Why is Food Waste Important to Reduce?

Taz Keefe

Food waste at school.

Every day during lunch, students constantly waste perfectly good food when there could be people at our school who may be starving or need more food to fuel and nourish their bodies. According to the Department of Public Instruction School Report Card for 2021, 40.5% of students are economically disadvantaged.  If this is happening in our school, how much food is going to waste in America? 

Food waste negatively affects not just people who suffer from hunger, but severely impacts the environment we live in. Greenhouse gas emissions are generated at every stage of the product life cycle and are responsible for a variety of problems including global warming, climate change, and destruction of the ozone layer.

Food waste at school

According to Assistant Food Service Supervisor Katelyn Herman, food waste is a problem because… A lot of that is due to COVID regulations and guidelines from the CDC. Our school is a lot more limited in how we can reuse food; we used to have a food cart where people could put back their fruit that they didn’t eat or want and then it would get re-washed and then repurposed. While it makes sense that during COVID we aren’t allowed to rewash any fruit to be reused, will we ever be able to reuse food like fruits in the future or will we have to continue to waste food. 

“Breaks my heart, knowing people that don’t have enough food could eat it who need it.,” says Assistant Food Service Supervisor Ms. Herman. This breaks many of our hearts because some people just don’t understand how fortunate they are to have the access we have to food, while others in our school and in our country may face hunger. 

How is America being impacted by Food Waste?

“America has more than enough food to feed everyone. But each year, billions of pounds of perfectly good food go to waste. Meanwhile, 38 million people face hunger in the United States” says FeedingAmerica.org.  It’s sad to think that this world has so many food companies and manufacturers and yet we still have a major hunger problem in our world.  

How can we help? What is being done right now?  

FeedingAmerica.org says, “We work with manufacturers, retailers, and farmers to reduce food waste and get rescued food to people in need.” It’s nice to know that organizations like Feeding America help try to reduce food waste, but is this doing enough? What more can we do to help reduce food waste even more? In fact, “Last year, the Feeding America network and our partners rescued 4.7 billion pounds of groceries. That food went directly to feed people facing hunger. This makes Feeding America the largest food rescue organization in the country.” 

This is how other organizations have helped try to reduce food waste in our world. But how can our school and each of us help reduce food waste?  Assistant Food Service Supervisor Ms. Herman  mentions a good way students could help try to reduce food waste is to practice “portion control.” Make your food decisions knowing what you want to eat before you get in line so the lines can move along smoothly and due to covid, they can’t reuse food that you touched.” This is so important because when a student picks up food and then changes their mind,  that food has to be thrown away due to COVID regulations. Therefore, to help reduce food waste, know what you want and try not to touch food you are not going to eat. 

With this being said, next time you decide to throw food away, think about all of the hungry people who desperately wanted to eat your food. Also, think about the billions of pounds of food that is wasted every year in America. It is important to understand the value food has when you have access to it. Food prices have gone up a lot  this year and there’s so many ways you can help reduce food waste.