Up to 40% of food in America goes uneaten, according to the National Resources Defense Council. That translates to 72 billion pounds of food going into landfills rather than kitchen tables.
How You Can Help
The largest amount of food waste comes from our own homes—around 43% according to Feeding America. But don’t feel guilty! Helping to educate your household on food safety helps make small choices that add up to a bigger impact.
Understanding date labels is a great place to start. There are no uniform descriptions used on food labels for open dating in the United States. Infant formula is the only product for which date labels are federally regulated. As a result, there are a wide variety of phrases used on labels to describe quality dates. According to the Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation, most foods will remain wholesome and safe to eat long past the expiration date.
These dates are how manufactures suggest when the item is at its peak freshness. It’s a suggested date for when products should be sold while still offering enough time for a consumer to take home, store and eat later.
Best If Used By
This datemethodindicates when a product will be of best flavor or quality. It’s best to check food by touch or smell after this date. However, it’s not a safety date according to the USDA.
Food storage suggestions are a must-follow. Always refer to the product label first for any special instructions.
Waste Less, Save More Money
Food waste at home is also costly. The average American family throws out $1,600 worth of food a year. Gleaners helps our guests and community eat healthy and stretch their food budget through our Cooking Matters® programming. There are many tips and tricks to reduce food waste, including how to plan your shopping trip, utilize your freezer and adapt recipes in order to use the food you have on hand.
Gleaners’ Current and Future Work
Together with other food rescue organizations throughout Michigan, Gleaners helps ensure nutritious food does not go to waste. With a dedicated distribution center in each county we serve, the Gleaners team and our volunteers help sort and store donated food and ensure it is delivered to our hungry neighbors in a safe and timely manner. For example, our Warren Distribution Center has a temperature-control room where donated fruits and vegetables are individually quick frozen to retain nutrition and quality. Volunteers help package the food in a safe working environment. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Michigan National Guard is helping with this vital work.
With produce and dairy making up nearly half of all food distributed by Gleaners, equipment and transportation play a big role too! Large refrigeration units and transit trucks help us keep donated produce, dairy and other perishable items fresh right up to distribution.
Gleaners is actively partnering with 200 of our fellow food banks to unlock the food supply chain and rescue healthy food that would otherwise go to waste. With 54 million people struggling with hunger in 2020, and 1.8 million in Michigan, this work is more vital than ever. Stay tuned for updates on this progress and how we are helping the national food supply chain become more sustainable.