Many people have long tried to raise awareness of the huge problem of food waste in the U.S., for both environmental reasons and to feed more of the people who can’t afford to purchase enough of it. Though it’s taken a lot of time, the issue of food waste is finally gaining widespread news coverage and attention.
Restaurants buy too much of it and discard it. Farms plow it under when the market price drops too low. And grocery stores don’t even put produce on the shelves if it’s the “wrong” size or shape.
But Second Harvest has been at the forefront of efforts to end food waste for years. Second Harvest CEO Willy Elliott-McCrea helped start Ag Against Hunger back in 1991, which diverts surplus produce from area farms to local food banks. Today they distribute over 12 million pounds of food each year to food banks like Second Harvest, which then distribute them to the community through pantries, soup kitchens, and the like.
Today, dozens of farms, growers, grocery stores, food distributors, and more throughout Santa Cruz County are hard at work preventing food waste and donating edible food so that food banks can get it into the hands of people who don’t have enough to eat.
The network of food banks to which Second Harvest belongs, Feeding America, is now working on ever more innovative ways to rescue more food from landfills and feed more people in need. MealConnect matches food businesses directly with nearby food banks when food is ready for pickup. Food bankers from across the state are supporting legislation to further encourage gleaners and others (AB 1577) to donate food. And more people from across the spectrum—producers, restaurants, retailers, and consumers—are making greater efforts against food waste.
In this area, the future is getting brighter for both people and the planet.
Check out Feeding America’s page on fighting food waste, read what you can do to reduce food waste at home, and let your California assemblymember know you support AB 1577! (You can look yours up here.)