Why are they needed?

According to the United States Department of Agriculture's (USDA) 2004 Household Food Security Report, nearly 650,000 Missourians experience food insecurity – approximately a third of them also experience hunger. This means that their access to enough food is limited by a lack of money and other resources.

A 1997 study by the Midwest Assistance Program funded by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, Solid Waste Management Program http://www.dnr.mo.gov/env/swmp/index.html, found that food accounted for 18.7% or over 1,033,000 tons of waste disposed in Missouri landfills. http://www.dnr.mo.gov/pubs/pub2072.pdf

A study by the Community Childhood Hunger Identification Project reports that most low-income families must receive food assistance from several sources, relying on Federal food assistance programs as well as emergency food programs. Even with Federal assistance and the work of charities and nonprofit organizations, nearly 20 percent of the requests for emergency food assistance go unmet.

In a study by the USDA for the period ending December 2002, it was reported that 34.9 million people in U.S. households were food insecure, with 13.1 million of them being children. The data showed that 11.1 percent of U.S. households reported that at some time during the year they were uncertain of having, or were unable to acquire, adequate food to meet their basic needs. Of these, about 3.8 million households were food insecure to the extent that one or more household members went hungry at least some time during the year.

Yet, it is estimated that approximately one-fourth of America's food goes to waste each year, with an estimated 96 billion pounds of food ending up in landfills. Millions of people could have benefited from those lost resources.

What is food recovery?

The four most common methods of food recovery are:

  • Field Gleaning - The collection of crops from farmers' fields that have already been mechanically harvested or on fields where it is not economically profitable to harvest.
  • Perishable Food Rescue or Salvage – The collection of perishable produce from wholesale and retail sources.
  • Food Rescue - The collection of prepared foods from the food service industry.
  • Nonperishable Food Collection - The collection of processed foods with long shelf lives.

Services available - Food Banks, Food Pantries and Soup Kitchens

  • Food Banks provide food to other organizations like food pantries, soup kitchens, hunger relief centers, or other food or feeding centers. Usually, food banks do not distribute food directly to individuals.
  • Food Pantries distribute food to low-income and unemployed households to take home.
  • Soup Kitchens provide meals to the needy and the homeless on a regular basis.

In addition to perishable and non-perishable commercial foods donated by retailers, manufacturers, food service establishments, etc., many of the agencies listed in this booklet distribute USDA commodities made available through the Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP). Under TEFAP, commodity foods are distributed to organizations (i.e., soup kitchens) in the state that use them in congregate feeding facilities for the needy, including the homeless, and to organizations (i.e., food pantries) that provide them to eligible households for home consumption.

To be eligible to take commodities home, households must meet established income requirements or participate in another government program such as Food Stamps, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Supplemental Security Income (SSI); Medicaid, or reside in public housing. There are many worthwhile organizations, not included in this booklet, that provide food assistance directly to the needy. Contact the local food bank to find the location of a food pantry or soup kitchen in your area. To obtain contact information go to the Second Harvest website and enter your Zip Code where it says "Find your local food bank or food rescue organization."

How you can help

The operation of a goodfood recovery program is three-fold:

  • Locate unsold or unmerchantable food and fresh produce.
  • Coordinate its transportation and storage.
  • Distribute it to the needy.

There are various ways to get involved in the fight against hunger and demonstrate commitment to the community.

Food Service Professionals

  • Organize a food drive and donate food to a local food bank or pantry.
  • Donate excess prepared food from restaurants, school cafeterias or catered events.
  • Assist organizations in training their volunteers in safe food-handling practices.

Nonprofit Organizations

  • Work independently or with existing organizations to assist ongoing food recovery efforts.
  • Support or develop a community or regional coalition against hunger.
  • Develop a community financial fund to fight hunger.
  • Plan tours of food recovery facilities or arrange for knowledgeable speakers to increase community awareness of hunger and poverty problems, and what people are doing to address them.

Youth Service Groups and Volunteer Organizations

  • Work on their own or with existing organizations to assist on-going food recovery efforts.
  • Organize essay, oratorical or art contests for school children to focus on a child's view of hunger and its consequences.
  • Sponsor a community garden that gives a portion of the harvest to food banks, soup kitchens, and other food recovery programs.
  • Supply gardening tools and harvesting equipment for local gardening and gleaning efforts.

Individual Citizens

  • Volunteer at the food recovery program closest to you.
  • Attend food safety training sessions so you are better prepared to volunteer in a soup kitchen or shelter.
  • Suggest that organizations you belong to or businesses you work for sponsor food recovery programs.
  • Join or form a community walk/run to benefit a food recovery program.

Businesses and Corporations

  • Encourage, recognize, and reward employees and other individuals for volunteer service to the community. Increase employee awareness of local hunger and provide training to make employees more useful volunteers.
  • Sponsor radio and television air time for community organizations that address hunger.
  • Donate excess prepared and processed food from the employee cafeteria or from special events to local food recovery programs.
  • Donate transportation, maintenance work, or computer service.
  • Prepare legal information on donor considerations such as “Good Samaritan” laws and food safety and quality.