Updated: Aug 2
How often do you go out to eat and elect not to take home the few bites left on your plate? How often do throw out moldy bread or sour fruit? You may not realize it, but Americans waste absurd amounts of food every year, and every little bit further contributes to this issue.
According to the USDA, Americans waste over 133 billion pounds of food, worth $161 billion. For some context, that breaks down to each person wasting 400 pounds of food each year. The Borgen Project, an activist organization dedicated to refocusing political attention towards extreme poverty, estimates that our global community could solve world hunger by allocating $300 billion towards that initiative between now and 2030. By eliminating just two years' worth of America’s annual food waste, we could theoretically solve world hunger. It’s devastating to consider all the labor, time, resources, and energy that go into producing food that will eventually sit in a landfill. It’s even more heartbreaking when we consider how much of a difference that food could make, both on a global and a local scale.
Food Bank NYC reports that 13% of New York City residents are food insecure, meaning that they don’t have access to 3 healthy meals a day. That percentage adds up to about 1 million people in our own community who don’t have consistent access to food, while the rest of our community throws out “surplus” food every day. It is tragically ironic that our nation throws away hundreds of billions of dollars worth of food, yet we fail to sufficiently feed local communities.
Food waste and food insecurity are two issues that transcend all boundaries; they impact our local, national, and global communities. We cannot depend on one or two people to solve this problem (while they may have more than enough money to do so), so we must take matters into our own hands. We are New York strong and can overcome any issue that bears down on our fellow New Yorkers. So how can you make a difference?
You can contribute to a better cause simply by downloading Too Good to Go, a free app that allows you to buy
leftovers from grocery stores and restaurants. How the app works is that you can request to pick up the leftovers from an establishment at the end of the day, and they will surprise you with a bag of ingredients, pre-made meals, and even some complete dishes at an astounding price. The first time I tried this app out, I went to a local grocery store and received some Indian spiced basmati rice, a frozen burrito, a cup of Ramen noodle soup, some vegetarian chicken nuggets, three packages of cookies, and some peanut butter, all for just $3. The next time I tried it out, I got some extra veggie dumplings and a low mein dish from a nearby Chinese takeout restaurant for $4.
The app is super user-friendly. Once you create your account, the app will automatically take you to the “Browse” tab. This is where you can set your location, dietary preferences, and/or restrictions, and search for restaurants. The app will also recommend restaurants, bakeries, and other food services to you based on your filters. You can add restaurants to your “Favorites” list by tapping the heart in the upper right corner of each restaurant icon.
If you want to see all the restaurants in your area, simply hit “Map” at the top of your screen to see places throughout New York City. If you tap “Discover” at the bottom left corner of your screen, you will see feature deals and one-time offers from specialty restaurants and markets. To place an order, simply tap your desired restaurant, click “Reserve,” and follow the payment instructions from there.
The app makes it very easy to obtain ridiculously affordable and delicious foods, and it gives restaurants and grocery stores a simple outlet to redistribute their excess ingredients. One of the main sources of food waste comes from restaurants and grocery stores throwing away their surplus food at the end of the week, so by ordering food through the app, you actively take part in the initiative to reduce food waste. On top of that, you can get some of your staple ingredients or a yummy treat for an unbelievably low price; sounds like a win-win to me.
Going beyond the effort to reduce food waste, Too Good to Go offers a convenient source for you to obtain food that you can donate to food banks, charities, or directly to less fortunate people in your own community. This redirects food that would otherwise waste away in landfills to nearby underprivileged families and communities, thereby contributing to the fight against food insecurity. It kills two birds with one stone—reduces food waste and fills a low-income family’s plates.
Of course, we can’t solve the food waste and food insecurity problems in our nation overnight, but each person’s contribution makes a difference. Too Good to Go is without a doubt the easiest way for you to reduce food waste on an organizational level, and it provides you with the resources to help our city overcome food insecurity. You can help your community at the click of a button, so what’s stopping you? Let’s make an impact starting right now!