By Rob Greenfield
Let me throw some statistics at you.
- We throw away 165 billion dollars worth of food every year in America.
- 40% of all food in America is tossed out.
- 1 in 5 children goes without a meal on a fairly common basis.
- 50 million Americans lack food on their plate.
These statistics are mind blowing but if you’re like me it’s probably hard to wrap your head around a bunch of numbers. I need to see it to understand it so I went out and I saw it. Now I’m here to show you.
I’m cycling across America right now and will be arriving in NYC on September 26th. I started dumpster diving in Wisconsin to raise awareness about food waste and was so blown away by the amount of perfectly good food that I found that I vowed to only eat food I rescued from dumpsters until I reached the Big Apple. In fact I’m chowing down on whole wheat bread and fruit from a New Jersey dumpster as I write this story. Over the last few months I’ve spent most of my free time either in dumpsters or talking about being in the dumpsters. Yet, I’m still blown away almost daily by how much food I find tossed out.
To prove my point even further and show the grand scale of our food waste problem I’ve been hosting Food Waste Fiascos in major cities along the way. And this is what I’ve found.
The Philadelphia score was four hours of work with one car – Lancaster four hours with two cars – Cleveland seven hours with one truck – Detroit four hours with an SUV. It was frighteningly easy to pull these fiascos together last minute.
I’ve learned that I can roll up in nearly any city across America and collect enough food to feed 100’s of people in a matter of one night. My experience shows me that grocery store dumpsters are being filled with perfectly good food every day in nearly every city across America, all while children are too hungry to concentrate in school. I’m not going to stand for that and I know you won’t either.
I’m holding my final fiasco of the tour in Union Square on September 30th at 5:00. Seeing photos is one thing but seeing it in person has been life changing for some and mind blowing for most. Join the event on facebook and invite your friends in the New York area.
Our message is that grocery stores should stop dumping their excess food and start donating it. Through all of my hands on experience and research I have found that it is a win-win situation for grocery stores to donate their excess food to non-profits. By donating they are protected from lawsuits by the Good Samaritan Food Act, they get tax write offs, they spend less on dumpster fees, and most importantly they are doing what is right for their community! The most common excuse for not donating is that they fear liability but according to a University of Arkansas study not a single lawsuit has ever been made against a grocery store that has donated food to a food rescue program.
Thousands of food rescue programs are already feeding people across America and thousands of stores are already donating to these non-profits and food banks. However it is a very small fraction of what could be done. We need more stores donating more often and that’s where you come in. Simply take to social media and tell your grocery store to #DonateNotDump or talk to the manager of your local grocery store in person. It’s up to us to hold them accountable to treat the environment and our hungry Americans with the respect they deserve.
I believe that we are at a tipping point for ending food waste and with citizen action we can solve this. My campaign has been receiving positive national media attention and so have many others that I have seen. The excitement inside me tells me that we will drastically reduce food waste before I am an old man. It starts with you. It starts with me. It starts with all of us.