Long before we sit down with friends and family at the Thanksgiving table, we start thinking about the leftovers — many of which go uneaten. Not to make you feel guilty if you haven’t polished off your mashed potatoes, but food waste is no joke in our country. 30-40% of America’s food supply goes to waste, much of it ending up in landfills. The good news is that many retail brands are stepping up to combat food loss and waste in their operations:
- Yum! Brands is not new to the food donation game. Since 1992, KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell have contributed over 180 million pounds of food to more than 3,000 nonprofit organizations through its Harvest program. Turn that into dollars and it’s a fair market value of $860 million! This year alone, Yum! has also pledged to donate 10 million pounds of surplus product as part of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Food Recovery Challenge. Even their cooking oil is recycled. Both KFC and Pizza Hut have surplus cooking oil collected by a service provider so it can be converted into biodiesel. We can all rest a little easier if we don’t finish that next bucket of chicken.
- Wegmans grocery store chain is another retail brand with creative solutions to food waste. They are turning their surplus food into power. Partnering with Natural UpCycle, Wegman employees wheel the food scraps out of the store where they are picked up by a Natural Upcycle truck. The scraps are then taken to one of two local farms, where the scraps are converted into electricity through a generator. The process creates enough electricity to power the entire farm. That’s the equivalent of 400 homes for one year. Wegmans donates all edible food not sold in stores to local food banks; only scraps that cannot be eaten are part of this energy program.
- Starbucks made big news this year for announcing that 100 percent of their unsold food will be donated to charity, targeting five million meals given to individuals and families this year alone. By 2021, they say, they’re aiming to give away 50 million free meals. And they’re leaning on partners like Food Donation Connection and Feeding America to help get the job done.
We love seeing the generous donations of food this time of year, but we’re especially grateful for those retailers that do it everyday. That’s something to be thankful for long after the Thanksgiving leftovers.