It’s not your imagination: your grocery bill has gone up and food prices have risen substantially. Many Americans are feeling the squeeze of the increased costs as food prices continue to rise and food budgets are stretched to their limits.
Since the initial pandemic shutdowns in 2020, food systems globally and nationwide have struggled to adapt to disrupted production and delayed distribution. In addition to all of this, the invasion of Ukraine and subsequent international sanctions on Russia mean that some of the top wheat producers are exporting a fraction of what they used to.
Let’s take a look at some of the consequences of these events on the U.S. food system up close.
In 2020, food-at-home (food you purchase at a grocery store) increased in cost across all food categories by 3.5% on average. The biggest increases in cost were beef and veal, pork, and poultry, increasing at 9.6%, 6.3% and 5.6% in cost, respectively.
This trend continued in 2021 with food prices again increasing at 3.5% on average across all food categories. Not a single category of food decreased in cost, but it’s a good time to be vegetarian! The largest difference was again beef, at a 9.3% increase. The smallest change was fresh vegetables at a 1.1% increase.
Does it get any better in 2022? Most likely not. Looking at the current prices and food trends, the ERS predicts that food prices will still continue to rise at a similar rate in every category. The conflict in Ukraine has placed international pressure on wheat production, with farm-level wheat prices now predicted to increase between 40 and 43 percent and wholesale wheat flour prices predicted to increase between 21 and 24 percent in 2022.
What does this mean for families dealing with food insecurity? It’s not great. The average SNAP recipient in the U.S. receives $239 per month for a household of two. That means one person is getting less than $30 a week.
Let’s say you bring home 2 pounds of ground beef, marinara sauce, two boxes of spaghetti, a packet of deli meat, a loaf of bread, two heads of lettuce, generic cereal, and a gallon of milk. Most Americans will have maxed out their SNAP budget with that much in their grocery cart, and it’s not enough. According to the USDA’s data, the average household of two individuals between the ages of 14 to 71 spent roughly $483 on groceries in March 2022. And that doesn’t include the toiletry purchases everyone makes each trip.
Inflation is expected to continue for a number of reasons. Ukraine and Russia produce about 30% of the world’s wheat, wheat flower, and sunflower oil, and with exports limited, the costs for these bulk items are soaring. Many products containing these ingredients are experiencing an uptick in price, and this also leads to a cost increase for animal products, as the feed these animals consume goes up in cost. To top it all off, increasing fuel prices make food transportation more costly, and the consumer ends up seeing this cost reflected in the cost of goods as well.
That was a lot. What do we do now, knowing that grocery prices will likely just continue to increase? Aside from the common answer of sharpening your couponing skills, it’s important to use what you have! We have a list of tips for keeping food fresh and delicious on our Education page. We have blogs on reducing waste with children at home, and ways you can improve your food storage to reduce waste in your fridge and pantry.
Keep an eye out for your neighbor as well! Food insecurity can affect anyone, at any time. If you know someone experiencing food insecurity, or you yourself are struggling, call the Colorado hotline for hunger, at 855-855-4626. It’s a toll-free number with 150+ language options and can provide you with food resources and more necessary items! Our Mobile Food Markets are also up and running nearly every week, and are a great way to supplement your grocery trips.
If you’d like to show your support for your neighbors through We Don’t Waste, check out our Get Involved page to find more ways you can help!
A big portion of food waste produced at the household level is actually edible food! Food waste isn’t just the old pizza in the back of the fridge or the cheese that’s been left to rot, but the little pieces that get shaved off of the tops, bottoms, and sides of food during food prep! Most people just assume these bits and pieces are inedible foods and sweep them into the trash, but many times the ends and stems can be used to create something delicious and can add up to many pounds of food you’re keeping out of the trash.
Carrots are a common food item in many kitchens, and the prep almost always begins with chopping off the top and shaving the outside of the carrot. Try these recipes below to creatively use the parts you may have otherwise discarded, and tag us at @WeDontWaste on Facebook and Instagram so we can see your creations!
Carrot Top Pesto
Did you know the tops of carrots are edible? Not only that, they can make a delicious addition to a pesto and help reduce your waste at home. Mix it with pasta, serve it as a dip, add it to baked smashed potatoes, toss it with white beans, or go all-in with carrots and serve it as a spread over roasted baby carrots.
1cuppacked green carrot tops (rough stems removed)
1cuppacked green baby spinach
1large clovegarlicfinely chopped
½cuproasted, unsalted cashews
½cupextra virgin olive oil
Rinse the carrot top greens to dislodge any dirt. Pick out and discard any dry, yellowed, or otherwise unappetizing looking leaves. Discard tough stems.
