Oxfam reports that almost a billion people do not have enough food to eat every day. That’s a heck of a lot people considering we produce around 20% more food than the current population needs.
Making our food distribution systems better is no longer a suggestion, it’s a necessity. Some countries are already blazing ahead to reduce food waste and get food to those whom need it the most. Take Italy for example: earlier in August the nation introduced new laws to cut food waste by 1 million tons per year. The laws removed red-tape and blocks that made it hard (or even illegal) for places such as supermarkets and farms to donate food. Donating food past its expiry date and allowing businesses to record their donations and the end of the month, rather than five days before, has been approved by parliament. Not only that, but the government also introduced a line of incentives to retailers and consumers to prevent food waste; ‘doggie-bags’ are being rebranded as ‘family-bags’ and one million euros will be set aside for research into packaging that prevents spoilage during transit and that preserves food for longer. Italian ministers estimated that food waste around the country costs Italian businesses and households $13.3 billion a year.
This comes months after France became the first country in the world to ban supermarket food waste. French law requires supermarkets to donate unsold food to charities and foodbanks. It also prevents supermarkets from deliberately spoiling food before throwing it out (typically by dousing the food in bleach or locking it up). Banques Alimentaires, a network of French food banks, stated that even a 15% increase in food donations from supermarkets would mean 10 million more meals handed out each year when the law passed in January.
The potential for food banks and charities to feed people is great—as long as they are getting the food. French and Italy’s laws stand as a model for what really should be the norm around the world.