"Somewhere between 30 to 40 percent of the United States’ food supply is wasted."

Change Your Habits, Change the World—What You Can Do About Food Waste

When we talk about hunger, we have to realize that we’re really talking about much more. For us, feeding hungry kids will always be the first priority, but creating the world we envision—a world where no child goes to bed hungry—is far from a simple task. It requires all of us working together to remove the conditions that give rise to childhood hunger and perpetuate it.

That means changing the culture—changing how we think about food and interact with it.

Food waste is a huge part of the problem. Tragically, even while 1 in 5 American children live in a state of food insecurity1—not knowing where their next meal will come from—somewhere between 30 to 40 percent of the United States’ food supply is wasted.2 Globally, one third of the food produced each year—approximately 1.3 billion tons—gets lost or wasted.3 That’s more than enough food to take care of the 821 million people who suffer from hunger worldwide.4

We can do better, and we must. Efforts are underway both globally and in the U.S. to reduce food waste by 2030, but the work doesn’t stop there.5 We can all do our part to fight food waste in our own lives.

We can all shop smarter. Planning meals and using grocery lists helps reduce the amount of food we might get rid of later. And at home, arranging the fridge efficiently6 makes a huge difference, as does a “first-in, first-out” rotation that keeps older items at the front to make sure they get eaten in time. It’s also important to realize that many expiration dates aren’t about food safety at all but are simply producers’ suggestions for peak quality—the “sniff test” is usually all you need. There are lots of uses for food that’s past its prime, too, whether it’s French toast and grilled cheese sandwiches for bread that’s going stale, using wilted veggies in soups or stews, or blending overripe fruit in smoothies.

Splitting entrées when going out to eat is a good way to short-circuit the “supersize” mentality at many restaurants. And if the portions are still too big, you can reduce food waste by taking home your leftovers (and actually eating them). In general, it’s useful to keep a waste log of the food you throw away—just the act of jotting it down tends to make people more conscious about what they’re doing.

And that’s the point. Whether it’s in big or small ways, becoming more mindful of how we treat our food—food that could change everything for someone who really needs it—is a habit we can cultivate in ourselves and share with others, one that leads to better sustainability in the long-term. That means less waste, less hunger, and a more honest commitment to the kind of world we want to create every day.

  1. www.ers.usda.gov/publications/pub-details/?pubid=84972
  2. www.usda.gov/foodwaste/faqs
  3. www.fao.org/save-food/resources/keyfindings/en/
  4. www.worldhunger.org
  5. www.usda.gov/foodlossandwaste/champions and www.fao.org/faostat/en/
  6. www.insteading.com/blog/minimize-food-waste-by-storing-food-in-your-refrigerator-the-right-way/