Place the carrot tops greens, baby spinach, chopped garlic, roasted cashews, salt, and pepper in a food processor. Pulse several times. Scrape the sides down with a rubber spatula.
While the food processor is running, slowly pour in the olive oil in a steady stream. Scrape the sides down with a rubber spatula. Pulse until smooth.
Store the pesto in an airtight container in your fridge. It should last for up to week in the fridge, or up to 6 months in the freezer.
What do you normally do when you have to clean a carrot? Scrub it with vegetable cleaning solution or shave off the outside? If you shave them, gather the shavings and keep them in a vegetable bag in the fridge. The shavings will keep between 2-3 weeks until you are ready to prep them for this awesome (and vitamin-packed) snack!
Sweet & Savory Carrot Chips
Carrot chips can make for the perfect potato chip substitute when you're craving something salty! The next time you have leftover carrots or shavings from a previous recipe, save them to create a delicious treat.
Preheat the oven to 425°F. Line several large baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
If you've saved the carrot shavings from another recipe, skip this step. Otherwise, trim the carrot tops off and save them for your pesto. Starting on the thick end, slice the carrots paper-thin on the bias to create elongated slices.
Place the carrot slices in a large bowl and add the oil, salt, cumin, and cinnamon. Toss well to thoroughly coat. Then lay the slices in a single layer on the baking sheets.
Bake for 12-15 minutes, until the edges start to curl up and turn crisp. Then flip all the chips over and bake another 5-8 minutes to crisp the bottoms. Once cool, store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.
For one of our recipient agencies, Giving Grocery (formerly known as South High School Food Pantry), food distribution is about more than feeding students; it’s about taking care of the students’ communities as well. We Don’t Waste has been distributing food to the organization since 2018, and is proud to have been a part of their growing impact over the years.
The pantry started in 2014 when Greg Thielen and Jaclyn Yelich’s daughter was enrolled in Denver South High School. Their daughter has since graduated college, but the pantry is still going strong with the duo at the lead.
Students enrolled in the school have the opportunity to shop every Thursday, and the pantry typically serves around 100 families each week. The offerings include fresh produce, proteins, milk, eggs, snacks, culturally relevant items, and even personal care items requested by the students.
For the Giving Grocery, the demand for culturally relevant food offerings is more important than for most, as Denver South High School is home to an extremely diverse community of students. The school has historically been welcoming to immigrants and has had students enrolled from Afghanistan, Sudan, Syria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Eritrea, Venezuela, Honduras, and more. Over 50 countries are represented in enrollment every year!
Part of We Don’t Waste’s commitment to serving the Giving Grocery is through the variety of food we deliver to them to meet their community’s needs. Food itself is essential for survival, but food that tastes like home is an even greater comfort.
When the pandemic hit, Giving Grocery was forced to adapt to changing circumstances and even greater needs.
“For many of our families, the first several months of the pandemic were incredibly difficult,” Greg says. “Some family members became seriously ill, some lost jobs, some had their work hours reduced dramatically, and children were at home instead of school. We worked hard to support our families during the first year of the pandemic by delivering food directly to their homes.”
With the help of dedicated volunteers, the pantry was delivering food to over 30 Denver South High School families every week! They remained open during the summer months as well, knowing that summer, in particular, can be a difficult time for food-insecure families who depend on free or reduced school meals.
Despite the country opening back up and parents and children headed back to their respective offices and schools, food insecurity continues to trouble many families. “The cost of housing, gasoline, electricity, heat, and food force many families to make difficult choices. Do they buy gas to get to work or do they buy food for their family?” Greg says.
Denver South High School is fortunate to have the Giving Grocery serving South’s students and their families’ needs, and We Don’t Waste is proud to have them as stewards of our recovered food. We know that each week, nothing is going to waste, and the people who need it the most are receiving the food and the support they need to thrive.
“Working together, we have made a difference for our kids and their families,” Greg says.
If you would like to support Giving Grocery, check out their website to make a donation and find volunteer opportunities!
Sustainability might be too big of a word to teach a pre-school child, but the idea can be taught!
As an adult it can be easy to make small changes to your habits to reduce food waste, but what about when you have kids? Saving food is not something that naturally comes to mind for a child, and introducing new foods into their diet can be a long and wasteful process.
The following tips should help your home save time, energy, and food!
For the youngest:
Feed them your food
Spare yourself the job of short-order cook by feeding your child the same food you eat, but puréed for the little ones. Serve yourself a smaller portion, knowing you’ll likely finish what they don’t. If you start when they’re young, this tip will help you go much further with the following steps.
Serve tiny portions
We want our kids to try new foods, but studies show many children have to try a food up to 15 times before accepting it! Start with small portions and minimize untouched food. You can always offer seconds when they’re interested.
