Another Food Waste Problem During Covid-19

The Lempert Report
July 06, 2020

There is no question that more of us are cooking at home, and with the recession hitting many families hard, there is a renewed effort to stop wasting our food – and making the most out of every meal.

But there is a problem.

Civil Eats reports that while some home gardeners compost their own food scraps, the vast majority of Americans don’t have access to any type of curbside food scrap collection. According to a 2019 report, just 326 towns and cities (less than 2 percent of American communities) offer curbside food waste collection.

New York City only began its voluntary organics pickup program in 2017, as part of the city’s plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2050, and barely a year later halted expansion of the program.

Although the program, which is available to roughly 3.5 million New Yorkers remained in operation in March and April, the New York City Department of Sanitation recently announced it would suspend the service through May as the result of the pandemic.

Food waste is responsible for 6 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. Now, images of farmers forced to dump milk, smash eggs, and destroy produce have filled social media and news reports in recent weeks. According to Politico, it took the U.S. Department of Agriculture more than a month to begin buying large amounts of surplus produce. Yet, even before the pandemic, an estimated 33.4 percent of edible produce went unharvested in fields and plowed under.

Dana Gunders, our friend and the executive director of ReFED, has set up a new grant program. The ReFED COVID-19 Food Waste Solutions Fund is a streamlined, one-stop, rapid response vehicle for donors who want to deliver critical support to these organizations. 100 percent of donations are directed to well-vetted food waste solution providers on the front lines of the COVID-19 crisis. To date, the Fund has raised and distributed more than $1 million to organizations that expect to drive impact of more than a total of 10 million pounds of food waste prevented or 8.3 million meals rescued within the next 90 days. 

To join the effort just go to