Written by Meg Metzger
Thanksgiving is nearing, which means families around the country will soon be gathering around the dinner table to swap stories and share the most comforting of meals. As the air starts to cool, our bodies crave rest, our souls crave connection, and our bellies crave heartwarming recipes. While it is an opportunity to replenish ourselves, this food-focused holiday has evolved into a celebration of gratitude and giving back to those in need.
This year at UpWest, we will be putting our focus toward supporting food recovery programs. We will be donating 1% of our online proceeds throughout the month of November to a nonprofit organization called We Don’t Waste located in Denver, Colorado.
Waste Not, Want Not
What exactly is a food recovery program, you ask? It’s a program whose purpose is to recover quality, unused food from the food industry and deliver it to nonprofit partners such as soup kitchens, food pantries, schools, and shelters to help reduce hunger and food waste.
According to the USDA, food waste is estimated to be between 30-40 percent of the food supply. The estimate from USDA’s most recent economic research, referencing 31 percent food loss at the retail and consumer levels, equates to approximately 133 billion pounds or $161 billion worth of food in 2010 alone.
The amount of waste continues to grow and it has far reaching impacts on our society and environment. It is not only a waste of wholesome, potentially nourishing food, it is also a waste of land, water, labor, and energy that are used in producing, processing, transporting, preparing, storing, and disposing of this wasted food. The support of these food recovery programs is important to help reduce waste at the industrial level. Here are a few ways you can make a difference in your own home and community.
Gather your family and friends in the kitchen and cook up an array of freezable meals to bring directly to a shelter or coordinate delivery to families in need. If you're not much of a chef, dive into that overflowing pantry of yours or go the extra mile to buy a few non-perishable items and bring them to your church or local food bank. Busy schedule? Save time by donating money to your favorite nonprofit organization.
Short on extra cash? Consider donating your time. It’s worth just as much, if not more. Shelters and food kitchens are always looking for help, especially this time of year. Whether you are a seasoned volunteer or you're stepping out of your comfort zone, volunteering to help our fellow humans in need can be a soul-satisfying experience.
The expression, "your eyes are bigger than your stomach" refers to our tendency to fill our plates with more than what we are able to eat, often resulting in a lot of food going in the trash. Choose smaller portions, knowing you can usually go up for seconds if you’re still hungry. Instead of throwing out leftovers, start a tradition of family members bringing their own containers to bring home, or again, consider donating to a local church or nonprofit.
Thanksgiving is just that- a season of giving thanks. When you are sitting around the dinner table this year, take a moment to take inventory of the abundance in your life. Look around and notice the people, your health, and the food that provides you with so much joy and sustenance. After a bit of reflection and gratitude, ask yourself how you can share these gifts with others in need. What better way to give back to your community and support the planet than through the power of food?