Re-introduce the food
Speaking of those barely touched portions — save them! Either serve leftovers again in the next couple of days, or incorporate them into something else. Put leftover milk in your morning coffee and leftover veggies in a stir fry. Purees can be added to pasta sauce or soup.
Snacking on the same foods every day and going into a meal with a full stomach makes it more difficult for a child to have an interest in trying new foods. Snack time can also be used for re-introduction to new foods, although this might require some creativity if it isn’t well-disguised!
FOR NEW EATERS:
Forget 5 seconds
Place a clean mat below your small child’s high chair before serving food. That way, food that falls (or gets jettisoned) off the tray is still safe to eat and can be placed back on their plates.
Serve finger foods
If utensils are causing a lot of food spills, consider switching to finger foods more often. Little nuggets don’t spill, can be easily recovered off the mat below, and allow your child to learn to feed themself independently.
Don’t engage in the food fight
Kids throw food on the floor to test their boundaries, but it doesn’t do anybody good to clean an entire meal off the ground. Stay nearby as they’re learning to eat and intervene before the food starts flying. Give them a specific place on their plate or tray to put food instead. They’ll eventually get it, and you’ll have less cleaning to do as a result.
As They Get Older:
Inspect the lunch boxes
Pack reusable containers with lunch, and have your kids bring home leftover food and drinks. Asking why some food went uneaten will help you offer the right foods in the right amounts next time. Sometimes small changes like cutting foods into smaller pieces can make lunch more appealing.
Use the IKEA effect
People tend to like things they helped make, and children are no different. Involve your kids in cooking and give them choices when possible. Allow them to serve themselves in the portions they want, within reason.
Garden and visit a farm
Kids who are involved in growing fruits and vegetables are more likely to eat them. Give your whole family an appreciation and respect for the resources required to bring food to the table by participating in the local food systems that bring the food into the pantry.
While many of these tips can help you reduce food waste in your home, it is equally as important to let your child know why it is important that food is eaten and doesn’t end up in the trash. The World Wildlife Fund has several extensive toolkits for kids ranging from K-12 with educational activities and ways to get your child involved as a food waste warrior! You can also print out our We Don’t Waste coloring page to get your child engaged in the conversation of food waste.
Are you an educator? We Don’t Waste has an engaging education program for schools that can include a food waste audit performed during the children’s lunch period! It’s free, flexible, and content can be tailored to your class’s level and interests.
Food Waste Prevention Week is April 4th – April 8th, and we invite you to celebrate with us! Food waste is something many American households struggle with, but, fortunately, there are some easy ways to reduce it and make a BIG impact.
Food waste costs you! Every year, the average household spends $1,600 on food that ends up in the trash. Nobody wants to lose that money!
It also wastes the time and the effort of the countless people working hard fertilizing, watering, harvesting, and delivering that food to your door. And that’s not all; the wasted food does further damage to our beloved outdoor space.
Let’s get started!
Follow us on social media! We will be sharing tips and tricks and playing food waste prevention bingo all week. We will be giving away some sweet prizes to random winners who participate in the bingo!
After you have saved or printed your bingo card, try to complete as many of the bingo squares as you can throughout the week. Take a photo of yourself completing an activity on the bingo card and tag us @WeDontWaste on Instagram and @WeDontWasteDenver on Facebook. You can also send it through direct message, or email Caroline@WeDontWaste.org to share your entry! Random winners will be selected at the end of the week to receive We Don’t Waste merch!
You can also play Save The Food’s Bingo Card for another chance to win a prize!
Subscribe to our Newsletter! We will send more tips and tricks and keep you updated on We Don’t Waste’s impact on the community!
If you’d like to get the young ones at home involved (or just want to relax with a good coloring session, print out our Food Recovery coloring page!
Keep reading for more tips! We have compiled some tips from SaveTheFood.com on storing some of the most popular and common foods you’ll find in any home. Next time you find yourself looking for an easy trick to make a change, refer back to this guide!
These days avocados are everywhere. Here are some tips to keep them ripe and ready:
• Your avocados ripen best if you keep them on the counter.
• Avocados adore the dark, so keep them out of direct sunlight.
• Once they are ripe, you can keep them a few days longer if you store them in the fridge.
• Once you open an avocado, if you are not eating the full thing in one sitting, you can keep it fresh in the fridge by placing the side with the pit still in it face down in a little water in a container. Or dampen with water, oil, or lemon juice and store in a bag in the fridge.
Potatoes, Onions, Garlic
These common comfort food ingredients prefer to be alone in the dark:
• Keep them cool and dry —To keep your potatoes and onions fresh for longer, store them in a cool, dry place.
