Guest post by Rachel’s Network Member Betsy Fink of the Betsy and Jesse Fink Foundation
Of all food produced in the United States, 30-40% is wasted. 30-40%. Take a moment to let that number really sink in. Through the Betsy and Jesse Fink Foundation, we started to understand the massive scale of food waste after helping Martha’s Vineyard establish a gleaning program five years ago. Over the past year, we’ve gone even deeper in trying to understand the scale, scope and solutions to food waste. From our research to our funding to even getting our hands dirty by collecting food scraps from a local market, we have learned waste is everywhere in our food system.
This waste has consequences for climate change, sustainable agriculture, energy and water availability, food access to underserved communities, and ultimately healthy communities:
• If global food waste were a country, it would be the third largest greenhouse gas emitter, after only China and the United States.
• In the United States, 16% of methane emissions, 25% of freshwater and 4% of oil is used to produce, transport and dispose food that is never eaten.
• 1 in 6 Americans is food insecure, while 60% of food waste would equal the quantity of food provided through SNAP nutritional assistance programs, all food banks, and the remaining gap in food availability that exists today, as calculated by Feeding America.
At the Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems Funders conference being held in Denver this week, we will be sharing our bold goal to combat food waste. We believe that a coordinated effort of NGOs, foundations, corporations, municipalities, policy makers and entrepreneurs can reduce 30% of food waste in the United States over the next 10 years.
There are already innovative solutions available tackle this challenge, ranging from policy to market and finance solutions. They include modifying food date labels so consumers understand that the date labels indicate food quality – not food safety, food traceability and preservation technologies to increase the life of fresh fruits and vegetables, and low/no interest loans for municipalities to overcome financial barriers to starting composting programs.
The Betsy and Jesse Fink Foundation and MissionPoint Partners have committed substantial human and financial resources towards this goal. We invite you to join us on this journey to reducing food waste. Please join the conversation by leaving a comment below.
Elizabeth (Betsy) Fink is co-Chair of Marshall Street Management, a family office/private investment firm and President of the Betsy and Jesse Fink Foundation, whose focus is on conservation and environmental education issues. In addition, Betsy serves on the Board of Wholesome Wave and Advisory Councils for local nonprofits. In 2005 Betsy established Millstone Farm in Wilton, Connecticut, a working farm which serves as an educational outreach hub, supporting other farmers, community organizations, school groups and restaurateurs who are interested in learning more about the practice of sustainable agriculture, its implementation and its impact on local economies and food quality.