What is food rescue?
Food rescue involves taking excess food that is not sellable but is still usable and distributing it to those who need it. The food, which would otherwise be discarded, is not spoiled, rotten or out of code. The food may not look perfect but is still nutritious and delicious.
What are the benefits of food rescue? Isn’t it just easier to compost leftover food?
In addition to keeping food out of landfills — thereby mitigating the negative environmental effects of food waste has on our environment — food rescue addresses systemic problems like food insecurity and lack of access to healthy food. In Boston, one in five people is food insecure, meaning they do not always know where their next meal will come from. Perishable products such as fresh fruits and vegetables are among the most wasted food products there are. By making use of this food, food rescue can help food insecure individuals gain access to the types of foods they might not ordinarily be able to afford. While composting is valuable, we believe fresh, healthy food has a higher value than composting, especially when the need is so great.
Where does Lovin’ Spoonfuls rescue food from? Where does the food go after it has been “rescued”?
Lovin’ Spoonfuls works with over 70 vendor partners, including local grocery stores like Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s and Roche Bros., as well produce wholesalers, farmers markets, and local farms. Lovin’ Spoonfuls focuses on fresh produce, whole grains, dairy, and lean protein, or the healthy foods that food insecure families need most.
Every weekday, Lovin’ Spoonfuls’ Food Rescue Coordinators set out in our fleet of refrigerated trucks to pick-up excess food from our vendors, and deliver it to local nonprofit partners across Eastern Massachusetts. Our beneficiary partners including homeless shelters, soup kitchens, after-school programs, veterans services and elder services.
How big a problem is food waste?
Food is wasted in enormous proportions, not only in Boston but also all over the world. Here are some facts about food waste:
The amount of food Americans waste every day (40 % of the food produced1) is enough to fill the Rose Bowl stadium in California.
Decomposing food in landfills emits methane, a gas twenty-five times more potent effect on global climate change than carbon dioxide.
- 300 million barrels of oil and one quarter of total freshwater consumption are used each year to produce food that is ultimately wasted.2
- On a per capita basis, food waste represents 1,400 calories of food per person per day or 150 trillion calories per year.3
Why do businesses have such huge amounts of food waste?
There are numerous reasons why businesses waste so much food. Consumer preferences and company standards for perfect-looking produce cause supermarkets to reject or discard produce with minor, superficial imperfections. Supermarkets must cater to customers’ needs, which means they remain fully stocked at all times, even if that results in wasted food. In most cases, it is easier for supermarkets to throw food out at the end of the day than to find another home for it. That’s where Lovin’ Spoonfuls comes in — we offer a simple, streamlined service for food vendors that provides them a tax break, reduced trash collection costs, and allows them to help feed people in their own communities.
How is Lovin’ Spoonfuls different from a food bank?
Food banks rely on warehouses and other overnight storage facilities to maintain their inventory of non-perishable goods. Lovin’ Spoonfuls utilizes a direct distribution system – we pick up food and deliver it to our beneficiaries that same day. We do not store or ‘bank’ food because we work with primarily perishable products: direct-distribution ensures direct access.
How can I contribute? Can I pick up leftover food/volunteer? Will Lovin’ Spoonfuls pick up leftover food from my house?
Unfortunately, Lovin’ Spoonfuls is unable to accept food donations from individuals. While we have limited need for volunteers, you can check our Volunteer section for more information on volunteering and supporting Lovin’ Spoonfuls’ work. You can also contribute by wasting less food in your own home. According to NPR, “If household food waste could be cut in half, a family of four could save $600 a year.”
Here are some tips to reduce personal food waste from food waste expert Jonathan Bloom:
1. Plan your meals before you grocery shop.
2. Make a detailed shopping list and stick to it!
3. Serve reasonable sized portions.
4. Save your leftovers.
5. Eat those leftovers!
Additionally, you can reduce your food waste by storing food properly in your refrigerator and freezer, making greater use of your freezer for items you won’t eat up quickly such as bread, putting older food items in the front of the refrigerator, using clear containers for foods, keeping all food items in sight in the refrigerator, and making an additional trip to the grocery store mid-week to stock up on perishable items, instead of shopping for perishables once a week and wasting some of those items.
What is the Massachusetts Commercial Organics Waste Ban and how does it affect your work?
The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) established an organics waste disposal ban that would apply to businesses and institutions disposing of one ton or more of food waste per week which went into effect on October 1, 2014. If a business disposes of one ton or more of food waste per week, they are affected by this new measure and could face penalties if not compliant.
We are encouraged by the regulations put forth by the Massachusetts DEP to reduce food waste in landfills. We are working with the DEP and the Massachusetts Food Association to educate businesses on their options for diverting food waste from the waste stream. We hope to form new partnerships with food businesses looking to donate excess food in compliance with the regulations, which go into effect October 1, 2014. More information is available here.
Where can I learn more about food waste in America?
One of the best places to learn more about food waste is through Jonathan Bloom’s blog, Wasted Food as well as his excellent book, American Wasteland: How America Throws Away Nearly Half of Its Food (and What We Can Do About It).