Representative from Lovin’ Spoonfuls talks about impacts of food waste

March 29, 2019

While 42 million Americans suffer from hunger, 40 percent of food goes to waste, according to Deborah Hicks, a food rescue coordinator who spoke in Olin-Sang on Tuesday. Food waste is the largest source of solid waste, said Hicks, and even 30 percent less food waste could feed 50 million people.

“We live in a society in which it is so easy to throw things out,” said Hicks. “It’s a huge privilege to even be able to do that.”

Hicks said that the impact of food waste happens at various levels. The 25 percent of fresh water use goes toward creating that food that is eventually wasted and 300 barrels of oil used to produce and transport food each year is also wasted, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The 16 percent of methane emitted to the atmosphere is a product of organic waste discardment, according to Hicks.

Massachusetts implemented the Commercial Food Waste Disposal Ban in 2014 for groups that dispose of one ton or more organic waste per week, according to the Massachusetts Food System Collaborative, but Hicks says that food waste is not regulated enough.

“It’s unique to Massachusetts so you might not have even heard of [the law],” said Hicks. “It’s kind of just a slap on the wrist because they’re lacking the resources, but it’s the first step.”

Hicks works for Lovin’ Spoonfuls Food Rescue, a non-profit organization that is “dedicated to facilitating the rescue and distribution of healthy, fresh food that would otherwise be discarded,” according to its website. Hicks said that the organization has saved and redistributed over 12 million pounds of food. The organization is powered by hired staff that drives to commercial food distributors and collects unwanted, perishable foods for redistribution to various shelters and other charitable organizations.

Hicks said that while food redistribution is important, the ultimate goal is to have more sustainable food production. Reduction at the source is important to prevent food waste and unnecessary resource use, according to Hicks. Food production cannot be limited, however, until consumers begin to buy less.

Hicks gave multiple solutions for those who want to limit their food waste. Her suggestions included planning out meals ahead of time and only buying necessary ingredients, buying individual fruits and vegetables, keeping friends informed about food waste and if appropriate, asking friends for their leftover food when they don’t want it.

Through Plenty, a culinary education program run through Lovin’ Spoonfuls, anyone can access food education, tools and guides to learn about how to sustainably feed themselves and their families, according to their website. To learn about how to prevent waste and live more sustainably, Hicks said that you can visit Plenty at lovinspoonfulsinc.org.

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