Nonprofits, advocates, private companies and government agencies throughout Maryland are joining forces to fight hunger. The food recovery movement is gaining in popularity, as it is helping feed people who otherwise would not have access to nutritious foods.
One in every four people living in Baltimore does not have access to healthy foods and rely on foods from corner stores. The food recovery movement is helping to connect the chain, by diverting food that would have generally been tossed in the trash to feed those who would either go hungry or eat less nutritiously.
Baltimore Free Farm grows vegetables on city lots and conducts regular “food rescues.” The group works in the food recovery movement, picking up food donations from local markets and distributing them throughout the city.
Maryland Food Bank partnered with local farmers to supply pantries at community groups and churches with foods leftover after harvest. Hungry Harvest is another group that works in the food recovery movement, delivering nutritious foods to paying customers in the mid-Atlantic region. The for-profit company also operates markets in food deserts, offering produce at half-price.
Three students at the University of Maryland started the Food Recovery Network, after they discovered the large amount of food tossed into the trash at their dining halls. Today, approximately 200 campuses nationwide work with community groups to help feed people who cannot afford or access nutritious foods.
Preventing fresh food from being thrown away not only helps to feed people in need, but also helps to reduce food waste and preserve space in landfills.
According to the Maryland Department of the Environment, an estimated 850,000 tons of food is tossed in the trash each year in Maryland.
The state held the first-ever food recovery summit in November 2016. Nearly 200 representatives of supermarket chains, farms, nonprofits and government agencies attended the event. Topics, like reducing food waste and changing the regulation and permitting of composting facilities, were discussed.
In 2015, Maryland composted 127,000 tons of food waste, which more than doubled the 85,000 tons in 2005.