Ask an Environmentalist: How can you prevent food waste? This app donates it to people in need

Food waste is a year-round problem. Indiana falls in the typical range for the amount of U.S. food that is wasted at around 40 percent.

At the same time, there are also about 1 million people in the Hoosier state who are considered food insecure—or at risk of not having enough food at any given time.

That means good food is going into landfills instead of being used by people who need it, and besides being a crying shame, is also a major contributor to the release of the greenhouse gas methane in our environment.

So as many of us prepare to gather around a meal with friends and family this holiday season, how can we reduce food waste and help those who are less fortunate at the same time?

Thankfully, there are two useful tools that can help us no matter what our holiday plans entail.

If you’re cooking a meal at home, the Guestimator tool from Save the Food is a great way to plan meals and prepare the appropriate amount of food for your guests. It even takes into account how many leftovers you want and gives you ideas on what to do with them. It also offers tips on how to display food enticingly, serve it safely, and store it properly.

If you’re not into cooking, your holiday gatherings might be catered or held at restaurants where there are even more opportunities to help reduce overproduction. Check out the app called Food Rescue US. It has been successfully saving meals from the landfill in other parts of the country since 2011, and it just launched in our area (score!). 

This app allows food service businesses to log on and list any extra food they have. Then it matches them to a volunteer food runner and a hunger relief agency, so food doesn’t go to waste. Instead, it gets into the hands and mouths of those who need it.

Now, the success of Food Rescue US relies on three participants: the food donor, the food runner, and the food recipient. 

If you are in the Fort Wayne area food service industry, register on the app, and list your extra food. As a customer at local restaurants or a guest at a catered event, ask the manager if they would consider using the app, too. The more people who know about Food Rescue US, the more food we can save.

Then if you have a car and a few extra minutes this holiday season, register, and check the schedule for a delivery you can make while you are out and about town. It’s a great way to spread good cheer.

While you’re at it, let your favorite charity know about this chance to get delicious food, too.

This is a good time of year to start thinking about ways to be kind to the Earth and our fellow man. Let’s start some new habits that can help us live more sustainably and responsibly throughout the year!

Read more articles by Jodi Leamon.

Jodi Leamon is a Fort Wayne native with degrees in Environmental Studies from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington and Biology from the University of Illinois Chicago. Send her your questions at Jodi.leamon@co.allen.in.us.
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