• Keep them separated — These vegetables don’t play nice together in the cupboard. Potatoes stored with onions will sprout and rot more quickly than if they are stored separately. So keep them away from each other.
To keep your oranges and grapefruit sweet and juicy, you want to keep them cold and dry:
• Citrus will last about a week on the counter but can keep fresh up to a month in the fridge.
• Make sure your oranges and grapefruits are dry before you store them in the fridge. This will reduce rot and prevent spoilage.
As for lemons, they retain their punch if stored in the fridge in a sealed bag or container.
Cold, fresh milk beats spoiled milk any day. Here’s how we can make the most of our milk, keeping it freshest longest:
• Milk stays best in the coldest part of the fridge — If you can, store it towards the back of the fridge, and on the lowest shelf (that’s normally the coolest part of your fridge). And check your fridge temperature if you can — the best temperature for milk to prevent it from going bad is just above freezing between 33 to 37 degrees Fahrenheit.
• Milk can be frozen to keep even longer — If you have more than you need, you can freeze milk to preserve it for up to six months. Pro tip: Milk expands when frozen so remove 1 cup of milk from the container before freezing. Once ready to drink, defrost in the refrigerator.
Asparagus is one of the first vegetables of spring. Farmers cut young stalks when they peak six to ten inches above the soil line and rush the tender green shoots to our tables. The season is short and plentiful, and we can buy in bulk when it’s cheapest and save for later. Asparagus will keep 10 days to 2 weeks in the fridge and can be frozen too. A few tips for keeping it crisp and happy in the fridge:
• It likes to be cold, but not too cold — Keep it in a crisper drawer or towards the front of the fridge.
• Asparagus is thirsty — If possible stand it up in a couple of inches of water to keep it from drying out. Trim the ends ¼ inch before putting it in a jar with water as you would fresh flowers. Change the water if you see it getting cloudy.
• If you don’t have room to stand it up, wrap it and let it lie down — Trim and wrap the bottom of the bunch in a damp paper towel and store in a crisper drawer or on a shelf toward the front of the fridge.
•To freeze, a little prep time will go a long way: Trim and Blanche – Cut or snap off woody bottom of the stems (bonus: store separately for asparagus soup). Drop-in boiling water for 2 minutes to blanche then drop in ice water to stop the cooking. Dry it well, if possible freeze it first on a cookie/sheet pan and then transfer to a storage container. It’ll last for up to one year.
•Cook it straight from the freezer — No need to defrost. When ready to use, cook straight out of the freeze
As the weather turns warmer, fresh crisp salads and lighter foods, in general, maybe on the menu more often at home. But what if we’re getting our greens only every week or so?. Here are a few tricks to keep our greens from turning limp and mushy:
• Keep them dry — Washed or unwashed, wrap them loosely in dry paper or cloth towel to absorb the moisture that rots them quickly.
• Keep them cold but not too cold — Keep them in the crisper drawer or on a shelf towards the front of the fridge.
• Give them air and space — Place wrapped greens directly in the fridge or place in a covered but unsealed container that lets airflow. Keep them away from other fruits that produce ethylene gas and will accelerate the rotting of your greens, such as apples, peaches and pears.
More than half of all kids say that strawberries are their favorite fruit, and it’s easy to understand why. This bright, sweet, colorful early summer treat can be eaten alone or as the star of a recipe. Some tips to keep them from going soft on us too quickly:
• Keep them cold and dry — Store them in the original container in the fridge and hold off on washing until you’re ready to eat them. This is a good tip for all berries!
• Don’t let a bad strawberry spoil the rest — Sort through your berries before you refrigerate and pick out any that are moldy or spoiled.
• Freeze for later — To enjoy the bright sweet taste of summer throughout the year, you can freeze fresh whole or sliced berries. To freeze, rinse, remove the green stems and caps, dry well, and freeze in a single layer on a baking sheet. Once frozen solid, place in sealed containers and return to the freezer.
Cherries love the cold. Store them in the fridge and they will keep fresh longer. An hour of room temp storage is equal to a week in the fridge when it comes to preserving taste and texture.
•Don’t wash until you are ready to enjoy your cherries.
•Freeze cherries whole, first in a single layer on a baking sheet until frozen solid and then transfer to a sealed storage container and return to the freezer.
Peaches should be stored at room temperature and eaten when you feel a ‘little give’ with a gentle squeeze.
•Once peaches are ripe, you can move them from the counter to the fridge to keep ripe for about a week.
