Food waste, food rescue & why it matters

September 21, 2020 Updated: January 18, 2024

We caught up with the staff of ReFED to ask them about lessons learned during the pandemic, how the world would be different if we wasted less, and what each of us can do to be a part of the solution.

What’s one lesson you hope everyone learns from COVID as it relates to food waste?

COVID-19 has shown us that our food supply chain lacks resilience. Over time, the food system has become increasingly dependent on in-person labor and transportation over long distances. Because of this dependency, COVID-19 led to food business closures and transportation systems shutting down across the entire supply chain, resulting in the movement of food to come to a halt and a surge in wasted food.

Organizations like Lovin’ Spoonfuls and their fellow grantees of the ReFED COVID-19 Food Waste Solutions Fund have demonstrated that it takes creative solutions and partnerships to address these breakdowns along the food supply chain and provide food to the growing number of food insecure individuals. 

Imagine a world where we wasted less (and rescued more)! What are a few things that would be different?

The food system produces more than enough food to feed every man, woman, and child in this country, yet nearly 40% of all food that’s produced is never eaten and goes to waste. As a result, food recovery organizations like Lovin’ Spoonfuls have been critical in moving food that would otherwise be wasted and providing it to those that need it most.

In a world where less food is wasted, it is likely that healthy and nutritious food would be more accessible and available to food insecure populations; that there is an increase in partnerships and collaborations to build a resilient food supply chain; and that, with advancement in technology, more effective last-mile delivery solutions are developed and implemented.

Do you have any recommendations for folks interested in reducing waste at home? Or in their workplace?

Typically, more than 40% of food waste occurs in the home, and while there are no new numbers yet, most experts believe that this percentage has increased since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

To reduce food waste in your own home, we recommend people follow the “Food Waste Five”:

Plan Ahead:

Store Your Food Properly

Use Your Freezer

Learn the Labels

Eat Down

Visit for more information on how to make the food you buy last longer. It’s got a lot of great information – including meal plans, storage tips, recipes, and more.

For businesses, it’s important to understand that wasting food has a direct impact on finances and operations. We recommend making sure that your existing food waste reduction plans are still adequate after COVID-related changes to business operations. And if you don’t already have a food waste reduction plan in place, here are some things you can do:

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