What's Going on With Food Waste During The Pandemic?

Published on May 21, 2020

Food waste has taken on a whole new meaning now that we are in a pandemic. The percentage of food waste before was high, but with shutdowns across the globe, food waste is making a whole new era for itself now. Food waste has been an issue around the world for a long time. Many organizations and people fight against it, but now that many hotels, schools, and restaurants are closed, many farmers are wasting more food than ever.

The Fear of a Food Shortage

Before the pandemic, the problem was that people were trashing their food instead of saving it. Of course, when you’re finished with your food, you are supposed to throw it away. But, if you have half a steak and vegetables going into the garbage, that is wasting food that could be for another meal or leftovers for the next day.

We are now facing the problem that many never thought would happen – too much food being produced and a possible food shortage in the near future. The pandemic has forced many closures everywhere, including schools, hotels, restaurants, theme parks, and any other places that require loads of produce coming in.

A Nightmare for Farmers

Many places have closed forcing many farmers to have a lot of food dumped in areas because of the pandemic. It’s happening everywhere and has been a nightmare for many farmers. “Dumped milk in Wisconsin. Smashed eggs in Nigeria. Rotting grapes in India. Buried hogs in Minnesota,” told in a recent article by Bloomberg Green.

These are just a few cases of what most farmers are dealing with globally. According to the New York Times, “The nation’s largest dairy cooperative, Dairy Farmers of America, estimates that farmers are dumping as many as 3.7 million gallons of milk each day. A single chicken processor is smashing 750,000 unhatched eggs every week.”

Some farmers are donating food to food banks and Meals on Wheels programs, but that doesn’t pay the bills. Also, you have to consider how much food they can give and how much space these food banks. Now, it’s not that these organizations don’t want the food, but food does expire, and you have to have a place to put everything.

What the Future Holds

Times like these are hard on farmers. Some are falling into debt and can’t pay the bills. In a recent article by Bloomberg Green, one farmer expressed his stress about things that he can’t do at this time due to the pandemic when insufficient food is going out and too little money coming in. He said, “I have told the bank that I can’t repay the loan this time, and I know they will charge me additional interest. It will create problems for me in the future.”

Right now, the question is what is going to happen? We see many places are starting to open back up, but many people are worried that things will just have to shut back down if another wave of COVID-19 hits. Places are opening up, but will things go back to normal, or will we continue to see piles of potatoes stacked high and gallons of milk dumped?

Jori Ayers is a Staff Writer at Grit Daily based in Tampa, Florida. She was formerly with the editorial team at Tampa Bay Parenting Magazine.

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