Choices and Waste

It’s a big week here at Wasted Food for Indiana food banks. I just read this interesting discussion of food waste at shelters.

In this behind-the-scenes look at food pantries, the director of the Second Harvest Food Bank of East Central Indiana discusses how letting shelters choose what food they want instead of receiving a pre-bundled bag of goods can avoid waste: 

…pre-packed food was vulnerable to becoming wasted food. If a family could not use flour, the flour might be left in the trash behind the pantry. If members were diabetic and got fruit in heavy syrup, they were not able to eat it. Families, poor and rich alike, have cultural and personal preferences and situational needs.

I had heard of shelters having to throw away bread because they get so many baked goods, but I hadn’t considered this kind of preference-caused waste. It reminds me of the Federal School Lunch Program’s requirement that students take all elements of the meal, even if they throw it away five seconds later. 

I was at a meeting of the N.C. Food Diversion Task Force today at the headquarters of Inter-Faith Food Shuttle, a Raleigh food recovery group. During the meeting, I learned that 8 percent of what the Food Shuttle recovers isn’t used. I’m not sure how much choice they give clients, but using 92 percent of what you collect ain’t bad.

Plus, enlightened souls that they are, they have a local pig farmer collect most of the leftovers, and they compost the rest.


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