Growing up, my father often shared frustration more than once when one of us kids left milk in our glass or extra food on our plate after dinner was done. As many of us were often reminded, “there are starving kids in China!” Flash forward a few decades, and those lessons have stuck with me. I can’t help but feel frustrated with myself if I find food at the back of the fridge that expired or rotted before I could eat it. As it turns out, a typical family of 4 in the US will waste over 1,000 pounds of uneaten food like that every year. A thousand pounds!
For the past couple of years, we have also become more aware of so-called “food deserts” – parts of town where folks don’t have easy access to grocery stores or other places to get fresh produce. So McDonald’s, Church’s Chicken, and Arby’s fill folks’ bellies because that’s effectively all there is to choose from. So for the past couple of years, we have been volunteering at community gardens around both sides of the metro (particularly those that are part of Cultivate KC) who are creating a greater sense of community and providing sources of nutritious food. I highly recommend volunteering – great folks, and it makes your soul happy.
In September, the Climate Action Coalition Summit at Johnson County Community College formally organized metro-area communities on a mission of sustainability – both environmental and economic. There, we heard from Paul Hawkens – author of Drawdown – that reduced food waste could be the #3 greatest positive environmental impact. Food waste! Now, whether or not you’re as “crunchy” (as in granola) as I am becoming, and no matter how you feel about climate change, the amount food we throw into landfills is staggering – food that was carefully grown, harvested, shipped, paid for, brought home, expired and then sent to the landfill where is entombed forever. Meanwhile, landfills are … well … filling.
This October, we start doing better. We will dramatically reduce food waste, support local growers of food, and know that we have invested in our community. The vision is that everyone in the metro has access to nutritious food, and that nothing goes to waste. The mission is called Food Cycle KC, and we hope you will join us.