The thing about food that we discard is that we don’t really think about it. When a commodity is in surplus, it’s natural to not pay attention to what happens to whatever is leftover after we’re done with it. My family has a couple of items that we buy once a month from a warehouse-style retailer and I realized recently that early in the month I don’t really notice how many bottles of sparkling water are left (just to name one item) when I grab one off the shelf. When it gets toward the end of the month however I find myself counting the bottles and rationing myself until we make our big once-a-month trip. I just don’t think about it when I’ve got plenty.
This same thing seems true when talking to managers in the food-service industry about our desire to partner toward the cause of ending American food-insecurity through food-rescue. Initially, most of them will say “we really don’t throw that much food away but I’m happy to let Community Plates rescue the little bit that we do” but usually after a little more conversation they’ll end up saying things like “actually we do throw this item away fairly often” and “now that I think about it, twice a month we have this or that event that usually results in a fair amount of surplus.”
So that’s what we’re focused on right now; just to get us thinking about this fast-growing problem of food-insecurity in the US and more hopefully our ability to bring it to an end. If we could all just spend a little bit of time thinking about the food-resources we have access to and what happens to that food when we’re done with it, I believe we will discover enough food to make a real difference for hungry Americans.