Understanding the Issues: Hunger, Wasted Food, and the Climate Emergency

May 30, 2023 Updated: January 25, 2024

Through our work, Spoonfuls aims to address three major issues: wasted food, hunger, and the climate emergency. By focusing on these – both in our day-to-day food recovery operations and in our advocacy –  we aim to play a part in creating a more resilient food system that feeds everyone sustainably. 

One way we’re working on these issues is by helping more people (like you!) to understand these issues and to take action to address them. Enter, this blog!

State of Hunger

People in Massachusetts are experiencing hunger almost as, if not more, frequently than they were during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic. According to Project Bread, which uses data from the U.S. Household Pulse Survey, 19.2% of people in Massachusetts were experiencing food insecurity in March 2023. Looking at another set of data, the Greater Boston Food Bank recently published their annual statewide hunger report, which showed that 1 in 3 Massachusetts adults (surveyed between November 2022 and January 2023), face food insecurity. Any way you slice it, many of our neighbors struggle to afford the food they need for themselves and their families, and Black and Latino/a households are disproportionately impacted.

As high as food insecurity rates are now, we’re concerned that even more neighbors could soon be wondering where their next meal is coming from thanks to still-high food prices and the end of pandemic-era safety-net programs designed to supplement people’s food budgets. Here’s where we are:

But bottom line: Even if we scaled back rates of food insecurity to where they were pre-pandemic, that wouldn’t be enough because everyone deserves enough safe, healthy food to eat. And the food is out there. 

At Spoonfuls, we recognize that hunger in the United States isn’t a problem of supply. It’s a problem of access and distribution! 

About Wasted Food

In the United States, 38% of all food goes unsold or uneaten. From farms that leave produce to rot in the field because market prices have changed and it’s no longer economical to harvest, to grocery stores that didn’t sell every box of apples and need to make room for a new shipment, there’s a massive amount of food going to waste in the U.S., and it’s happening across the food supply chain.

All of this combined leads to 149 billion meals’ worth of food going uneaten in the U.S. every year. More wasted food facts:

We see all this wasted food as an opportunity. The more good food we can rescue, the more people facing food insecurity that we can feed. Plus, keeping food out of landfills is good for people, too. (Note: Spoonfuls focuses on food rescue, but we’re one part of a collective effort to minimize wasted food. See other solutions here.)

On Climate

The impacts of the climate emergency are already being felt across the globe. From hurricanes and floods to droughts and heat waves, our homes and lives are already being impacted. As temperatures continue to rise, the impacts are expected to worsen.

We have limited time to minimize global greenhouse gas emissions, and we know wasted food is one big contributor in the U.S. What you should know:

In short, curbing wasted food is one tool we have to respond to the climate emergency.

What You Can Do

By addressing wasted food, hunger, and the climate emergency, we can create an equitable and sustainable food system that fulfills its primary purpose: feeding people! We seek to play a part in realizing this vision every day through our work – and you can get involved, too. If you care about these issues, here’s what you can do:

Speak Up. Even as we’re working to meet an immediate need for fresh, wholesome food today, we’re committed to raising awareness of these issues underpinning our work and raising awareness for long-term solutions to address wasted food, food insecurity, and the climate emergency. You can advocate too!

Food rescue at home. Almost half of all surplus food comes from people’s homes. Curb your wasted food footprint by maximizing the food you have at home!

Donate. Spoonfuls relies on financial contributions to support our food rescue and hunger relief efforts. Help us keep food out of landfills and onto people’s plates.

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