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In the United States 40% of food produced goes uneaten - that is 62.5 million tons of wasted food every year. Meanwhile, there were 42.2 million people, including 13.1 million children, who did not have enough food to lead a healthy, active lifestyle in 2015. While reducing hunger in the US will require addressing the root causes of poverty, donations of wholesome, fresh food can be an important strategy to addressing the immediate needs of millions of Americans.
Additionally, diverting food waste from landfills not only conserves limited landfill space, but also helps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. When organic materials break down in landfills methane, a potent greenhouse gas, is produced contributing to global climate change. Climate change is identified as the greatest health challenge of this century. It impacts our health and ability to safely and sustainably access necessary resources in many ways. Food waste reduction and safe food donation are key strategies that allow us to address two critical health issues- food insecurity and climate change.
Environmental health specialists are uniquely positioned to educate retail food facility operators about safe food donation practices to help combat food insecurity in their communities, and climate change and environmental degradation globally.
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