Approximately one billion people in the world are food insecure while roughly one-third of the world’s food (at least 1.3 billion tons) is wasted annually, according to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). In the developed world, food is thrown away as a result of over-buying and misinterpretation of expiration and sell-by dates. In the developing world, food is lost because of poor infrastructure, pests, and disease. In both cases, the hard work that farmers do to produce crops is wasted.
Many organizations are working to find ways to put an end to this paradox, including Feedback, an environmental organization dedicated to ending food waste at every level of the food system. As part of their efforts, they are bringing their popular food waste awareness festival to the United States to take food waste #OffTheMenu.
Their U.S. campaign is intended to educate people about how to create change in the food system to collectively put an end to food waste. Feedback is partnering with The Rockefeller Foundation and a coalition of more than 40 organizations and chefs to make this a reality.
The campaign will kick off with a series of Feeding the 5000 events in New York City and Washington, D.C. These events provide 5,000 people with a free meal, made entirely from fresh, quality ingredients that would have otherwise been thrown away.
The New York feast will be held on Tuesday, May 10, from 11am to 4pm in Union Square. It is supported by renowned tastemakers such as Chef Dan Barber, Chef Jason Weiner, Chef Evan Hanczor, and entrepreneur Liz Neumark. The meal will be prepared in the kitchens of Great Performances Catering and Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen and will provide an additional 5,000 meals to City Harvest’s network of local food banks and soup kitchens.
“Worldwide, there is growing recognition of the colossal problem of avoidable and unnecessary food waste. Thankfully, there is also a growing awareness of the menu of delicious solutions that exist to tackle it,” said Tristram Stuart, founder of Feedback. “Feeding the 5000 events are designed to celebrate these efforts while simultaneously empowering the general public to make informed decisions about buying and using food, and to demand change from the food industry. Supermarkets, in particular, must recognize that it's no longer acceptable to discard food in dumpsters and cause farmers to waste crops while people go hungry. It's up to us—the public—to recognize that every forkful, trip to the fridge, or visit to a grocery store is an opportunity to take a stand against food waste.”
Feedback, a London-based organization, has been orchestrating these feasts around the world since 2009. They have hosted 34 Feeding the 5000 events in cities such as Paris, Dublin, Milan, Amsterdam, Barcelona, and Brussels, totaling more than 170,000 meals.
They have been successful in helping to reduce food waste by 21 percent in the United Kingdom, and they are now focusing their efforts on the U.S.
Anyone is welcome to attend the Feeding the 5000 event in New York on Tuesday, May 10, and Feedback is also seeking volunteers to help prepare or serve the feast. They are having a Disco Chop Party on Sunday, May 8, where hundreds of sous chefs-in-training will help peel and chop vegetables to be served at the event. If you’re interested in volunteering, sign up via the event page here.
As the movement grows, be sure to look out for a Feeding the 5000 event in a city near you!