“Throwing away food is like stealing from the table of the poor and hungry”

Pope Francis

Hunger Action Network has made it a priority to work on legislation that diverts healthy, unused food to the programs that help to feed the hungry. Most recently our members celebrated the success of the passage of the Farm to Food Bank Refundable Tax Credit followed by the School to Emergency Feeding Programs legislation being signed into law this past year.

The Food Recovery and Recycling Act would address food waste in New York with key provisions to prevent, recover and recycle food waste. The act would require the state’s  largest food waste generators to reduce their food waste by first donating excess food to food rescue organizations and then recycle food scraps.

Nearly one in seven New Yorkers (almost three million people) lack consistent access to sufficient food. Three-quarters of a million children live in food insecure households.

Nationally, current food recovery efforts capture only about 10% of edible food available. Yet less than one-third of the food we throw out in this country would be enough to feed all 42 million food insecure Americans. While feeding the hungry with leftovers is not a long-term solution to the systemic injustices in our food system, it is an important opportunity to immediately address  food insecurity and to limit the harmful greenhouse gases caused from unnecessary food waste.

In New York, food makes up 18% of the municipal solid waste stream. The vast majority of this food is disposed of in landfills where it breaks down and releases methane, a potent greenhouse gas. Recycling the approximately 275,000 tons of wasted food each year would impact greenhouse reductions equal to removing more than 25,000 cars from the road.

After diverting the usable food to the emergency feeding programs, the remaining food waste would be recycled at a composting facility or an anaerobic digestion facility. The soil that is the end product is filled with rich nutrients that can then be used by our New York farmers to reinvigorate their soil for the next growing season.

The Food Recovery and Recycling Act is a win for the hungry, the environment and our family farms.