•Peaches prefer to hang out alone – keeping them separated from other fruits will keep them fresh and tasty longer
•Freezing peaches when fresh and in season is a great idea — you can rinse and cut peaches into slices, soak in a water/ lemon juice bath (to prevent browning use about 2 tablespoons of lemon juice to 4 cups of water) and freeze first on a cookie sheet for 4 to 24 hours. Next transfer to an airtight storage container and return to the freezer, where they will last up to1 year
Room temperature is best – Tomatoes retain their flavor and ripen best at room temperature rather than in the fridge. So best to store on the counter, out of direct sunlight in a single layer stem side down.
•Happiest alone – Tomatoes ripen best if kept apart from other summer fruits and vegetables.
•Extend their life in the fridge – Once ripe, if you’re not using them immediately you can store them in an airtight container in the fridge, where they will generally retain their form and flavor for up to a week.
•Freeze whole – If you have an excess of ripe tomatoes, you can freeze whole to use later for soups, stews or sauce. Just remove the stems and freeze (optional, remove core). If you have the space and time, flash freeze in a single layer on a baking sheet until frozen solid then move to sealed containers and return to freezer. Or simply place fresh tomatoes in storage containers and set in the freezer. Defrost, core and use as you would canned tomatoes.
Broccoli is delicious. Here are a couple of tips to keep this favorite fresh:
• Broccoli prefers to be cold and slightly damp and likes air circulation. The best two options for storing it in the fridge for up to a week:
• Wrap in a slightly damp towel before putting your broccoli in the fridge.
• Stand a full head of broccoli in the fridge in a glass so air can circulate around its head as if it were flowers in a vase.
• If you want to keep it fresh for longer, you can prep and freeze:
• Cut the florets (the bushy part) from the stem, drop in boiling water for just a minute or two to blanche, let it dry well, and then store in a sealed bag or container in the freezer. This will keep in the freshness –blanched, frozen broccoli can last up to 1 year in the freezer.
If you’re looking for more active ways to get involved throughout the year, check out our volunteer opportunities! You can also make a lasting impact by making a donation. However you choose to get involved, your support helps us recover more food and feed more Coloradans.
Have you ever wondered how we are able to recover so much food, and immediately get it out into the community? The primary way we distribute food is not our Mobile Food Markets, (although those are very popular) but through our nonprofit partners, who in turn feed the communities they serve.
Most of the food we recover is immediately redirected to one of many nonprofits providing food at no cost to their participants. Whether it takes the form of a snack bar, a grab-n-go produce fridge, or fully prepared meals, we work with our partners to provide the highest quality food and fulfill the dietary needs of their communities.
We recover and deliver this food for free, and through these partnerships, we are able to provide the food to organizations serving many different groups in need.
One of our partners, Denver Rescue Mission, has been a longtime food recipient of We Don’t Waste. The Mission has been at work since 1892 serving Denver’s homeless population, providing emergency services, rehabilitation, transitional programs, community outreach, and of course, warm meals!
“Being able to serve somebody food that you have poured your heart into is a special thing. The hope is that our meals provide a sense of dignity and respect to the people we serve; that’s what matters most.” – Denver Rescue Mission Chef
The relationship with food recovery is reciprocal as well. If there is food on-hand that Denver Rescue Mission does not need, they contact us, and we are able to redistribute the excess food to other organizations in the area.
Through this process, we are able to minimize the food that goes to waste and maximize the access to food in our community.
“The food is good and it feels good to come off the street and be acknowledged by goodhearted people.” – Denver Rescue Mission Guest
The food we provide to these communities is not just about ending the day with a full belly, but also regaining a sense of human dignity, belonging, and connection to their community. Good food provides the energy people need to pursue second chances and new opportunities and can help break the cycles of instability that come with experiencing homelessness. In some cases, these meals even save lives.
Denver Rescue Mission is now serving more than 815,000 meals a year! To put that in perspective, that’s over 2,200 meals a day. We are proud to partner with an organization that has provided integral support in our homeless community for over a century.
By being a member of the We Don’t Waste community, you are helping us provide food to over 90 nonprofit organizations like the Denver Rescue Mission, serving the most vulnerable members of our population. Our community is healthier, happier, and more hopeful because of these free meals — thank you for being a part of the movement to end food waste and food insecurity.
Today is International Women’s Day, and We Don’t Waste is celebrating our women on staff who #BreakTheBias every day! From managing incoming food donations, to driving the trucks to pick up excess food, to evaluating the organization’s impact on the community, we have some incredible women propelling We Don’t Waste as the largest food recovery-focused organization in Denver.
Starting with the leadership of the team, We Don’t Waste’s Director of Impact & Engagement, Allie. Her role involves assessing We Don’t Waste’s impact and figuring out how we can make a bigger and better impact (all while keeping the community at the center of our work).
