Food waste is a huge impact on the sustainability of food systems globally. If we are concerned with figuring out how to sustainably feed the growing world population without converting more land to agricultural use and solving the environmental impacts that come with that, shouldn’t we focus on our current food waste and making our systems more effective?
In America alone it is estimated that 30-40% of our food supply is wasted. That’s a staggering amount. If we had a better way of storing and distributing food evenly we could theoretically feed almost double the amount of people than we do now. In fact this has become such a concern to the government in recent years that in 2015, the USDA and EPA announced a goal of reducing food waste by 50% by the year 2030. Not only would reducing food waste reduce our demand for more agriculture, it would also prevent buildup of food waste in our landfills (it is the single largest component) and reduce the amount of methane produced by landfills. Methane is greenhouse gas that traps up to 100 times more heat in our atmosphere than Carbon Dioxide within the first 5 years of its atmospheric life cycle and thus has a significant greenhouse gas effect.(http://www.onegreenplanet.org/animalsandnature/methane-vs-carbon-dioxide-a-greenhouse-gas-showdown/)
The EPA and USDA have their own programs, The Food Recovery Challenge and The Food Recovery Challenge, respectively. These programs are designed to reduce food waste but many other non-profit organizations have popped up to help combat food waste as well. Just a few of these organizations include The Food Recovery Network out of Maryland, the DC Central Kitchen in Washington D.C, We Don’t Waste in Denver, and Boulder’s very own Boulder Food Rescue. (http://www.usda.gov/oce/foodwaste/faqs.htm)
Boulder Food Rescue was founded in 2011 after research conducted on the CU Campus led the 5 founders to believe that something needed to change. “They discovered that enough food is thrown away or otherwise wasted each day to feed everyone who goes hungry in Boulder and Broomfield Counties.” The company has evolved from providing meals in the park to now also picking up and delivering food at pre-arranged locations all around Boulder.
Program Director Lindsey Loberg – Photo: Ruben Karel
Volunteers for Boulder Food Rescue make trips to donation locations where they pick up food by bike and then deliver it directly to one of 40+ scheduled drop off locations whether it be a low-income housing development, retirement home, preschool or food pantry. The food is typically used within 24-48 hours. The whole idea behind Boulder Food rescue is that food that would be wasted because typical transportation methods to food pantries that would render the food stale, or spoiled are replaced with a sustainable and quick transportation method that prevents food waste.(https://www.boulderfoodrescue.org/history/)
Boulder Food Rescue even published a Food Waste Audit in February of this year. Among other things, it broke down how much food has been saved and where they can improve in the future. Since its founding, Boulder Food Rescue has prevented almost 1.5 million pounds of food waste from entering landfills and almost 85% of this food rescue was done by human-powered transportation. Boulder Food Rescue has been such a success that a Colorado Springs Food Rescue split off has even formed. Even though Boulder Food Rescue is just a small portion of what the whole United States needs to do to reduce food waste, it is a step in the right direction and proof that a small non-profit organization can have a huge impact. (https://www.boulderfoodrescue.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/2916-Boulder-Food-Waste-Audit.pdf)
If you would like to learn more about Boulder Food Rescue, or are interested in volunteering or donating, I encourage you to check out their website at www.boulderfoodrescue.org