The American food waste problem is a major ecological and moral problem.
Food waste in the United States is a major ecological and moral problem. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, Americans in 2015 wasted 31% — or 133 billion pounds — of their overall food supply.
This is a tremendous waste of natural resources, contributes to climate change, and squanders food that could be saved for the country’s most vulnerable. Two years ago, the EPA decided to address the issue by announcing a new goal of reducing food waste by 50% by 2030.
The students at Texas Christian University (TCU) in Fort Worth have stepped up to meet the challenge of reducing food waste. Last spring, students organized to create the TCU Food Recovery Network. It began by donating leftover food from its dining halls to the Union Gospel Mission of Tarrant County homeless shelter. When the football season started, the group expanded its donation efforts by collecting the unused food served in the suites and club seats at each TCU home game.
The haul from their first game netted over 1,000 pounds of food for the shelter. “Everything that gets brought here gets used,” Robert Clethan, the food services director at the Union Gospel Mission, told the Star-Telegram. After the game, the food is frozen then transported to the shelter by the TCU Food Recovery Network the next day. The donations consist of delicious game-day munchies — including brisket, chicken wings, cornbread, potato salad, and cookies.
The Union Gospel Mission serves meals to about 300 people three times a day, so the food is truly a godsend. According to its website, its mission is “providing love, hope, respect and a new beginning for the homeless. We strive to end homelessness one person at [a] time.”
TCU’s efforts are a wonderful example for universities everywhere looking to reduce food waste while aiding their communities. “People really want to help out, but they don’t know how to help out sometimes,” Clethan said. “They just need to know there’s a place like this that can use things like that.”