Last month, as we celebrated Earth Day we at MCHPP also reflected on how our work can contribute to a more sustainable world. The US food system produces enough to feed everyone in the country over 4,000 calories per day, and yet more than 35 million people experience food insecurity each year. Why does this contradiction exist?
One of the biggest reasons is that 30-40% of food in the US, about 63 million tons, currently goes to waste- that’s a lot of food! And it’s not just the food itself – the resources and energy that went into growing and transporting it are also wasted.
Here’s the good news – MCHPP and many other organizations are working every day to make sure that good food goes to people, not landfills. Not only does this help reduce hunger in our communities, it also reduces the amount of greenhouse gases released into the air as food decomposes. Last year, MCHPP rescued 1,401,000 pounds of food bound for landfills!
How can we reduce food waste?
Create Less Waste
The action that would have the largest impact would be to create less waste in the first place. Starting at home by trying to use all of the food that you buy is a great first step. The EPA has some helpful suggestions for how to waste less food, like planning meals, learning how to store perishables for the longest shelf life, and freezing what you can’t use before it goes bad. Even if these actions seem small, any reduction in waste makes a difference.
This is where MCHPP comes in! We work with retailers, farms, gleaners, and individuals to gather good food that would otherwise be thrown away. We sort and then distribute this food to people in our area who need it at no cost to them.
Feed Animals and Compost the Rest
Some of the food that we rescue doesn’t meet our high standards for distributing to people. We have two options for helping this food avoid a landfill. The first is feeding animals – we donate much of this food to pig farmers (think fruits with bruised skin or crunchy bread).The second is composting- between our soup kitchen and food bank, MCHPP composts about 40 pounds of food daily.
Reducing food waste is a journey made up of many small steps that gets us closer to a more sustainable world where both our people and our environment are healthy and happy. We hope you join us!
PS- While we’re talking about sustainability, we wanted to give a shoutout to our solar panels! If you’ve been to our building, you’ve probably seen them – if not, take a look at the left side of our roof the next time you come by. They were installed in 2016 and produce about 85,000 kWh annually, which is enough energy to power eight homes for a year.