We’ve all seen it, the mounds of food that find their way into the dumpsters and trash cans behind and in our favorite restaurants. According to ReFED’s Restaurant Food Waste Action Guide, the restaurant industry is responsible for over 11 million of the 52.4 million tons of food that ends up in our landfills every year in the U.S.
A better and more promising statistic is this: For every dollar invested in reducing food waste, a restaurant can save approximately $8, and by developing recycling programs and partnerships, these same restaurants can keep 2.6 million tons of waste out of landfills and reduce carbon emissions by 1.9 million tons.
Surprisingly, it’s third-party delivery services, both the bane and blessing of the industry, that are helping make a difference in a restaurant’s environmental footprint. Most notably, Postmates has stepped up to the plate in an effort to not only curb food waste, but also fight hunger. Let’s take a look at their pilot program that is sweeping across the nation.
Listen to Postmates’ YouTube Video, The FoodFight! To End Hunger and Reduce Food Waste, and you’ll first be presented with this data—there are over 53,000 people in the greater Los Angeles area that suffer from homelessness and hunger. Astonishing that just one city in America can bear the weight of so much pain.
Across the U.S., that number rises to a staggering 610,000-plus people that are homeless on any given night and millions that are hungry. In fact, one in eight Americans live on incomes that put them at risk for hunger.
But, instead of lingering on the disheartening statistics, let’s get back to businesses that are doing something to contribute to a solution.
It was the year 2018 that Postmates developed their program to help end hunger. Restaurants that partner with Postmates simply request a pickup of excess food and have it delivered to a local shelter—all with the touch of a button. Way to go Postmates!
According to Emily Slade, a FoodFight! Ambassador, “If we can eliminate the friction in the donation process by making it as easy as calling Postmates to make the food donation delivery, then we can really make an impact.”
The Butcher’s Daughter, in Venice, California, is just one of the 3,000-plus restaurants that have found Postmates’ FoodFight! Program to be an answer to helping end hunger by contributing instead of throwing away good food that can no longer be served. The program is now in 23 cities across 17 states including New York, San Francisco, and Baltimore, and continues to grow.
They are not the only third-party delivery company that has developed a solution. Doordash’s Project DASH program helps facilitate the pick-up and delivery of donated surplus food. Food that would have been thrown away is put into the hands of those that distribute food to the homeless and needy, including food pantries and shelters.
Since 2018, over 625,000 pounds of food that amounted to over 9,500 deliveries, have found its way from restaurants to hunger-relief nonprofits. They praise their partnerships with food rescue platforms such as Copia, Replate, Transfernation, Urban Gleaners, and 412 Food Rescue for making their efforts to reduce food waste and eliminate hunger possible.
With these types of programs available to restaurants, what’s holding some back from keeping excess food out of their waste cans? Doordash revealed five myths that they found pervasive in the industry. Here are just a few:
Surplus Food isn’t Safe to Eat
The type of food that finds its way from restaurants to shelters is high-quality, unserved food. It’s food that comes from excessive inventory or over-prepping.
There are Legal Risks Associated with Donating Food
The Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act, passed by Congress in 1996, is a federal law that states that those who donate food in good faith to nonprofits are exempt from liability in the event that the food causes harm, unless, of course, their exists gross negligence or intentional misconduct. Since this act was passed, no one has been sued for a food donation.
Food that’s Thrown Away will Decompose
Did you know that it takes 25 years for one head of lettuce to decompose in a landfill? At the same time, the food in landfills are releasing methane—a greenhouse gas that, according to the EPA, is “28 to 36 times more effective than carbon dioxide at trapping heat in the atmosphere over a 100-year period.”
The bottom line: whether using a third-party delivery food waste program, or initiating one of your own, restaurants can make a tremendous difference in both creating a healthier environment and reducing hunger. A great resource for additional ideas is ReFED’s Restaurant Food Waste Action Guide.