FOOD INSECURITY – COMBATING FOOD WASTE & CLIMATE CHANGE
Understand the Facts
Almost 14% of CT residents experience food insecurity – meaning they have to choose between food and other basic needs.
According to a 2019 study, 25.5% of Bridgeport residents were food insecure.
An estimated one-third of all food produced in the world goes to waste. This 1.3 billion tons of food either never leaves the farm, is spoiled or lost during distribution or is thrown away. It could be enough calories to feed every undernourished person on the planet.
Food waste is also a significant environmental concern as approximately 11% of all greenhouse gas emissions is attributable to the methane gas of rotting food.
Food is the single largest source of waste in landfills, outpacing paper and plastics.
Food waste is the source of 25% of all freshwater consumption in the U.S. each year and is among the leading causes of fresh water pollution.
Food, agriculture and land use account for 24% of all greenhouse gases.
If food waste were a country, it would come in third after the United States and China in terms of impact on global warming.
WHY ARE WE CALLED TO ACT?
Food waste is an issue that arises at the intersection of two important global concerns: food insecurity and climate change. Feeding the hungry is a fundamental Christian calling (Matthew 25:35-40). Almost 80% of all food pantries and soup kitchens in the U.S. are sponsored or operated by faith groups. As Christians, we are also called to be good stewards of our resources and to care for and protect God’s Creation. (Gen 2:15). The effects of climate change are disproportionately felt by low income communities that lack the resources to remediate risks imposed by climate change or rebuild after the destruction of devastating weather events such as hurricanes.
The Council of Churches works alongside several organizations that champion food recovery and food waste reduction. We rely on their expertise, support their efforts, and endeavor to promote awareness of our common cause. We invite you to learn more about Food Waste and Food Recovery by visiting their websites.
What can we do?
SUPPORT FOOD RECOVERY: We can combat food waste by supporting and promoting food recovery.
What is food recovery? Food recovery is the practice of rescuing edible food that would otherwise go to waste from places such as grocery stores, restaurants, produce markets, farms, and even backyard gardens, and distributing it to local emergency food programs.
How does food recovery address food insecurity? By supplying emergency food programs with edible food, there is an immediate benefit to those food-insecure people served by those programs.
How does food recovery address climate change? Rescuing edible food ensures it will have a more noble fate than rotting in a landfill. Food waste that decomposes in landfills releases methane, a greenhouse gas that is at least 28 times more potent than carbon dioxide. Less rotting food in landfills will lead to a reduction in methane gas that is released into the atmosphere.
How does the Council of Churches support Food Recovery? The Center for Food Equity and Economic Development (FEED Center) of the Council of Churches runs several programs that support food recovery.
CREATE: A culinary training program for low-income Bridgeport and area residents for food industry employment and entrepreneurial ventures. The program makes use of recovered produce to teach culinary skills.
FEED Marketplace: A social enterprise production kitchen that produces healthy prepared and packaged food using recovered produce. The FEED product line engages the CREATE culinary graduates in another level of training, providing hands-on experience to inform the launch of their own food businesses.
Hunger Outreach Network: The FEED Center works closely with close to forty food pantries and soup kitchens by allocating funds for food purchasing and providing technical assistance to improve the nutritional quality of foods offered.
PREVENT FOOD WASTE: Not all food can be rescued. Nevertheless, there are still ways to reduce food waste.
What can you do to prevent food waste?
Consider Composting: Food waste is not trash. It is a useful resource that can be converted into compost. Recycling food waste into compost captures its nutrients and energy and returns them to the environment. For those who would like to save food scraps but are not able to compost, there are services that will collect food waste on a weekly basis. In addition, several local municipalities have introduced food waste drop-off centers where residents can bring food waste.
Plan Your Meals and Eat Leftovers: Not only is it cost-effective, but it also helps reduce waste. Convert leftovers into tomorrow’s lunch and make every meal go further.
Store Produce Properly: Improper storage can lead to premature ripening and accelerated rotting of produce in your home. Did you know that apples and berries should not be stored with cantaloupe, peaches, and pears? Certain foods produce ethylene gas which speeds up the ripening of other foods.
Get Creative: Freezing food is one of the easiest ways to preserve it. But food’s use goes well beyond consumption. Coffee grounds make great fertilizer and mosquito repellent. Avocadoes and cucumbers are wonderful natural skincare products.
Supermarket Rescue: The FEED Center has arrangements with several local supermarkets to accept unsold produce that is still fit for consumption. Special thanks to the following supermarkets that currently participate in this program: [Shop Rite of Milford, Shop Rite of Stratford]
Harvest Rescue: The purpose of Harvest Rescue is to provide a way for individuals to donate produce from their gardens or their refrigerators that is still fit for consumption but would otherwise go to waste. Produce is collected at local churches and delivered to the FEED Center where it is either distributed to Hunger Outreach Network food pantry or soup kitchen or used in one of the FEED Center programs.
Grow a Row: Gardeners are encouraged to grow an extra row in their gardens with the intention of donating the fruits of their labor to the FEED Center. Like Harvest Rescue, produce is collected at local churches and delivered to the FEED Center.
Keen to Glean: Gleaning is the act to collect leftover crops form farmers’ fields after they have been commercially harvested or on fields where it is not economically profitable to harvest. We are working with local farms to set up opportunities for volunteers to help harvest the leftover crops and deliver the collected food to the FEED Center.
What can you do to support food recovery?
DRIVE: Volunteer to pick up donated recovered food and bring it to the FEED Center or a food pantry
HARVEST: Home gardeners can donate their excess produce to the FEED Center for use in their FEED Marketplace
CONNECT: Connect the FEED Center with food industry partners that could provide recovered food or employment opportunities for CREATE graduates.
LAUNCH: Launch any of our initiatives at your congregation. We will help guide and support your efforts.
PROMOTE: Help the FEED Marketplace become self-sustaining by promoting the FEED Marketplace product line at your congregation, school, business or fitness center.
ADVOCATE: Help us spread the word! If you share our mission, please share what you have learned about FOOD INSECURITY, FOOD WASTE, FOOD RECOVERY and CLIMATE CHANGE.