On Wednesday afternoon, we were invited to watch the food rescue in progress. The food comes from Trader Joe’s in Miami Beach which is not worth selling but very tasty and safe to eat.
Instead of letting it end up in the local landfill, it went somewhere much more useful.
“What we do is save unsold and unused food and directly transfer it to the people who need it,” said Ellen Bowen, director of the US Food Rescue website in Miami.
Food Rescue US is a non-profit organization that links food donors such as Trader Joe’s and other grocery stores, restaurants, hotels, event venues – with local social service agencies such as shelters and soup kitchens.
And that is done via the website.
The organization also connects them with local volunteers to pick up and deliver food in person.
“Forty percent of all food is wasted, but one in five people sleep hungry every night,” says Bowen.
This specialty food rescue goes straight to Miami Rescue Mission near Wynwood, where Chef Juan Fernandez and his team will turn it into delicious home-cooked meals for homeless and needy families.
“It was not in vain for them and their reaction to us is gratitude,” said Chef Fernandez.
Although fighting food insecurity is part of the Food Save mission, reducing food waste is another. And that’s a bigger problem than you might think.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, an estimated 63.1 million tonnes of food were wasted in the United States in 2018.
Experts from the University of Miami help us understand the impact this has on our environment.
“If not composted properly, it will end up in landfills,” said Lokesh Ramamoorthi, a lecturer at the UM Faculty of Engineering, where he said the student mindset had shifted to sustainability projects.
Ramamoorthi explains that when food rots, it releases methane, a greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming.
According to the United Nations Environment Program, 8-10% of global greenhouse gas emissions are related to wasted food.
The Lovvett app, developed by the Coral Gables couple, works to reduce food waste in different ways. This app helps local restaurants sell excess food that may end up in the trash.
“The food is heavily discounted,” said Rafael Garrido, CEO and co-founder of the app. “In the end, whatever food they have on the shelves that they can’t yet sell, they post it on the app to be picked up normally between the last two and three hours of their operation.”
Garrido says this allows restaurants to reduce their waste and, “at the same time, get new customers and increase their bottom line a little.”
Matthieu Cartron owns La Croquantine, a bakery and bistro in Doral.
“It’s really hard to sell everything because you want your showcase to be full,” says Cartron. “We can store some products, but for example, fruit tarts that we can’t sell for the next day.”
Cartron posts those leftover cakes and buns on the Lovvett App. After a difficult pandemic year, he could now benefit from the excess.
“Then we can sell everything for 50%, 60% off,” says Cartron.
Another important thing to remember from the EPA is that when food is wasted, it also wastes important resources such as land, water, labor and energy that is used to grow, store, distribute and prepare that food.