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Food For Thought: Hunger And The Bill Emerson Food Donation Act

1829 words - 8 pages

According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, Americans wasted up to 40 percent of its food in 2012 (Gunders 2012). In comparison, the EPA and USDA jointly filed a document in 1997 that reported 27 percent of American food going to waste-roughly 96 billion pounds of food (Haley 2013). Using the latter ratio, this means that 40 percent of food wasted by Americans translates into 142.2 billion tons of food a year. If the average person eats 1,996 pounds of food a year (Aubrey 2011), this means the amount of food thrown away could have fed nearly 71,142,285 people. While not all of the food may have necessarily been edible, the numbers still lead to the sombering conclusion that Americans waste an excessive amount of food. The irony becomes almost painful with the knowledge that hunger is such a critical issue in the United States. The Bill Emerson Food Donation Act was designed to protect corporations and individuals from civil liability should the groceries they donate inflict harm. However, this protection is on the condition that the groceries are apparently wholesome and the donations are made in good faith. The Bill Emerson Food Donation Act would make a significant impact on hunger in America if the public were more educated about the bill, and pushed businesses to act accordingly.

It is irreconcilable that the United States can waste so much food when so many are going hungry. According to James Haley of the University of Arkansas, hunger in general has become a more serious issue in the past decade, as the national food insecurity rate arcs its way up to 14.7 percent. The USDA, meanwhile, has taken a surveyor’s approach when tackling the hunger issue. In 2006, the USDA introduced new language that moved away from the word “hunger”- a subjective term which would diminish the credibility of the survey because hunger can’t be adequately assessed in a survey. Instead, they used levels of food security. At the top rung is “high food security,” in which no reports exist of lack of access to food. Then, you have food insecurity ranging from marginal instances of food-related anxiety to “reports of multiple indications of disrupted eating patterns and reduced food intake” (Definitions of Food Security 2013). According to Feeding America-the leading domestic hunger relief program in America- 49 million Americans lived with food insecurity; 5.7 million struggled with very low food security. This means that 49 million Americans at least struggled to come by healthy, reliable food, and 5.7 million even underwent disrupted food intake patterns, sometimes going without eating at all for days out of a month. This is a serious issue not only from a humanitarian perspective, but from a productivity perspective as well. In the lives of children, food insecurity results in inattentiveness in school, stunted growth, and missing school; this jeopardizes their education and therefore their future as a productive member of society. Additionally, when...

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