Each year during the Holiday Season there are many occasions to showcase ones culinary skills and to share meals with friends and family. Once the preparation and eating is done there is often a huge amount of food left over. It can be nauseating to see the leftovers after having gorged on beautiful meals! Resist the urge to throw food away, instead donate the food or dispose of it mindfully so holiday meals can be the gift that keep on giving!
It’s estimated that 30% of food prepared for Holiday meals is thrown away, with so much extra food around abounding during the holiday season, everyone can do his or her part to help fill empty stomachs. Treat this Holiday season as an opportunity to extend your generosity beyond the limits of the dinner table. Your excess could be a huge help to someone else!
Why not donate?
It may seem hard at first to find places that accept leftover’s donations, unfortunately there are many food and safety regulations and legal hurdles that can make donating food not so straightforward. Many places cannot accept cooked or fresh food. Taking the time to do a small amount of research can go a long way. Some foodbanks and homeless shelters will accept leftovers but preferably separated into food groups and in plastic containers. They will also be very grateful to accept your canned and dried food goods, so if you have any lying around, consider giving those too. It’s at the discretion of the food bank or shelter if they accept your donation or not.
If you don’t know where your nearest foodbank or shelter is there are a few services that can help. FeedingAmerica.com has a fantastic function on their website that allows you to enter your zipcode and it tells you the nearest shelters and foodbanks to you. Foodpantries.org can also help with finding a shelter or food bank near you.
There are also several services that will act as the middle man between your leftovers and someone in need, they are often called ‘food runners’. FeedingForward is an app that you can download and order a pick up; meaning you don’t even need to do anything! Someone will come and collect your leftovers and take to a nearby shelter, you then receive an update on the impact of your donation. FeedingForward is currently available in six cities.
Take the initiative
Finding new homes for leftovers can help enormously, wrap food consciously as best as you can and separate out the food groups. If you only have a little of each ingredient you could consider turning the ingredients into a soup. This is a simple gesture that we can all communicate to our friends and family, it's not helpful to see giving away food as only for one type of person, we should all participate in preventing excess waste and exercise the act of giving.
If for any reason you can’t donate food, please make sure you dispose of it appropriately. 95% of food waste ends up in landfills. Once in landfills, food breaks down to produce methane, a potent greenhouse gas which contributes to climate change. In order to reduce this, we can help at home by composting our food waste. Your food waste can be turned into compost to be used as liquid gold for the garden. If you don’t have a garden or if you don’t imagine this is something for you, there are many places to donate your foodscraps to. Farmers will be more than happy to turn your food waste into compost for their farms, one good way to find out who may be interested is by visiting your local farmers market and asking around.
Please plan what you do with the food after the meal is over just as you plan how to make the meal. Being conscious about how you deal with your leftover food this year need not be a huge chore!
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