NEW YORK, April 18, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Recent research has revealed that the United States spends $218 billion a year growing, processing, and transporting food that is never eaten. Up to 63 million tons of perfectly edible food end up in American landfills each year – a terrifying number from a resource and greenhouse emissions perspective, but all the more galling in light of the roughly 49 million Americans who live in food insecure households.
In efforts to shed light on this critical issue and its tasty solutions, Feedback, an environmental non-profit organization dedicated to ending food waste at every level of the food system, today announced its U.S. campaign, with support from The Rockefeller Foundation and in partnership with a coalition of more than 40 like-minded organizations and chefs, to Take Food Waste #OffTheMenu.
To kick off the campaign, which is designed to educate people on how they can redefine their relationship to food waste and foment change in the American food system, Feedback and its coalition of partners will host a series of Feeding the 5000 events in New York City (Tuesday, May 10th, 11am-4pm in Union Square) and Washington, D.C. (Wednesday, May 18th, 11am-4pm in Woodrow Wilson Plaza at the Ronald Regan Building and International Trade Center).
Each Feeding the 5000 event provides 5,000 members of the public with a free feast, made entirely from fresh, top-quality ingredients that would have otherwise been wasted. In New York, the celebratory banquet, supported by top food tastemakers such as chef Dan Barber, chef Jason Weiner, chef Evan Hanczor, and entrepreneur Liz Neumark, will be prepared in the kitchens of Great Performances Catering and Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen and will furnish an additional 5,000 meals to City Harvest's network of local food banks and soup kitchens. The Washington, D.C. meal will be procured and prepared by DC Central Kitchen, with Chairman Emeritus and Culinary Ambassador for the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves chef José Andrés; Chairman of DC's Food Policy Council, chef Spike Mendelsohn; chef Anthony Lombardo; and other acclaimed foodies and food policy experts lending their support to the festivities. Each event will also showcase the work of partner organizations in the fight against food waste and will highlight a range of issues linked to the global food waste crisis and the practical solutions available.
"Worldwide, there is growing recognition of the colossal problem of avoidable and unnecessary food waste. Thankfully, there is also a growing awareness of the menu of delicious solutions that exist to tackle it," said Tristram Stuart, founder of Feedback. "Feeding the 5000 events are designed to celebrate these efforts while simultaneously empowering the general public to make informed decisions about buying and using food, and to demand change from the food industry. Supermarkets in particular must recognize that it's no longer acceptable to discard food in dumpsters and cause farmers to waste crops while people go hungry. It's up to us - the public - to recognize that every forkful, trip to the fridge, or visit to a grocery store is an opportunity to take a stand against food waste."
Feedback, based in London, England, has been catalyzing national movements to tackle food waste around the world. Since 2009, their guerilla style events include over 34 Feeding the 5000 events in locations such as Paris, Dublin, Milan, Amsterdam, Barcelona and Brussels, equating to more than 170,000 meals. Encouraged by its success in helping reduce household waste by 21% in the UK, and in catalyzing the food waste reduction movement in France, Feedback is now teaming up with American citizens, governments, non-governmental organizations, experts and celebrity chefs together to kick-start and scale up the solutions to food waste nationwide.
"We are incredibly excited to support this coordinated campaign, which we view as an important step in a worldwide effort to reduce food waste by half," said Dr. Zia Khan, Vice President for Initiatives and Strategy at The Rockefeller Foundation. "Food waste is an immense global problem, but it's one with solutions readily at hand. As part of The Rockefeller Foundation's YieldWise initiative, which represents the first comprehensive, systemic effort to tackle food waste at every level, these events demonstrate how we all have a role to play, whether at home, while dining out, within retail supply chains, and across many other sectors."
Barbara Turk, Director of Food Policy for the City of New York, added, "In a city where 1.4 million people are food insecure, and even more have limited access to affordable, healthy food, it's essential that residents and businesses work together to reduce food waste at all levels. Mayor Bill de Blasio is committed to achieving zero waste, as outlined in OneNYC – and we are thrilled to partner with Feedback and a broad range of stakeholders at the Feeding 5000 NYC event to devise creative solutions to the problem of food waste."
Feeding the 5000 NYC partners include: City Harvest, GRACE Communications Foundation, Sustainable America, The V. Kann Rasmussen Foundation, NRDC, Center for Biological Diversity, EPA, the NYC Mayor's Office of Sustainability, the NYC Office of the Food Policy Director, Food Recovery Network, The Sylvia Center, GrowNYC, Slow Food NYC, NYC Schools, the James Beard Foundation, UNEP, Food Tank, Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen, Salvation Farms, The Drexel Food Lab, AmpleHarvest.org, Rescuing Leftover Cuisine, Transfernation, and the Marble Collegiate Church.
Feeding the 5000 DC partners include: DC Central Kitchen, The Campus Kitchens Project, EPA, USDA, UNEP, DC Department of Energy & Environment, DC Food Policy Council, DC Department of Public Works, DC Food Recovery Working Group, DC Greens, the Accokeek Foundation, Dreaming Out Loud, NRDC, National Consumers League, ReFED, Together We Bake/Fruitcycle, MEANS Database, Community Food Rescue, Food Recovery Network, and Capital Area Food Bank.
Feedback encourages communities to get involved with the lead up to the Feeding the 5000 events at each city's Disco Chop Party, where hundreds of volunteers will groove to music while peeling and chopping rescued vegetables to be served at the main festival. NYC's Disco Chop will take place from 4:00pm – 8:00 pm on Sunday, May 8, 2016 at Holy Apostles Church (296 9th Ave, New York, NY 10001). The Disco Chop in Washington D.C. will take place on Tuesday, May 17th, 2016 from 9:00am – 3:00pm at St. Luke's Mission in the Fellowship Hall (3655 Calvert St NW, Washington, D.C. 20007).
In conjunction with the launch, Feedback and its partners are asking players within the food industry to Take #FoodWaste #OffTheMenu through four courses:
- Properly-Wrapped Dates, Simply Served: US supermarkets and manufacturers should agree between themselves, without delay, to a single uniform date labeling system for the whole nation to replace the confusing mess of "best if used by", "sell by," "expires on," and other labels that lead to consumers unknowingly throwing out good food.
- Ugly Vegetables served with a Reduction of Farm Level Waste: Supermarkets should sell "ugly" fruit and veg and stop causing farmers and suppliers to waste perfectly good food on account of overly strict cosmetic buying policies.
- Transparency Casserole: Supermarkets and major manufacturers should measure and report precisely how much food they currently waste, as hiding the problem hinders the solutions.
- Just Desserts: Supermarkets and food retailers should make all unsold, surplus, fit-for-consumption food available to organizations that can put it to good use by feeding people, rather than just discarding it.
Feedback is a non-profit environmental organization (UK Registered Charity No: 1155064) that campaigns to end food waste at every level of the food system. Feedback catalyzes action on eliminating food waste globally, working with governments, international institutions, businesses, NGOs, grassroots organizations and the public to change society's attitude toward wasting food.