More than 700 pounds of chicken, donated vegetables and pasta went into cooking a free meal to feed 5,000 people in front of the State Capitol. It was for Feeding the 5000, a global campaign to raise awareness about food waste and hunger.
“Everything we made today was from reclaimed food,” Jennifer Costello, a chef at The Bonneville, said. Costello and her husband, Chris Hurley, helped cook the meal over several days.
“It’s kind of heartbreaking to see a lot of food that doesn’t get used because it may not be someone’s preference that could be turned into something else,” Hurley said.
The groups involved in organizing the event include Austin Resource Recovery, Central Texas Food Bank, Feedback, Keep Austin Fed and New Leaders Council – Austin. According to the USDA, people across the country throw away an average of $1 billion worth of food in a year. In the last three years, data shows 1.5 million families in Texas didn’t know where their last meal would come from.
“It’s just something that is a hard battle to fight,” Paula Camacho said. Camacho brought her 7-year-old son to the event to show him the message about preserving food and helping others facing hunger.
Gena McKinley, who is on the board of directors for New Leaders Council-Austin, said there are several ways families can prevent food waste and help the community from right at home.
“If you have items that are starting to look a little old or are about to expire, move those to an ‘eat me first’ bin so they’re top of mind, so your family knows when you’re going into the fridge — reach for those first,” McKinley said.
She also said there are several things people can do when grocery shopping as well.
“Instead of looking for the perfect apple, I look for the apple that might be a little bit bruised or have a little bit of scarring, because those are the apples that usually don’t get bought,” McKinley said. “Those are oftentimes wasted or composted and they’re perfectly edible and could feed hungry people in our community.”
According to Austin Resource Recovery, some ways to help curb food waste include donating leftovers to organizations that feed people and animals and reusing leftover products.