Hunger. It's one of the biggest issues of controversy in our modern world. On one end of the spectrum we have people suffering without homes and food in just about every country, and on the other end we have people in this country throwing out nearly 27% of the food available for consumption. It's disgusting. I've watched offices throw out entire trays of perfectly good food just because they over ordered and nobody wanted to take home the leftovers. ENTIRE TRAYS. It's actually appalling. About a month ago I was minding my own business, sitting on a bench, enjoying the sunshine... when a very interesting truck drove past me. On the side of the truck was a massive advertisement for City Harvest.
"City Harvest exists to end hunger in communities throughout New York City. We do this through food rescue and distribution, education, and other practical, innovative solutions." (From the City Harvest Mission Statement)
I am so thrilled that such a service exists. It reminds me of two other extremely heart warming services in this world.
The first dates back to my days as a counter girl/cashier at Michelle's Bakery when I was in high school. With the advent of 'bakeries' or baked good sections inside of every major supermarket, the death of the local mom-and-pop bake shop was inevitable (probably why Michelle's recently shut down). But inventory needed to be there, just in case a customer came in looking for that old-school whole wheat rye sliced thin on one of those ancient machines that nearly took of several of my fingers on several occasions (that's another story for another time). Most of the time, however, we'd be closing up shop and still have 15-20 loaves of bread on the shelves. What to do? What to do? Can't keep it for the next day - stale bread in a bake shop seems like a terrible idea. Don't want to throw it, though. WORRY NOT! Every night an elderly (slightly crazy) gentleman would come to the store at closing time and collect all the leftover breads, bagels, and pastries to take to a local homeless shelter for dinner. Brilliant! I can dig it.
The second example I want to talk about relates to those men and women surfing the NYC subways everyday feeding the hungry. They carry duffle bags filled with sandwiches, snacks, and juice boxes. They may interrupt your morning commute with loud announcements, but it's for a good cause. They not only accept donations from people, but will give ANYONE some food or drinks. "You don't have to be homeless to be hungry." FACT. On more than one occasion I have made a donation in exchange for a Capri Sun. That seems like a no brainer to me... Capri Sun forever.
So how can you get involved/help out?
City Harvest collects food on a daily basis - so if you work at a place that tends to throw out lots of food regularly, maybe approach your manager or someone in HR with this as an option! For more details on donating, click here. If you have no food to donate but still want to get involved with City Harvest, you can find all their volunteer opportunities here.
Additionally, there are little things that we can all do in our homes to help reduce waste! Freeze any meat products or fresh produce that you aren't using immediately - you can freeze almost anything. (A full chart of freezing guidelines can be found here.) Buy smaller containers of milk/juice/condiments/sauces so that you can actually make it to the empty bottle instead of throwing out expired things. Invest in awesome tupperware and make an effort to use Ziploc bags to keep stored food fresh longer.
I'm not saying that doing these little things are going to stop children in India/Africa from starving, but maybe they will help me sleep at night. Even if I can't mail my leftovers to Kenya, maybe I can at least make sure that I'm not being wasteful. Just because we can afford to throw our dollars into the trash can, doesn't mean we should. Right?
Do you guys have any services that you recommend to help solve our hunger or waste problems? Do you volunteer at any shelters or kitchens? Drop it all in the comments below!
Making tiny changes towards a greater good, xx Nikbear