Disastrous Waste

In a shocking bit of front-page food waste news, Washington Post reported today that FEMA wasted $43 million of prepared food last summer because it ran out of warehouse space. Truckloads of MRE-like meals–6 million of them–spoiled as they sat outside in the Alabama heat. 

This situation makes an easy meal for politicians playing the public watchdog role. Enter Senator Joe Lieberman: “I am angry about this senseless waste of taxpayer money and hopeful that the FEMA reorganization that our committee recommended . . . will put an end to screw-ups like this,” said Lieberman.

I find it interesting that, as with most publicized instances of waste, nobody comments on the squandering of food itself. Just on the waste of tax dollars.

Some of the food waste came as a result of a happily light 2006 hurricane season. But much came as an overreaction to the aid shortages after Hurricane Katrina. FEMA’s deputy director, Coast Guard Vice Adm. Harvey Johnson admitted that yesterday. To prevent more shortcomings like the 2005 Gulf Coast disaster, Johnson said they used “brute force” in stockpiling massive amount of food, water and ice. To which I’d ask, can we be a bit less brute? Or pair that brawny supply with some shrewd storage?

After Katrina, less than half of the 182 million pounds of ice sent to the Gulf was used. Trying to repurpose the ice, The Post reported, “trucks roamed the country for two weeks,” and one ended up at an Arizona zoo where “the ice was used by polar bears and other animals.”

If FEMA couldn’t find some spare shelf space in an air-conditioned building, here’s another idea: How about using some of the millions of pounds of ice it squandered to stop the food waste?

This entry was posted in Food Safety, General, Stats. Bookmark the permalink. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.