In honor of World Food Day on October 16, Rewire Me is spotlighting the work of amazing nonprofit organizations that are currently leading the fight against poverty and food waste in the United States. It’s an interesting and alarming fact that 15% of the population living in one of the most advanced nations on the planet—ours—still struggles with food insecurity. And yet, impressively, this same nation throws away around 30% of its available food supply, annually. Considering that 1 in 7 struggle with hunger in the US, the paradox is truly staggering.
Feeding America is one of the nation’s biggest hunger-relief organizations, which consists of 200 food banks from around the country that work together to provide meals for 46 million people at risk for hunger, including children and the elderly. The idea was conceived and put into action by John van Hengel in the late 1960s. Since then, food that otherwise would have been wastefully discarded is being stored in food banks for people in need.
Research conducted by the organization shows that unemployment is a better predictor of food insecurity than poverty among people living in the United States. In 2014, some 46.7 million people were living below the poverty line, among which the median annual income was around $9,200. Feeding America provided assistance to an astounding 46.5 million people last year alone. By investing $0.98 from every donated dollar, the company is able to secure almost 4 billion pounds of food, annually. The help provided by the organization is absolutely invaluable.
Operating from the heart of NYC since 1982, City Harvest is a nonprofit that works with numerous organizations, foundations, corporations and volunteers, to alleviate hunger for the 1.7 million New Yorkers affected by poverty by providing free food deliveries to 500 emergency food programs operating around the city.
According to City Harvest: “In the United States, up to 40% of the food we produce goes to waste. More than 30 years ago, City Harvest recognized that by redirecting good, excess food to our neighbors in need, we can fight hunger through food rescue…City Harvest will collect 55 million pounds of excess food from restaurants, grocers, bakeries, manufacturers, and farms, and deliver it free of charge to 500 community food programs across the city this year, helping to feed the nearly 1.4 million New Yorkers facing hunger each year.”
Furthermore, the organization works with residents, community organizations, afterschool programs, and local businesses to raise awareness about healthy food, as well as ensuring that people living in underprivileged neighborhoods can still have access to affordable and healthy food.
Factory farming, as we know it today, originated on American poultry farms back in the 1920s and grew into an enormous and enormously profitable industry. By the 1970s, however, the unsustainable practices being used started wrecking havoc on rural economies and local environments.
Though Farm Forward was only incorporated in 2007, the nonprofit is an advocacy and consulting organization that aims to transform the way Americans eat and farm. Many of the organizations policies come from individuals such as Jonathan Safran Foer, the author of Eating Animals and passionate animal rights advocate. The unique role and positioning of the organization helps it lead the fight against irresponsible and harmful farming practices. One of the ways it does so is by partnering with other organizations such as ASPCA and Compassion in World Farming to promote different types of efforts that lead to better treatment of animals and more sustainable farming practices.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, animal agriculture is the number one cause of water pollution. Considering that we get an astounding 99% of our meat, dairy, poultry, and seafood from factory farms, we have to ensure that the practices of today don’t hinder our ability to produce quality food for everyone—in need or not—tomorrow and beyond. This is why Rewire Me wanted to bring these incredible nonprofits to your attention, we hope you have a happy and informed World Food Day.