U.S. House Committee on Agriculture begins review on food waste issues

Delegates from across America (including award-winning chefs) recently took part in a food waste review conducted by the House Agricultural Committee, an organization that oversees agricultural policy in the United States. The hearing was centered on current issues relating to food waste and initiated an imperative discussion on future policies and solutions. Participants heard from a variety of actors and industry leaders, who spoke about the need to reduce food waste along the commodity chain.

The review has spanned two days so far and has been spearheaded by many prominent industry actors such as Diana Aviv, CEO of Feeding America, who aims to raise consciousness of the paradox of excess food waste existing alongside poverty and hunger in the U.S. In her statement at the hearing, Aviv emphasized the importance of food rescue and food waste redirection to charity organizations that serve those in need. According to Aviv, Feeding America and its charity networks provided 3.7 billion meals in 2015 with food that would have otherwise been destined for the trash.

This is a very positive step forward for food waste reduction in America and I hope to see a similar event in Canada in the near future, possibly with participation from organizations such as Second Harvest.

You can read further on the food waste review and its progress here.

(Participants in the May 25th Food Waste Review. Image from http://agriculture.house.gov)

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Starbucks Pledges to Donate 100% of Surplus Food

Starbucks, the largest coffee company in the United States, has recently pledged to donate 100% of their unused food to shelters, food banks, and charities over the next five years.

Although the company has donated food in the past, this initiative is a commitment to going beyond shelf-stable food and pastries to include perishable, “ready-to-eat” products that will be donated with the help of refrigerated trucks, with the hope that the food will be delivered to those in need within 24 hours of donating.

Previous concerns were about the viability of donating these perishable foods, especially in areas with warmer climates. Logistics for this scale of food donation can be daunting without the right equipment and rigorous commitment to quality along all levels of the supply chain.

Starbucks is partnering with Feeding America and Food Share for this initiative. More information can be found here: http://mashable.com/2016/03/22/starbucks-food-donations-foodshare/

The Real Junk Food Project, UK

There are cafés popping up in the UK and all over the world serving accessible, healthy meals made entirely from diverted food waste! These cafés, run by the incredible Real Junk Food Project in the UK, are run on a Pay As You Feel basis and provide an important source of healthy food for low income residents in the area.

Check out their website:
http://therealjunkfoodproject.org/

And their Facebook site:

The Real Junk Food Project

 

 

UK Fuel for School Breakfast Program

A creative UK organization (The Real Junk Food Project) is piloting a school breakfast program run entirely off of diverted food waste!

“Through our work with Richmond Hill Primary School we have seen how important an initiative like Fuel for School is, not just to stop hunger and kickstart learning, but also as an amazingly powerful tool to educate the next generation about food waste and the environment, in the hope that they can help stop such criminal amounts of waste and hunger in the future.
-Kerry Murphy, The Real Junk Food Project’s Education Co-ordinator

Video:

Read more:
http://www.yorkshireeveningpost.co.uk/news/latest-news/top-stories/thousands-of-leeds-pupils-to-eat-food-saved-from-city-landfills-1-7607686#ixzz3zn3WbCZl

Update: France Bans Supermarket Waste

In July, we wrote about French Councillor Arash Derambarsh’s efforts to lead the way in food waste reduction for the EU. Last week his efforts paid off, at least for the country of France. French grocery stores that are 400 square meters or larger are now required by law to donate all of their excess food to either food banks or charities, or run the risk of being considerably fined. Furthermore, supermarkets are now banned from tampering with food they put in bins: previously either bleached, locked up, or otherwise rendered inedible. Finally, the law has relaxed restrictions on donations that can come directly from factories, eliminating much of the red tape in the process.

Councillor Derambarsh hopes French President Hollande is willing to take the rest of the EU to task on the issue of food waste, using France as an example.

You can read more about this story here: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/feb/04/french-law-forbids-food-waste-by-supermarkets

The solidarity fridge

Issam Massaoudi, an unemployed Moroccan immigrant, checks out what's inside the Solidarity Fridge. Massaoudi says money is tight for him, and it's "amazing" to be able to help himself to healthy food from Galdakao's communal refrigerator.

The small city of Galdakao (just outside of Bilbao, Spain) has come up with a creative solution for tackling food waste, using a communal fridge where anyone can leave or take food. The goal is not to provide charity, although providing food to the food insecure is one benefit. The primary goal is to deal with excess food. Now restaurants and citizens can leave extra food in the fridge, following some basic rules in order to maintain food safety, and anyone at all is welcome to take food from the fridge. The fridge sits on the pavement with a small fence around it to ensure it’s not mistaken for a rejected appliance.Volunteers are in place to remove any food that sits in the fridge too long, though so far nothing has had to be tossed because the food has such high turnover. It took some time to get the project up and running – especially getting city approval and a public space to use – but it seems to be proving a success, despite some initial hesitancy in the community. Already, two to three hundred kilos of food have been saved from being trash. The project was inspired by a similar initiative in Berlin and now there’s already talk of a second fridge in Galdakao and a similar project in the city of Murcia. Now I just wish there was one in Guelph…

Get the full story here:

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jun/25/solidarity-fridge-spanish-town-cut-food-waste-galdakao

The Robin Hood Army

Photograph: Robin Hood Army

Food waste is a world-wide phenomenon, and so is food rescue. In India and Pakistan, a group called the Robin Hood Army, inspired by Refood International, has taken up the task of redistributing excess food from restaurants and catering.  Started just last year, the organization already has a volunteer base of over 500 people in 13 cities (mainly recruited through social media). Right now the organization is reaching around 5,000 people.  While food rescue isn’t the first option in the waste hierarchy, it is still one way of filling in the gaps in the food system. These individuals are taking action to combat waste and hunger in their own cities.

Read more on the the Robin Hood Army:

http://www.theguardian.com/global-development-professionals-network/2015/jun/02/the-robin-hood-army-fighting-food-waste-in-india-and-pakistan