NPR Spotlights Food Donation

NPR’s All Things Considered ran a fabulous feature on food donation last night, A Squash’s Journey (Sort of sounds like a kids book, no?)

The story focuses on Walmart’s impressive food donation program. Specifically, it traces the, yes, journey of a squash and an ear of corn from the retail shelf to food bank recipients’ mouths. It’s a neat piece and well worth a listen.

Equally important, there’s a jaunty graphic illustrating the process of getting food from Walmart to food banks to those in need. See–food recovery is fun!

Anyway, I had a few thoughts on Walmart:

  • $2 billion of donated food by 2015 is a huge amount! Kudos to Walmart.┬áBut let’s not forget that Walmart is a huge chain and, essentially, they’re doing what they should be doing.
  • That said, most supermarkets donate food. No other retailer has made such a chain-wide commitment to donating all kinds of edible, unsellable food. Kudos again for that.
  • Also, no other retailer has sought or accepted such (deserved) publicity for helping feed those in need with food that otherwise would have been tossed.
  • Hopefully this will prompt more stores to donate all of their foods–including the really perishable stuff–and to seek or accept whatever publicity they can get.

A few other thoughts on the story itself:

  • The haul from one store: 102 lbs of meat, 330 lbs of produce. Wow. Big stores, lots of fodder for donation.
  • The segment highlighted two major waste inducers: sell-by dates and how appearance trumps taste:

“There’s nothing wrong with the corn itself,” Bowman says. “When you pull back the husk, the corn inside is still beautiful, but because the outside’s a little dry, we’ll be pulling this.”

  • Awesome corn-shucking audio at about the 3-minute mark (as the employee utters the above)
  • I like how the piece ended with the cycle continuing. Every day we set about wasting and (hopefully) recovering food.

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One final note: This Saturday, NPR’s Weekend Edition will run another piece on food waste. NPR’s Pam Fessler interviewed me for this one, so I should be in there…

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