Technology a valuable tool in the fight against food insecurity
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Detroit — At the Sharing Table in Detroit, Michigan, food is put out for anyone in need.
“You can see who’s hungry, you can see it in their eyes,” said Bonnie Askew, a regular attendee.
“Times are hard,” she adds. “People don’t have a decent meal.”
Some of the food at the Sharing Table comes from Chad Techner, with Metro Food Rescue. Techner drives a truck around Detroit collecting food that is about to be thrown out and delivering it to local food banks — part of the more than 33 million Americans lacking stable food at home, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
“It’s unconscionable to me that, like, we waste 40% of the food in this country,” Techner said. “Well, one in four kids don’t have enough food to eat. I have four young kids. It’s a statistic that really gets home.”
Techner’s team filled a truck at Bimbo Bakeries USA, maker of Thomas’ English muffins, with food just past the best buy date.
“If we wouldn’t get it to a food bank, we would have to throw it out so it would completely go to waste,” said Matt Zuidema with Bimbo Bakeries.
Each year, nearly 120 billion pounds of food goes uneaten in the U.S., worth about $408 billion, according to numbers from the nonprofit group Feeding America.
“There’s more than enough for everyone to eat,” Techner said. “We just don’t get it to the right place at the right time.”
But technology is helping curb waste, linking people with affordable meals. Apps like Too Good To Go lets users buy a bag of items from restaurants and stores at a deep discount, before it is thrown out.
“There’s a bit of randomness to it,” said 28-year-old Kevin Suggs, a resident of Bedford-Stuyvesant in Brooklyn. “But when you’re paying $3, $4 or $5 a pickup, it’s always, you know, net [return on investment].”
In Detroit, Askew said that Americans need to understand that there is a need.
“If you don’t see it, the hunger, go look for it,” Askew said. “It’s out there. Donate your leftovers. Buy a couple extra boxes of this or that. Find a pantry and donate.”