A Roadmap We Can All Follow

Chart from ReFed.com

From ReFED.com

By Jean Blish Siers *

If you want to get really nerdy about food waste (and I love being nerdy about food waste!) here’s a delightfully interactive web site where you can lose yourself for hours: [Note: This link has been removed from their website.] Its creator is the collaborative effort of more than 30 nonprofit, business, foundation, and government leaders, and they have created “Roadmap to Reduce U.S. Food Waste.” This fascinating study comes at food waste from several angles, addressing its environmental as well as economic costs.

The report begins: “The country spends $218 billion a year, or 1.3% of GDP, growing, processing, and transporting food that is never eaten. That adds up to 52.4 million tons of food sent to landfills annually. Add to that another 10.1 million tons estimated to be discarded or left unharvested on farms and in packinghouses, and you have a 63-million-ton mountain of wasted calories, resources, and energy. This mountain of waste grows up to two times if you add in other food for people that ends up being composted, converted into animal feed, or discarded in other ways, leading to up to 40% of all food grown being wasted.”

The Obama administration has set a goal to reduce food waste by 50% by 2030 and ReFed tackles the issue with a three-prong approach. The first, prevention, involves keeping food from going to waste. Approaches include consumer education (saving more than 584,000 tons of food and 281 billion gallons of water,) more consistent package labeling and dating (diverting 398,000 tons of food from landfills,) and improved packaging to prevent spoilage and transit damage.

The second level, recovery, is where groups such as Society of St. Andrew come in. The group found, for instance, that with expanded donation tax incentives (North Carolina removed all gleaning tax credits from the tax code in 2014), more than 638 million meals could be recovered each year. And the happy byproduct of saving that food is the reduction of 874,000 tons of greenhouse gases annually!

Donation matching software, including technology platforms to connect food donors to recipients easily and efficiently, could save up to 250 million meals per year, and reduce greenhouse gases by 555,000 tons. And something as basic as donation liability education (basically letting grocers and producers know that they can donate food without fear of law suits) could save an additional 95 million meals a year.

The final piece in the food waste puzzle involves keeping food out of landfills through recycling efforts including various levels of composting and as well as producing animal feed. These are the foods that remain once the first two approaches are implemented. The hope is that the amount that needs to be composted and recycled would become smaller each year.

The emphasis of the report is that all stakeholders have to work together. With increased government incentives, producers at all levels will be more inclined to work with groups such as SoSA. With better education, less food will be considered “bad” or inedible.

It’s encouraging that so many stakeholders from such a diverse group of interests are on board, seeing what we have seen for so long: In a world with hungry people and limited resources, no food should go to waste!

*Jean Blish Siers is SoSA’s Charlotte Area Gleaning Coordinator.



In the event I, or a registered family member, suffers any illness or accident requiring emergency hospitalization, medication, or other medical assistance while participating in a gleaning event, permission is given for any medical treatment which is deemed necessary and reasonable under the circumstances. I fully understand and comprehend that reasonable care will be exercised by the adult staff for this gleaning event to protect the safety of those involved. I understand that the field supervisor’s instructions must be followed at all times, and that I am responsible for any damages caused to fields, farms, or equipment by me/my family members not following these instructions.

Photos, videos, and other images in which I, or a registered family member, appear that are taken during gleanings may be used by the Society of St. Andrew for news coverage, newsletters, reports, displays, and for other print, broadcast, web, or electronic news or promotional purposes.

I do not hold the board, members, or employees of the Society of St. Andrew (SoSA,) or any volunteers liable for injury, bodily harm, accidents, or death of myself/my child during events sponsored by the Society of St. Andrew. Neither will I hold the person(s) who owns and/or operates the property from which we glean, salvage, or to which we deliver food, liable for accidents, injury, or death during the gleanings or other SoSA events.

For a PDF print version of this waiver, click here.

How the Story of the 12 Baskets is Connected to SoSA’s Name

Matthew 14:16-21

But Jesus said to them, “They do not need to go away; you give them something to eat!” They said to Him, “We have here only five loaves and two fish.” And He said, “Bring them here to Me.” Ordering the people to sit down on the grass, He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up toward heaven, He blessed the food, and breaking the loaves He gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds, and they all ate and were satisfied. They picked up what was left over of the broken pieces, twelve full baskets. There were about five thousand men who ate, besides women and children.

2 Kings 4:42-44

[…]the man of God […] said, “Give them to the people that they may eat.” His attendant said, “What, will I set this before a hundred men?” But he said, “Give them to the people that they may eat, for thus says the Lord, ‘They shall eat and have some left over.’” So he set it before them, and they ate and had some left over, according to the word of the Lord.