“One way I work to #BreakTheBias at work is by simply being aware of unconscious biases and challenging preconceived ideas. Most of all, I think it’s important to listen and elevate voices and experiences that you may not notice if you’re not open to hearing from people.” – Allie
Working with Allie to help engage and educate our community is Julia, our Programs and Education Manager. Julia is at the forefront of our education efforts, performing regular school presentations and food waste audits around the city, as well as putting together educational materials and making sure our Mobile Food Markets run each week without a hitch!
Those Mobile Food Markets are run each week in major part because of our volunteers, all of whom are led by our Volunteer Coordinator, Barona. She recruits, trains, leads, and coordinates the hundreds of annual volunteers that come through our doors both in the Distribution Center, and at our Markets. A fun fact about Barona: She is currently working on her carpentry skills, and just received her first toolbelt!
Kayleigh, a Food Recovery Specialist, is a part of our operations team that makes food recovery possible, and she also helps maintain partnerships with our nonprofit food recipients. Food Recovery Specialists are the most important members of our team, facilitating relationships with food donors, maintaining perfect food safety for pickups, and getting the excess food where it needs to go!
“I think I break the bias in my work life by being the only female Food Recovery Specialist on the team. Things like driving a truck, working a pallet jack, and operating a forklift tend to be thought of as more male-oriented jobs, but I do them all!” – Kayleigh
Next, we have Laura, who used to be a Food Recovery Specialist, but has moved over to our administrative side of the office as an Administrative Assistant. Now she focuses on a variety of tasks, “from Mobile Food Markets to grant research and school food audits, in addition to administrative tasks necessary to help keep the team organized!”
Grace, our Food Acquisition Specialist, works daily to bring new food donors on board with We Don’t Waste’s mission. There are countless opportunities to reduce food waste in Denver, and Grace helps find those opportunities and create new relationships! Without her work, we wouldn’t have as frequent and reliable pickups as we do.
Jessica, our Development & Events Coordinator, also works to develop We Don’t Waste’s reputation and relationship with the community. If you’ve attended a We Don’t Waste event, Jessica was behind the scenes, creating an incredible experience for everyone to enjoy. She also helps grow and integrate We Don’t Waste’s partners, donors, and sponsors into one large welcoming community!
Finally, there’s Caroline, our Communications & Marketing Coordinator. She is the one typing up We Don’t Waste’s emails, blogs, and social media posts and stays busy interacting with our community on a daily basis. If you’ve seen an illustration on a t-shirt or on our website, she’s also probably the one that drew it as well.
No matter where we are operating, there is a woman representing us and paving the way forward. We are proud to have such strong female representation in every aspect of We Don’t Waste’s mission.
Grace summed it up the best, “One of my favorite aspects of working at We Don’t Waste is collaborating with my female colleagues — each of whom is brilliant, creative and stands unwavering in her beliefs.”
It’s not a secret that the United States is a major creator of food loss and food waste. In fact, we discard more food than any other country in the world. There have been recent pushes to emphasize food waste as a major lever in reaching our climate goals, but the government can’t do it alone.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Environmental Protection Agency created the U.S Food Loss and Waste Champions in 2015 to get private businesses on board with public commitments to reduce food waste in their U.S. facilities by 50% by 2030.
On February 22nd, they announced 7 new members that have promised to make the necessary changes to help protect our planet.
Danone North America, Albertson’s Company, BJ’s Wholesale Club, Smithfield Foods, Starbucks, Sysco, and Tyson Foods now join the ranks of over 30 companies that are making the commitment to reduce their food loss and waste.
From this point forward, these organizations will be included in the USDA and EPA’s quarterly reporting of the businesses’ progress towards their goals and the impact of their actions. By joining this group, these organizations will be held publicly accountable for their actions in reducing waste, and consumers can have the benefit of being more informed about the impacts of the companies they use.
Looking through the list, there are several popular methods corporations are now using to help reduce waste. Some are choosing to change their inventory management process, as well as their operations and supply chain processes to avoid food loss from excess at the source. Others are choosing to donate the excess foods to recovery organizations (like us!) across the nation to help feed both people and animals.
Commercial composting is being integrated for organic waste, and some corporations are also finding new ways to use byproducts. From reutilizing the scraps to create entirely new products, to creating more biodegradable byproducts, there are several ways many of these corporations are finding creative new solutions.
One notable mention would be the inclusion of Danone North America, the parent company of Two Good Yogurt, and an incredibly valuable partner of We Don’t Waste! For every cup of yogurt purchased, 2 cents is donated to We Don’t Waste, as well as City Harvest out of New York. Through this initiative, Two Good Yogurt is helping us recover hundreds of thousands of pounds of food each month! You can shop for some delicious yogurt to enjoy at several local grocers.
