The term “food waste” is used to describe any food that is produced but isn’t consumed, which has an economic, social and environmental impact.
“Food that gets wasted and doesn’t get consumed, it’s a huge problem in United States today,” said Glenn Bucello, district manager at Chartwells, the dining service provider for Buffalo State.
Bucello and Kristen Helling, assistant director of Student Life at Buffalo State, appeared on the Buffalo Review to discuss food waste and ways to reduce it.
Buffalo State Dining observed Stop Food Waste Day April 28 to share zero-waste recipes and other information to combat the problem.
“The irony of it is, we are in a major food insecurity issue within the United States, but we are in a huge mist of a crisis on food waste on our campuses, in our homes, and in our businesses. So it really comes full circle with food waste and what’s produced and not consumed,” said Helling.
Bucello said there are three major factors that contribute to food waste, including expired products, overproduction and prep waste.
He said expiration dates can also play a role, as 90 percent of food is thrown away before it actually spoils or goes bad.
“Part of the contributing factors to wasted food when you look at expiration dates is: has it been stored properly, has it been exposed to time and temperature abuse,” said Bucello.
“Too often a consumer thinks that after a couple of days, the product isn’t good anymore and they’ll just toss it or they don’t plan to use those left over foods in their recipes.”
Fruits and vegetables tend to be some of the most wasted items since they have a shorter shelf-life than processed foods, according to Bucello.
Helling said one of the easiest ways to prevent food waste is to avoid purchasing more food than will be needed for the week.
She said if a person has excess food they are not going to use before the expiration date, they should redistribute it to a friend or donate it to a food pantry.
Additionally, canning or freezing fruits and vegetables are great ways to preserve produce.
Bucelllo and Helling said there are many ways to decrease food waste and it all starts with education and planning to create more conscientious consumers.
* Tiara Mitchell, Marche Black and Makera Fuller contributed to this report.