People in Montgomery County go hungry even in a prosperous County like ours. According to Feeding America’s Map the Meal Gap study, an estimated 78,000- 82,000 Montgomery County residents do not know where their next meal will come from, referred to as “food insecure”. Perhaps more alarming 35% of children in Montgomery County Public Schools qualify for free or reduced meals.
Even though there are active businesses and organizations that recover food in Montgomery County, food waste still accounts for nearly 23% of the solid waste stream. That equates to 246,000 tons per year. Wasted food also wastes the land, water, and energy that was used to produce the food itself.
Food rescue refers to any food enterprise including groceries, restaurants, caterers, farms and farmer’s markets that donates and redirects food to people in need before it is discarded into landfills.
Manna Food Center, the largest food recovery organization in Montgomery County aggregates and redistributes about 4 million lbs. of unused food to almost 12,000 families annually. Nourish Now has rescued and redirected 148,000 lbs. of food in 2014. Recipient organizations like Shepherd’s Table, Interfaith Works, Rainbow Community Development Center and Gaithersburg Help, distribute this food.
But given that 246,000 tons of food are still wasted each year there is much more food that could be rescued. Think about caterers, restaurants, hotels, country clubs, colleges and universities, hospitals, and food vendors whose prepared foods are currently thrown out at days end.