On top of Two Good’s donations, Danone North America is working to reduce waste on its operations and supply chain, in addition to ongoing efforts in its manufacturing facilities.
We are excited to see this list grow, and look forward to watching as new methods for reducing waste are created and implemented across all of the food industry.
And please, eat more Two Good yogurt – the environment (and We Don’t Waste) will thank you!
Everybody’s gotta eat – so why is it that when looking at the demographics of hunger in Colorado, the numbers for food insecurity and hunger across age, race/ethnicity, and locality differ so much?
Hunger and food insecurity are a result of hundreds of factors including but not limited to: debt, joblessness, sickness and hospitalization, lack of access to nutritious food, systemic disadvantage, and any combination of things that may make prioritizing food over other necessities a difficult choice.
We are going to look at some of the demographics of hunger in Colorado to better understand the groups at the highest risk of experiencing hunger and the factors that are causing this disparity.
The most recent survey for hunger by Hunger Free Colorado showed that in April 2021, about 29% of people who identified as white were experiencing food insecurity, but that number shoots up to 43% for those that are Non-white/Latinx.
A primary reason for the difference in food insecurity is the racial disparity in poverty in America, with the overall poverty rate in the US at 11.4% overall, but 19.5% in the Black community. When a household is already struggling to afford all their necessities, additional challenges, such as being furloughed during the pandemic, can often lead to those families sacrificing food first in order to continue to afford rent or medicine.
We also see this with longstanding, systemic issues for food access. When looking at a map of grocers that carry fresh produce, you may notice a pattern of stores clustered together in higher-income neighborhoods.
While there are many ways to define a food desert, the Healthy Food Financing Initiative (HFFI) Working Group considers a food desert as a “low-income census tract where a substantial number or share of residents has low access to a supermarket or large grocery store.”
This can be simplified to asking the question, is there a supermarket or large grocery store within 1 mile of my residence? For rural counties, this radius is extended to ten miles. If you answered no, chances are you are in an area considered a food desert. If you are in a mid-to-high level income area you are not in a food desert because you likely have a vehicle to drive the distance to the store at a cost insignificant to yourself.
The term food apartheid is often used in place of food desert, as supermarkets and grocery stores are strategically placed in areas with higher-income households. In Denver, an example would be the Globeville & Elyria-Swansea neighborhoods. Because this area has historically had more industry and less commercial development, it has remained a cheaper area to live in the city and has a higher population of low-income residents, thus remaining underserved in food resources.
Areas like this are also called food swamps, because of the high number of fast food, liquor, and convenience stores in place of supermarkets. Cheap and non-nutritious food is more accessible than fresh food, making it the reliable choice for families who can’t afford to travel farther for better food or don’t have access to transportation.
With the rate of poverty correlating to racial inequities in the country, it becomes clear how food resources become divided along racial lines as well.
What may come as a surprise, however, is that food insecurity is also different among age brackets. In Colorado, more than 50% of those under 44 reported experiencing food insecurity in April 2021. Those between the ages of 35 and 44 were hit the hardest, with food insecurity levels reaching a staggering 55%. The group least affected are those 65+, with only 5% experiencing food insecurity.
One of the largest factors affecting these age brackets is that many of these individuals are taking care of children. Among households with children, 30% of adults reported having to regularly cut back or skip meals because there wasn’t enough money to buy food, and 44% were unable to consistently put healthy food on the table.
So what about children? In Colorado, about 1 in 5 children are not getting adequate nutrition. These are record-breaking numbers for the state, with pre-pandemic numbers sitting at 1 in 9 children.
An even more shocking fact is that the National Summer Food Service Program reaches fewer than 1 in 10 children in Colorado in need. Many families are experiencing food insecurity during challenging economic times and aren’t accessing the resources they are qualified to receive.
Another key factor in food insecurity is where an individual lives. Prior to the pandemic, the numbers in 2019 showed that rural Coloradans were experiencing food insecurity at a rate of about 12% in comparison to urban Coloradans at 9.3%, and if you were between 19-25, rural Coloradans experienced food insecurity at 25.4%.
If you look at any demographic, no matter age or race, if the individual lives in a rural area, the levels of food insecurity increase. For people living in rural areas, food insecurity is often attributed to less economic opportunity and transportation barriers, as well as less access to food resources like food pantries, community gardens, and more.
Most published surveys of hunger and food insecurity at the end of 2021 have been small-scale surveys, with more data covering the last half of 2021 expected in the next few months. The consequential COVID-19 variants and mandates may have affected these numbers, and the Great Resignation might change this narrative as well.
With all of this data, it is important to understand that hunger is tied to many socio-economic factors, and it looks different in every community across the United States. Not only that, but every community will have different solutions to combat these issues.
