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Food Bank Partner Sign-up Competition Extended to September 15 with New "Suite" Incentive

Posted by Elise Golan, Director for Sustainable Development, Office of the Chief Economist, U.S. Department of Agriculture in Food and Nutrition
Feb 21, 2017
USDA volunteers harvest food for a local food bank during a gleaning event in Clinton, MD.
USDA volunteers harvest food for a local food bank during a gleaning event in Clinton, MD.

Food banks around the country have engaged in a friendly competition all month long to get the most food donors to sign up as participants in the U.S. Food Waste Challenge, with the food bank that signs up the most donors to be honored in an event hosted by the Department of Agriculture.  We are now extending the deadline for the competition to September 15th.

If you are still on the fence, maybe the experience of one of our Challenge partners will convince you.

Monumental Sports and Entertainment (MSE), owner of the Washington Capitals, Mystics, Wizards and Verizon Center, is one of the businesses that has joined in the fight against hunger and food waste.  Since 2011, when it began working with the hunger relief program “Rock and Wrap it Up!”, MSE has donated 7,377 pounds of wholesome unsold food to D.C. Central Kitchen, which translates to approximately 5,600 meals for the D.C. community.

But they think more partners are needed for this important work so MSE, through their foundation, is donating six suite tickets to either an NBA or NHL game at Verizon Center in Washington, D.C. for the 2014-15 season to the winning food bank.  Consider it a “suite” incentive in our current food bank partnership signup.  “One of the Foundation’s five pillars of engagement with the local community is supporting efforts to reduce hunger and homelessness,” said Elizabeth Wodatch, Monumental Sports & Entertainment Foundation’s executive director.  “Donating wholesome food to help feed people in need – one of the objectives of the U.S. Food Waste Challenge – is a natural fit.”

The U.S. Food Waste Challenge, which was inaugurated in June 2013 by USDA and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, calls on businesses and organizations across the country to join the effort to reduce food waste in the United States. Food waste is roughly estimated at between 30-40 percent of the U.S. food supply.  By reducing this waste, we can help reduce food insecurity and ease pressure on our precious natural resources. Through the food bank competition, USDA and Feeding America are seeking to spotlight those businesses across the country that are donating unsold wholesome food to help their neighbors put food on the table. Feeding America estimates that food donations supplied 2.7 billion meals to its clientele in 2010.

“The importance of reducing food waste by capturing excess food and providing it to people in need is not a new concept for Feeding America and our member food banks. Last year, the Feeding America nationwide network of food banks and our partners diverted over 2 billion pounds of food to feed Americans facing hunger,” said Bob Aiken, CEO of Feeding America, the nation’s leading hunger relief organization. “We know that we can’t solve the issue alone – working together with the USDA and our network of food banks we can make sure that all of our neighbors have enough food to eat.”

Food Banks can get their donors and partners to join the competition by signing up for the U.S. Food Waste Challenge on Feeding America’s website.

Category/Topic: Food and Nutrition

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Daniel R. Woerner
Aug 29, 2014

I have worked for USDA FSIS as a Food Inspector, Food Technologist, & Consumer Safety Inspector in Texas for over 35 years working 148 different federal plants. In short, there is too much waste of edible food protein in many federally inspected plants where these plants simply self-condemn wholesome food such as chicken necks, livers, gizzards, & hearts to the tune of over 100,000# per day! Note: each wasted giblet set (neck, liver, heart, gizzard) weighs at least 8 ounces and an average sized plant slaughters 200,000 birds a day. These plants should be given incentives to salvages this edible food and distribute it all to the hungry around the world. Many poultry plants do not salvage the edible by-products or edible offal when they are only interested in the skeleton muscle  meat of the birds. They cut the neck and entire viscera off and let it go down the drain. Many plants slaughter a half a million birds a day so you can see how much waste this involves. Plants claim the labor is too much to salvage this edible food and no one wants the “A Grade bird with giblets” anymore.

Can FSIS or Food Banks petition do something here? Maybe the plants could get tax breaks or incentives to save all this food for distribution. Maybe the food banks or world services organizations could come in and salvage the neck & giblets. A billion plus pounds dumped every day of edible food in the chicken plants alone! Similar issues we can discuss in beef, pork, turkey plants if we can talk or if you want more information on this. I believe that if the meat, poultry, and egg industries knew they could salvage this wholesome food, they would be happy to help out if the incentives were there for them. If somehow we could save this food, it would amount to millions of pounds a day for food banks, etc.

There are many other similar issues of food waste that could be addressed to feed hungry people worldwide.