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How Preventing Food Waste Can Help with Food Security

January 23, 2013  • Dan Glickman

Food wasteAccording to a report published by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, 50 percent of all global food production is thrown out. That is nearly two billion tons of food wasted each year. The report cites a variety of contributing issues from poor infrastructure and storage capabilities, overly strict sell-by dates, consumer demand for cosmetically appealing food and even buy-one-get-one free offers.

Two billion tons of food is enough to make a huge impact on food poverty and hunger worldwide. Thinking about the United States, where one in seven citizens is on food stamps and many more partially reliant on food banks (which regularly complain of shortages), even a fraction of that wasted food making its way to the dinner table would change the lives of millions of Americans.

We can become more efficient with our use of food here in the United States. The Federal Good Samaritan Act immunizes people from liability in most instances when they donate surplus food. This is particularly useful for restaurants, caterers, hotels, farms, and super markets. Political leaders should continue to encourage and facilitate the donation of food to institutions capable of getting it to folks who need it the most.

Looking forward, the world is about to undergo a massive population explosion. Much of the arable land worldwide is already being used to produce food, so feeding billions more people poses unique challenges. Improving transportation infrastructure and food storage worldwide will go a long way towards ensuring a secure supply of food for the future.