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Elann Allison

March 2019

Food waste and Hunger

Food waste plagues our country. The U.S is the highest waster of food in the entire

world, with over 90 million kilograms thrown out a year. 30% of all food produced in the U.S is

wasted, but that is not the only problem (Statista, 2018). Many other resources are lost with the

food. A different problem we face though, is hunger. Over 40 million people are hungry in the

U.S. Something needs to be done about the food waste, and if managed properly can also help

feed the hungry.

Along with 90 million Kg of food wasted, many other important resources are wasted.

Over 200 Billion dollars invested in food is wasted every year in the U.S alone. That makes a

huge impact on the economy. Individually, each American loses around 450 dollars (Zukauskas,

Besides money, many other resources are lost. These include water, fertilizer, cropland

and biodiversity. The loss of these resources costs money and leads to other problems. Landfills

spend millions of dollars to maintain the waste (Statista, 2018). Aside from lost resources and

money, greenhouse gasses contribute to the problems we face.

Decomposing food creates gasses, such as methane and carbon dioxide. Beef and other

meats are a large contributor to this. 1.5% of all greenhouse gasses come from decomposing food

(Barclay, 2011). Landfills spend millions of dollars maintaining these gases.

Hunger is the next problem we face. Around 790 million people around the world are

living in unsatisfactory conditions. Nearly half of children's deaths under 5 years old are caused

by malnutrition (Food Aid, 2018). Closer to home 12.5% of the population lives in some form of

food insecurity (Statista, 2018). With the amount of food wasted, and the number of people

hungry something needs to be done to reduce both.

So what can be done? A lot. Starting with large scale efforts is humanitarian aid, charities

and government aid. The solution comes from finding the cause, then working to fix that

problem at the source. Mercycorps is one example of humanitarian effort that works to end world

hunger. These are some of the steps they are taking.

Mercycorps connects farmers to resources and other people they need to produce enough

food for their family and community. They help communities create plans and skills to manage

their produce, find and maintain clean water, create nutritious foods, and lead a sustainable life.

Mercycorps meets with local governments to create fair policies that allow for easier access to
resources needed to produce food. They also work for women empowerment. They partner with

organizations and women to support independence and decision making. This allows for job

opportunites and increased income/food (Mercycorps, 2018). These are actions one organization

are making to end world hunger. Many other organizations are doing similar things. What can

we do locally and on a smaller scale?

The amount of food wasted could feed billions of people every day. By instead properly

using food that would have been wasted, we can give to the poor and malnourished. A problem

we face is impulse buying. When we buy too much food, we end up throwing it out. That food

could have been used for a better purpose, but wasn’t.

We have all experienced impulse buying. When we are hungry, we tend to buy whatever

looks good at the moment, not thinking of the waste that we might produce. Supersized packages

are also a large contributor to waste. By buying more than we need, we risk throwing out food

that hasn’t even been touched. We can reduce our impulse to buy food carelessly, and buy

strategically to lessen waste from over buying.

Food banks and charities are a great resource for us to use. 16 million people in 2017

used a food bank (Statista, 2018). We can donate to food banks and help the local hungry

population. Restaurants and grocery stores are also working to reduce waste and feed the hungry.

Composting and prepping food on demand reduces waste. Harmons grocery store has created a

composting program for all their stores. Their vice president stated their waste has gone down by

half after creating that program. They also donate non perishable items to local food banks.

1,750,000 pounds of food was donated to these banks (Beeby, 2015).

Schools are also working to reduce waste. In one district, where 4000 dollars worth of

produce is wasted daily (Christiansen, 2015), they schedule recess before lunch. This makes the

kids hungry and lessens the waste. They also package fruits and vegetables in colorful cups,

making them more appealing to the kids.

Parents can help with the waste issue by teaching their kids about the effects of waste.

Knowledge is a powerful tool, yet a huge reason people make mistakes is because they don’t

know any better. Kids can make an impact by learning, and listening to advice given by parents

and teachers. By eating their portion of food and not purposefully throwing out food they can

make a big difference.

With this global problem of hunger and food waste, so much can be done about it. We

may not have control over government policies, and we may not be able to feed millions of

people single handedly, but we can make small impacts. These small actions such as buying

smart, composting and supporting food banks, will add up to create a much larger impact. With

the dedication of everyone, food waste and world hunger can be solved.

Zukauskas, Rebecca Sparling. “Food Waste.” ​Salem Press Encyclopedia​, 2018.



“Food Waste in the U.S.” ​Statista,​ 2018, pp. 1–85. ​Statista,​ externalfile:



CBS News. “Americans Waste Nearly a Pound of Food Each per Day, Study Finds.”

CBS News,​ CBS Interactive, 19 Apr. 2018,

Beeby, Glen. “Food Waste Becoming a Costly Issue in Utah.” ​GOOD4UTAH​,

GOOD4UTAH, 26 Nov. 2015,

Christiansen, Barbara. “Schools Work to Lessen Wasting Lunch Food.” ​Daily Herald​,

Herald Communications, 6 Nov. 2015,


“How Many People Are Hungry in the World?” ​World Hunger News​,

Barclay, Eliza. “How That Food You Throw Out Is Linked To Global Warming.” ​NPR​,

NPR, 7 Oct. 2011,


Greenhouse gas emissions from wasted food: Comparing commodities

USDA and CleanMetrics Corp.

“World Hunger Statistics.” ​Food Aid Foundation​,

“What We're Doing to Help End Global Hunger.” ​Mercy Corps​, 19 Mar. 2019,