How to reduce food waste during the coronavirus pandemic

The National Resources Defense Council has a kitchen handbook with a category dedicated to scraps, so you can put potatoes peels and herb stems to good use. 

Behind the “ugly produce” movement

06:12

First published on September 29, 2020 / 3:44 PM As Tuesday marks the first annual International Day of Awareness of Food Loss and Waste, created last year by the United Nations, experts are encouraging the public to adopt new habits to combat the issue. In some areas, restaurants are buying bulk quantities of everyday ingredients, then selling it to their customers directly. But Americans can also take the problem of food waste into their own hands. Fewer trips to the grocery store during coronavirus lockdowns mean that Americans need to be more careful about planning ahead. “Time will tell if new food habits are here to stay,”To help solve this problem, governments, as well as businesses, are buying excess food and redistributing it to food pantries and other places in need. Farm and factory closures, labor shortages, restaurant and hotel closures, social distancing and other safety measures upended food production and distribution, creating a litany of new food waste issues at the beginning of the pandemic. How to reduce food waste during the coronavirus pandemic

By Sophie Lewis

September 29, 2020 / 3:44 PM
/ CBS News

Bride and groom donate wedding food

Bride and groom donate wedding food

01:30

Over one-third of food in the U.S. Foods with “Best by” or “Best if used by” labels can be eaten well past the date, experts say, as long as they look and smell fine. Donate. But the effects are still being felt — one in three families with kids is currently experiencing food insecurityNot only does food waste contribute to the global hunger crisis, it also negatively impacts climate change. With a little creativity, everything in your kitchen can have a purpose. Get Breaking News Delivered to Your Inbox

“Prior to COVID, USDA estimated that each year, the average American family of four loses $1,500 to uneaten food,” Jean Buzby, USDA Food Loss and Waste Liaison, said in a news release Tuesday. Many Americans are buying in bulk during this time to eliminate excess trips out of the house. Food that ends up in landfills does not properly decompose, and this waste is responsible for nearly 10% of global greenhouse gas emissions, according to the U.N. is lost or wasted — about $161 billion worth every year — a problem that has only been exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic. It is especially important to freeze perishable items to extend their lifespans.Understand date labels. According to the Food and Drug Administration, confusion around food labels contributes to about 20 percent of food waste in the home. It’s easier than ever to compost at home to ensure less food ends up in landfills. Get creative. Find your local food bank through Feeding America to donate unused food. Here are some ways to combat this worldwide issue. Plan your meals. Many cities’ composting services were suspended due to the pandemic. But buying in bulk could easily lead to waste if the food is not stored properly in pantries and fridges. It’s important to check what you already have in the house before a grocery trip and stick to your plan to eliminate impulse purchases that could lead to waste. Store food differently. ReFed, a national nonprofit working to reduce food waste, has compiled a database for individuals to find nonprofits and commercial entities that will take unused food and distribute it to food banks, pantries, meal programs and more. Ample Harvest, a nationwide resource focused on eliminating food waste, can help people who are gardening in their backyard find a local food pantry to bring their excess produce. Farmers can work with The Farmlink Project, founded this year by university students, to donate surplus produce to food banks. Learn to compost at home. The Environmental Protection Agency has an interactive map that finds potential industrial, commercial and institutional recipients of excess food.