The elephant in the dumpster

Good and still usable food is thrown out every day across America. With them is a solution to fixing our society's hunger problem. (Photograph courtesy of  Foerster from Wikimedia Commons)

Usable food is thrown out every day across America. With them is a solution to fixing our society’s hunger problem. (Photograph courtesy of Foerster from Wikimedia Commons)

Of the problems that plague the world, hunger remains on top. According to a 2014 report by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, approximately 805 million people in the world go underfed.

It gets worse. According to the latest report by the National Resources Defense Council, 40% of eatable food produced in America is thrown away. Such behavior has contributed to one-third of the world’s food – approximately 1.3 billion tons – going to waste every year the United Nations Environment Programme reports.

As many leaders still refuse to deal with this problem, people are turning to direct action. One group is leading the charge: college students.

A story by NPR last February has brought attention to students fighting against the epidemic of wasted food. They have been giving them to local agencies to prepare and provide to the poor. If the food can’t be saved then it’s used as compost for gardening.

Higher education Students waste an average of 142 pounds a year according to Recycling Works. College campuses throw out 22 million pounds of food annually the Food Recover Network Reported this month.

Colleges have begun to deal with the problem. For instance: James Gau, cafeteria manager at Saddleback College, has said much of their food’s been prevented from going to waste. This is due to the level of diligence his cafeteria practices regarding food. Gau has estimated only a handful of popular foods like salads and burritos go to waste.

Despite all of this, the food waste problem has yet to shrink. It doesn’t help also that food rescuing has met numerous hurdles. Though aids, such as the Good Samariatan Food Donation Act, have helped their efforts, laws still exist penalizing their attempts to salvage wasted food. Even if done with good intentions and even despite the fact previous owners have abandoned them, punishments ranging from fines to arrests.

The stigma of garbage picking also remains. The potential health risks of doing this naturally pop up and are definitely reasonable. What isn’t however is that the idea of digging through trash, even if done for a good cause, is still seen as a demeaning behavior.

Hunger’s still here and it’s not going away. There’s a finger being pointed at a solution to it and it’s being ignored. If not ignored then demonized.

It’s a conflict of interests to go after people who try save food for good causes. It’s time to start looking at people trying to recycle food as a motivation to act against such waste.

Hunger isn’t going away. We muststart acting on visible solutions and making better ones. Food waste has to be dealt with. It’s a problem that we need to addressed directly and with haste.