Social Impact of Food Waste

Issues surrounding food waste expand beyond the environmental impact associated with excess use of natural resources and emissions. With millions of Americans struggling to gain access to nutrient-rich foods —like fresh fruits, vegetables and meat — each day, food waste impact our society as well as the environment.

According to Feeding America, 48.1 million Americans, of which 15.3 million were children, lived in food insecure households in 2014. Defined as limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate and safe foods, food insecurity affects 14 percent of U.S. households.

An estimated 141 trillion calories worth of food is wasted in the U.S. each year. Based on a recommended daily intake of 2,000 calories, 530,136 people could be fed for an entire year on food wasted in the U.S. That is more than the population of Tucson, Arizona – the nation’s 33rd largest city.

Retail Food Donation

Retail food donation programs can help to combat food waste and provide healthy, nutritious food to those in need. The government has even protection in place for retailers donating food to non-profit organizations. The Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act protects corporate donors from potential legal liability when donating “apparently wholesome food or an apparently fit grocery product” when given in good faith.

While retailers are legally protected when donating food to non-profit organizations such as soup kitchens, food pantries, and shelters, many grocers chose to forgo food donation or limit donations to foods less likely to spoil quickly, like bakery items. This is done to prevent the likelihood of negative press in the event donated food is found to be unfit for consumption.

Discount stores

food waste paper

Download the Retail Food Waste in the U.S. white paper for more information.

Founded by former Trader Joe’s President Doug Rauch, Daily Table opened its doors to the public of Dorchester, Mass. in 2015. Addressing food waste at the farm, production, and retail levels, the discount food retailer sources surplus food from growers, manufacturers, supermarkets and restaurants. The not-for-profit retailer sells fresh produce, canned and/or packaged foods as well as grab-and-go meals prepared on-site.

Dedicated to providing nutritious food at affordable prices, Daily Table is membership-based and caters to low-income residents of the local community. Nutrient-rich food sold by the retailer may be offered after the sell by date on the package. The retailer insists food sold is not expired with this statement on the Daily Table website: “We will only sell quality, nutritious and safe groceries that still have a reasonable window of use past their ‘display code’.”

The Path to Zero Food Waste

While retail donations to food banks and discount stores servicing the underfed play an important role in minimizing food waste, they are just one part of a multifaceted retail food waste program.

Quest’s comprehensive retail food waste program helps retailers accelerate on their path to zero waste by quickly implementing diversion programs and providing the detailed reporting necessary for regional and national companies to manage and track food waste.

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