A Solution to Reduce Food Waste and Combat Hunger
The number of people that are affected by hunger in the United States is staggering. According to the USDA, “food insecurity” is something that is experienced by 12.2 percent of households with children and 20.6 percent without. In a country that has an abundance of food it seems unbelievable that it cannot support the needs of its own population.
In a study conducted in 2014, statistics show that the amount of food wasted is around 31 percent or 133 billion pounds of the 430 billion pounds of available food. This information became the inspiration for an HFC Honors Program project to try and figure out a solution.
The problems surrounding feeding the hungry have been in the forefront and many private and Federal organizations have been working diligently to find a solution. Victoria Peruski, Ahmed Shawhatti, Denis Sinani, and I with the guidance of Dr. Hassan Mohseni Nameghi, started our own quest to combat this problem. What started out as a directed study quickly became a very personal exploration into our own communities as well as the national epidemic surrounding this topic.
The first part of our research included an investigation of the current programs being implemented in our area to address the difficulty of getting food to the tables of the needy.
We visited and volunteered at many organizations including Gleaners Community Food Bank, the Plum Street Urban Farm in the heart of downtown Detroit, and St. Christine Food Pantry and Soup Kitchen.
I spent the majority of my time volunteering at the soup kitchen and found it very disturbing that, in this case, there was an abundance of food but preserving it long enough to reach the people in need was the problem.
Some of the research that my partner in this project, Victoria Peruski conducted surveying waste in restaurants also revealed the same type of problem. We thus decided to focus on developing a way to preserve food that would have been wasted.
We brainstormed ideas and agreed upon a compact, easy to use machine that would enable the user to can food safely and efficiently with low cost and little maintenance.
Our group felt that if we could create an appliance and distribute it to businesses and organizations that were willing to reduce their waste, it could be a successful solution to feeding the hungry but also preserve the energy required to produce the food as well as the impact the many agricultural practices have on the environment.
Currently our group has started working on a prototype and has also registered it for the National Science Foundation competition. We will be able to showcase our machine and explain our intentions hopefully resulting in having an active role in creating a solution to reducing food waste and combating hunger.