Our solution is to recover quality, unused food from the food industry and deliver it free of charge to food pantries, soup kitchens, schools, and shelters serving those in need. Our Mobile Food Markets serve our community directly with free food up to 8 times a month. By recovering food, we are tackling both food waste and food insecurity around Denver.
When discussing food waste and larger sustainability concepts, there are often a lot of terms thrown around with no explanation as to where they came from or what they actually mean. For example, did you know that food loss and food waste are two completely separate concepts? Read on to equip yourself with the knowledge you need to have a productive conversation that everyone can understand!
A carbon footprint is a measure of the impact human activities (as an individual, event, place, or organization) have on the environment based on carbon outputs (including both carbon dioxide and methane).
Carbon neutral means making no net release of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere by producing emissions equivalent to the amount sequestered by carbon sinks (anything that absorbs more carbon from the atmosphere than it releases). This is commonly achieved by offsetting emissions through planting trees.
Carbon sequestration is the process of capturing and storing atmospheric carbon dioxide in plants, soils, geologic formations, and the ocean. It is a natural process (think trees) and one of the most effective ways to reduce the greenhouse effect.
An economy that uses a systems-focused approach and involves industrial processes and economic activities that are restorative or regenerative by design is a circular economy. You will often see this phrase in the context of recycling programs or regenerative farming.
Climate change is a long-term change in the average weather patterns that have come to define Earth’s local, regional and global climates. This term often replaces “global warming,” as it more accurately describes the phenomenon.
Cradle to Cradle
If you were to buy a reusable water bottle, use it for 5 years, and then recycle it to be used to create a new water bottle, you’ve participated in a cradle to cradle system. It is a biomimetic approach to the design of products and systems that models human industry on nature’s processes. It sees garbage as an eternal resource and promotes doing the right thing from the beginning.
The impact of a person or community on the environment expressed as the amount of land required to sustain their use of natural resources is the ecological footprint. Denver’s ecological footprint includes all of the surrounding land used for agriculture and ranching to feed our population.
Ecological restoration is the process of repairing sites in nature whose biological communities (that is, interacting groups of various species in a common location) and ecosystems have been degraded or destroyed.
Environmental, Social, And Governance (ESG)
The ESG is a set of standards for a company’s operations that socially conscious investors and consumers use to screen the company’s sustainability. Environmental criteria consider how a company performs as a steward of nature. Social criteria examine how it manages ethical relationships with employees, suppliers, customers, and the communities where it operates. Governance deals with a company’s leadership, executive pay, audits, internal controls, and shareholder rights.
Food Security (Food Insecurity)
Food security is the state of having reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food. Food insecurity thus means the opposite, having unreliable access.
Food systems encompass the entire range of interlinked activities involved in the production, aggregation, processing, distribution, consumption and disposal of food products that originate from agriculture, forestry or fisheries, and parts of the broader economic, societal and natural environments in which they are embedded.
Food Loss refers to food that gets spilled, spoiled or otherwise lost at production, post-harvest, processing, and distribution stages in the food supply chain. Loss happens before consumers have access to food.
Food waste refers to food that completes the food supply chain (referred to as the retail and consumption stages), of good quality and fit for consumption, but still doesn’t get consumed because it is discarded, left to spoil, or expired. Up to 60% of food loss and waste occurs in consumer’s homes.
Greenwashing is the process of conveying a false impression or providing misleading information about how a company’s products, services, or practices are more environmentally sound.
Organic waste is any material that is biodegradable and comes from either a plant or an animal. Biodegradable waste is organic material that can be broken down into smaller parts, making it an essential component of composting.
A social enterprise or social business is defined as a business with specific social objectives that serve its primary purpose. Social enterprises seek to maximize profits while maximizing benefits to society and the environment, and the profits are principally used to fund social programs. Think of Tom’s shoes donating a pair of shoes for every pair sold.
Sustainable Development Goals (SDG)
The Sustainable Development Goals (commonly shortened to SDG) are a set of interlinked global goals designed to be a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure that by 2030 all people enjoy peace and prosperity. The SDGs were set up in 2015 by the United Nations General Assembly and are intended to be achieved by the year 2030.
Sustainable Food System
A sustainable food system is a food system that delivers food security and nutrition for all in such a way that the economic, social and environmental bases to generate food security and nutrition for future generations are not compromised.
In the context of food waste, the supply chain refers to the production, post-harvest, processing, distribution, retail, and consumption stages of food.
Designing and managing products and processes to reduce the volume of waste and conserve or recover all resources so no trash is sent to landfills, incinerators, or the ocean.
Now that you are an expert on all things food waste, keep the conversation going on social media and share what you learned with the world!