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Wasted food continues to fill up U.S. landfills while many Michigan families struggle to eat

Food Waste
Posted at 6:04 AM, Apr 22, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-22 07:31:58-04

(WXYZ) — Did you know food is the single largest component taking up space inside U.S. landfills?

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, more than one-third of all food is wasted.

Things are being done at both the collective and individual levels to combat this.

And while things continue to go to waste, Nico Hills, the food pantry coordinator at Gleaners Community Food Bank says the need for food in this pocket of southwest Detroit keeps growing.

"The line is indicative of the need right and things have really changed here over the last year and a half with the pandemic," Hills said. "Our capacity has gone up maybe twice, triple, four times of what it was."

According to Feeding America, 1 in 7 Michigan kids don't have enough food, yet over 30% of food in the United States ends up being wasted.

During distribution hours at Gleaners, three miles of cars line up outside of the Mercado Food Hub.

"With the two things going on at the same time it is kind of inconciousable to not, you know, find a solution. We have enough food we just don't get it to the right place at the right time," Chad Techner the director of the Metro Food Rescue said.

That's where Techner, his volunteers, and his van come in.

If a restaurant or grocery store has leftover food, they will rescue it.

Every week, the Metro Food Rescue saves around 7 thousand loaves of bread.

"It is both inspiring and amazing to see the solution and infuriating and nauseating to see the problem," Techner said.

Wasted food is also a major contributor to climate change, producing more greenhouse gas emissions than 37 million cars.

Woody Gontina says there are ways to help from home.

"You can see that's probably a week's worth of scraps in there," he said.

This is called composting. Once the jar is filled Gontina will take it out to a tumble bin in the backyard.

Eventually, when it stops snowing in April, he can add it to his vegetable garden.

"We only produce probably one bag of trash a week for a family of 4," Gontina sad.

Whether you are making nutrient-rich soil or giving back to people in need, excessive food waste can be avoided.

Hill says you can rest assured that if it lands at Gleaners Community Food Bank, it will go to good use.

"We don't throw out produce, it all pretty much goes out the door if it is still good," Hills said.

For Earth day, Metro Food Rescue plans on matching donations.

Gontina says Royal Oak will be having an Earth Day rally on Saturday.