Reducing Global Food Waste to Alleviate World Hunger
As millions of Americans gathered last week to celebrate Thanksgiving, the holiday’s food-centric tradition was on full display, with tables groaning under the weight of roasted turkeys and bountiful side dishes. Yet, this abundance is mirrored by excess; over 300 million pounds of food go to waste each holiday—a figure that stands in stark contrast to the reality of the one in eight Americans lacking access to adequate, affordable food.
In response, the United States has the capacity to mitigate global food insecurity by reinforcing food systems. This requires the implementation of robust food waste programs that not only distribute food more effectively but also advance consumer education and bolster food recovery organizations. Through these means, America’s efforts to tackle global food security will not only reinforce its economy but also foster global stability and reduce hunger worldwide.
This year, alarming statistics have emerged: 129 million people in more than 30 countries are experiencing severe food insecurity, an increase from 74 million in 2019. These populations, often displaced by conflict, are at greater risk of extremism. Moreover, global food insecurity is affecting trade and contributing to rising food prices internationally.
Current U.S. food security policy favors short-term relief over sustainable, long-term solutions. A prime example is the USAID’s Food for Peace program, which allocates the majority of its $2.6 billion budget to emergency assistance.
Globally, a third of all food is wasted before reaching consumers. U.S. policy should address this by providing liability protections for food recovery organizations, developing new consumer-focused programs, and ensuring more efficient food distribution worldwide. By amending the Good Samaritan Food Donation Act to protect international donors, introducing food storage solutions for farms and relief agencies, and launching consumer workshops on food management, these policies will not only strengthen the U.S. economy but also combat global hunger, bolstering national and international security.
By curtailing food waste, the U.S. stands to save $408 billion annually, reducing costs for farmers, consumers, and businesses by 6%. These savings could then be redirected to invigorate other economic sectors, contributing to American economic expansion.
Furthermore, the strategic distribution of nutritious food would also decrease hunger, with the potential to feed over 2 billion people globally. Reducing food waste would lead to a 60% increase in food supplies, directly benefiting vulnerable communities.
By diminishing hunger, which often underlies conflict, we can expect a subsequent reduction in conflicts and a step toward a more peaceful global community. Since 2021, President Biden has positioned food security as a pivotal aspect of U.S. foreign policy, linking it closely with global stability.
These proposed policies would also yield economic benefits for the U.S., reducing commercial food surpluses and saving on food processing and storage.
Additionally, the policies would support critical American industries by lowering costs for companies involved in food transportation and logistics, and for American farmers by reducing production costs.
Most importantly, reducing global food waste addresses the needs of American citizens by lowering household grocery bills, allowing for the purchase of more nutritious food, and improving overall health and economic welfare.
As a leader in international food security, the U.S. is committed to delivering food to tables around the world. By reducing global food waste, the U.S. honors the spirit of Thanksgiving, ensuring the human right to food and guaranteeing that all Americans—and people worldwide—are well-fed. Let us extend the generosity of our tables, sharing our bounty with neighbors at home and abroad.