A new certification program launched by the Food Recovery Network encourages people to think about where leftover food ends up.
Many of us think about the source of our food – where and how it’s grown, and by whom – but much less thought is given to where it goes once we’ve eaten our fill. At home, leftovers may get eaten, composted, or forgotten in the back of the fridge, but in restaurants food simply disappears from the table and, once out of sight, is also out of mind.
This is a tremendous problem. In the United States, 40 percent of food is wasted, which adds up to 72 billion pounds of food per year going into landfills, at the cost of $165 billion. There it decomposes, producing methane. At the same time, 1 out of 6 American families doesn’t know where they will find their next meal.The Food Recovery Network, founded by Ben Simon at the University of Maryland in 2011, has come up with a brilliant plan to link these two discrepancies and make them mutually beneficial. In April 2014, it launched a new certification program called ‘Food Recovery Certified.’ Restaurants and businesses can qualify for certification if they donate surplus food to local non-profits and charities at least once a month. They receive a bright green sticker for the front window where customers can see that the business is committed to food recovery.
I love this idea because it benefits all players – business owners, who increase the value of their brand; customers, who support a good cause; hungry members of the community, who get access to satisfying meals; and the planet, by redirecting waste. With the world’s population projected to hit at least 9 billion by 2050, we have no choice but to come up with alternative methods for producing and distributing food, and there’s no better place to start than with redistributing food that is already produced.
The project is still fairly new, so the list of Food Recovery Certified restaurants is relatively short, but Ben Simons has high hopes that it will expand. More information about consulting services and potential tax deductions is available on the Food Recovery Certified website, as well as application forms for certification.
If you’re in the food business, why not be the first recovery-certified business in your community? The more businesses and individuals who start thinking about food waste and taking active steps to prevent or reduce it, the better off we’ll all be.