Free meals made from 'food waste' handed out in Manhattan

- Free meals were given out in Union Square to bring awareness to food waste in the United States. This was all part of a campaign called Feeding the 5000 that shines a light on global food waste, according to NRDC Senior Scientist Dana Gunders.

"We're really trying to raise awareness about how much food is going to waste in this country," she said. "About 40 percent of all the food in America never gets eaten. And it's a huge waste of resources. It's a huge waste of money."

And it's consumers who collectively waste more food than grocery stores, restaurants, or farms. And it happens way more than you think.

"Food gets wasted everywhere," Gunders said. "Those big portions we get served in restaurants and then we don't wind up finishing it, but you don't bother to take it home. Or maybe you do take it home, but you don't actually eat it. That counts. It's the lettuce that goes bad in your fridge. It's the office party you have where they order way too much food and no one really wants to eat it."

A trio of chefs took 6,000 pounds of what would have been food waste and turned it into 10,000 meals to feed many throughout the city.

"5,000 are provided here, and 5,000 are provided through City Harvest to give to homeless shelters," said Chef Rob Valencia of Great Performances. "There rest of the food that we didn't use, was then packaged up and then given to homeless shelters as well."

Folks seemed to enjoy the culinary cornucopia of fruits and vegetables.

Each year, the average American wastes 290 pound of food. In fact, food waste costs the average American family of 4 roughly $1,500 per year.

Here are a few tips on how you can waste less:

  • Be mindful of what you are buying in the grocery store. Buy only what you will really eat.
  • You can freeze food before it goes bad to save for a later time.
  • The expiration or best by dates you read are actually the dates for the freshest quality. There is no need to throw food on the actually date stamped on the package.
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