News / USA

Millions Hungry as US Dumps 40% of its Food

40 Percent of Food Produced in America Wastedi
|| 0:00:00
X
November 21, 2012
Most Americans preparing for their big Thanksgiving meals would be shocked to learn that roughly 40 percent of the food produced in the country every year winds up in the trash. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble takes a closer look at food waste in America and how one group is working to reclaim that discarded food for those without enough to eat.
TEXT SIZE - +
Rosanne Skirble
Even though one in six Americans is chronically hungry, almost half of all food produced in the United States ends up in the trash.

That's about $165 billion worth of food discarded every year at home, in restaurants and on farms, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.   
 
Reclaiming food and lives

The DC Central Kitchen, a Washington-area nonprofit, uses some of that surplus food, which would otherwise go to waste,  to feed people in need.  

“We bring it back to the kitchen," says Mike Curtin, CEO of DC Central Kitchen. "And using that food, volunteer labor, and our staff prepare 5,000 meals a day.” 
Production cook Gregory Jones uses a paddle to stir up turkey casserole at the DC Central Kitchen. (VOA/R. Skirble)Production cook Gregory Jones uses a paddle to stir up turkey casserole at the DC Central Kitchen. (VOA/R. Skirble)
x
Production cook Gregory Jones uses a paddle to stir up turkey casserole at the DC Central Kitchen. (VOA/R. Skirble)
Production cook Gregory Jones uses a paddle to stir up turkey casserole at the DC Central Kitchen. (VOA/R. Skirble)

On this day, production cook Gregory Jones directs a line of volunteers to strip freshly cooked turkeys to the bone.  

“Break it down. No skin, guys, just meat,” he commands as he upends turkey pieces and a box of salt into a huge pot which already has hefty amounts of pasta and peas and beans.  

He uses a paddle the size of an oar to stir the turkey casserole he is cooking.  

A former drug addict, Jones says this job saved his life. He got training in DC Kitchen’s Culinary Arts program and has stayed clean ever since.  

“The wonderful thing about this is that I’m able to give back what the good Lord allowed me to have,” he says.

Curtin says Jones’ story is central to the premise under which the kitchen operates: that waste is wrong.  

Millions Go Hungry as US Dumps 40% of its Food
Americans Waste Foodi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X

“That waste can be food [or] it can be productive minds," he says. "It can be kitchens that aren’t being used effectively or efficiently.”

Staggering waste

The waste is staggering.  A recent report by the Natural Resources Defense Council finds that 40 percent of food is routinely thrown away by consumers at home, discarded or unserved at restaurants or left unharvested on farms.

Yet, points out NRDC project scientist and study author Dana Gunders, one in six Americans is chronically short of food or the funds to buy it.  

Most Americans, she adds, are not aware of the problem.

“It’s really shocking to think that we are wasting so much food when we could be feeding our own population," Gunders says.  "We estimate that if we were to reduce food waste by 15 percent, that would be equivalent to the amount of food needed to feed 25 million Americans, those who are going hungry.”
Carl and Carol Brady donate two tons of squash from their farm in Mitchellville, MD. (VOA/R. Skirble)Carl and Carol Brady donate two tons of squash from their farm in Mitchellville, MD. (VOA/R. Skirble)
x
Carl and Carol Brady donate two tons of squash from their farm in Mitchellville, MD. (VOA/R. Skirble)
Carl and Carol Brady donate two tons of squash from their farm in Mitchellville, MD. (VOA/R. Skirble)

For more than 20 years, D.C. Central Kitchen has worked to end that food waste, and feed the hungry.  

Its drivers make daily pickups of donated surplus from grocery stores, food wholesalers, restaurants and farms.  

A truck regularly pulls into Carl and Carol Brady’s farm in Mitchellville, Maryland, to collect two tons of previously unharvested squash.

Carl says it costs him more to give it away, but, he hates the waste.  

“For a little more effort, I can do some good by gathering it up," he says. "I need to get it off the fields. It needs to go somewhere useful.”

Today’s excess, tomorrow's meals

That excess becomes tomorrow’s meals when it is delivered at no cost to city homeless shelters, charity feeding centers known as soup kitchens and after-school programs, like the Benning Courts Learning Center.

Denise Lacey runs the center in a low-income neighborhood of Washington. On a recent day, she dished out generous portions of hot turkey, pasta and tomato sauce to eager kids who, she says, often don't know where their next meal is coming from.
Each night, chilcren at Benning Courts Learning Center in Washington, DC, receive a hot supper prepared by DC Central Kitchen. (VOA/R. Skirble)Each night, chilcren at Benning Courts Learning Center in Washington, DC, receive a hot supper prepared by DC Central Kitchen. (VOA/R. Skirble)
x
Each night, chilcren at Benning Courts Learning Center in Washington, DC, receive a hot supper prepared by DC Central Kitchen. (VOA/R. Skirble)
Each night, chilcren at Benning Courts Learning Center in Washington, DC, receive a hot supper prepared by DC Central Kitchen. (VOA/R. Skirble)

“I opted for the supper because a lot of kids in this area may not get supper when they get home,” Lacey says.

Back at D.C. Central Kitchen, CEO Mike Curtin sums up the workday.

He says that by reclaiming food, the kitchen is also reclaiming lives, not only for the people they serve but also for his staff, some of whom were themselves once down on their luck.

“We want people to understand how wrong it is for people to be hungry, how absolutely wrong it is,” he says, “but also that by using food, we can get to these issues that create hunger and we can reduce those and we can have success as a community and become a better place.”

Production cook Gregory Jones echoes those thoughts. With laughter in his voice he says, “I’m doing something I always wanted to do.”

You May Like

Wikipedia Proves Useful for Tracking Flu

Technique gave better results than Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Google’s Flu Trends More

Turkish Law Gives Spy Agency Controversial Powers

Parliament approves legislation to bolster powers of intelligence service, which government claims is necessary to modernize and deal with new threats Turkey faces More

Video Face of American Farmer Changing

Average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Face of American Farmer is Changingi
X
Mike Osborne
April 18, 2014
The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid