First New York, DC Next: Feedback feeds 5,000 People With Wasted Food
Every year Americans throw out $218 billion in food. Approximately 80 percent of that waste happens in the home or in supermarkets. The United Nations found that roughly one-third of all the edible parts of food produced for human consumption gets lost or wasted — that’s about 1.3 billion tons of food per year. It’s estimated that nearly a billion people could be saved from malnourishment on less of a quarter of the food that is wasted in the United States, United Kingdom, and Europe combined.
On its New York City debut last Tuesday, Feeding the 5,000 took over Union Square with the goal of feeding 5,000 people with wasted food, but instead fed 10,000. Yes, you read that correctly: they made 10,000 meals out of food waste.
The meal consisted of three pieces: a torte made from vegetable trim, tops, and peelings; a “quick pickle salad;” and “root-atouille” made from a conglomeration of eggplant, zucchini, red peppers, onions, diced tomatoes, balsamic vinegar, and herb. The produce came from a local specialty food provide based in the Bronx that said it would have otherwise been thrown out if it weren’t for the event.
Events similar to Tuesday’s have been held in throughout Europe and Australia since the original event at London’s Trafalgar Square in 2009. And on May 18, Feedback will host another American event in Washington, D.C. In preparation for the Feeding the 5000 Washington D.C. event on May 18, a group of dedicated volunteers (40 max) will come together on the night before to prep the food to be served at the main event. Combing groovy music while vegetable chopping and peeling, Feedback is inviting volunteers to be a part of the food prep “Disco Chop Party” as well as assisting during the actual event.
Beyond feeding the masses and educating everyday people about food waste, Feeding the 5,000 serves a greater purpose: to convince supermarkets and restaurants to donate food instead of throwing it away, persuade big companies to report the food that they are wasting so those numbers can be examined to find a solution, and to get food distributors to set a regulated standard for food safety labels.
While such a huge task seems daunting, Stuart’s hopeful that things are changing when it comes to food waste. “It is the very fact that we have seen measurable, concrete, and very significant reductions in food waste that gives us faith,” says Stuart. “Catalyzing a food waste movement — galvanizing the public outcry on this issue — is the principle agent for this change.”