Our country is facing a multi-billion dollar food waste problem. U.S. consumers, business and farms are spending about $218 billion per year on food—growing, processing, transporting and disposing—that ultimately does not get eaten, according to ReFED. Every year, 52 million tons of food is sent to landfills and an additional 10 million tons of food is thrown out or unharvested on farms.
Food waste consumes about 21 percent of fresh water, 19 percent of fertilizer, 18 percent of cropland and 21 percent of landfill. It’s an epidemic because we are throwing away our earth’s resources while one in eight people in the U.S. cannot afford enough food for their family.
Feeding America has 200 food banks and 60,000 food pantries and meal programs and is continuing to grow. Its dedication to ending hunger in the U.S. has led them to their next initiative: MealConnect.
In partnership with Google.org, General Mills and Walmart Foundation, Feeding America created MealConnect, “a technology platform that makes it easier than ever to connect donors with surplus food to their local Feeding America member food banks and their partners.”
Here’s how it works: Business donors can access the MealConnect through its website or mobile application, create a free account, upload information about donations and select a pick-up date. The donation is then matched with a partner organization (e.g. soup kitchen), which is determined by an algorithm. Once a match has been made, someone from the partnering organization will pick up the donation.
MealConnect has over 2,500 hunger relief organizations using the platform.
“Working with valued companies, including General Mills, Walmart and Starbucks, Feeding America has been able to distribute more than 4 billion pounds of food annually to people facing hunger. Now, MealConnect will allow us to supplement these great national efforts with donations captured from regional and local donors who may not have a consistent donation stream.” — Diana Aviv, CEO of Chicago-based Feeding America