beds were filled on a certain day, the school going on break that has extra milk, the grocery stores that have a surplus of meat, dairy, deli or produce — this usable food is now rescued to feed Minnesota’s hungriest citizens.
Hunger-Free Minnesota has set a goal to increase emergency food assistance by 50 million meals per year for adults, families and seniors in need. Here in Duluth, we’re taking a logical approach to this goal and the solution of hunger by rescuing perishable food available locally. Second Harvest Northern Lakes Food Bank operates a six-day-per-week Food Rescue Program, which rescues over 827,000 pounds of usable food annually or enough food for 662,000 meals (one meal = 1.2 pounds of food). And we’re not alone. Our five other Feeding America food banks in Minnesota are rescuing similar foods, operating similar programs and providing hundreds of thousands of meals to those in need.