Everybody agrees -- there's plenty of food to end hunger in Portland, in Oregon, in the U.S. Other countries are tough for us to get at, due to political corruption, costs, red tape, lots of good excuses. But in the U.S., we have the food. Why are people still shaking their heads as if this were an insurmountable problem?
I met with two government officials this week. I learned a lot and I felt very encouraged to continue on this path. More results happen when large groups of people get behind an idea than any law or budget line or bureau can ever accomplish. Since the American Revolution, this county has succeeded because we put our hearts and guts and lives on the line for what matters.
Metro (the greater Portland area public services organization) had an app way back almost 20 years ago called Fork It Over. It matched up companies with excess food to donate and charitable organizations working to feed people in need. It worked for a long time, considering all the changes in technology since then.
Washington County is working hard to educate businesses about donating food. So is every city, town, community, and neighborhood. Laws have changed, safe food handling education is in place. We're ready to quit throwing away edible food. But we still hit barriers -- resistant managers, uninformed clerks, hourly employees who just have to do what they're told.
The only way we're going to end commercial food waste is to demand it, every one of us. Dozens of people are already rallying around the food taxi concept and volunteering to drive. Recipient organizations are standing by, ready to put any and all food to good use. We just have to get businesses to make that call.
Government can help, to a certain extent -- they have programs in place and incentives and staff to go out to these companies and remind them what is available, NOW INCLUDING TRANSPORTATION ON DEMAND! They'll make some headway. But it's down to us, people, to convince businesses that throwing away edible food is no longer OK with us.
Please speak to your store manager, your barista, your produce department, your farmer's market staff, your dairy department, your meat guy. Please write a letter or send an email or make a phone call. We have to inundate these decision-makers with our concerns. We have to make it good business to respond to customers' demands and quit wasting food. Together, we can end hunger, not years down the road, but right now!
Won't you please speak up? Thank you for your support. Together, we got this!
Susie Snortum is passionate about improving society's compassion for meeting basic human needs -- food, shelter, clean water, and dignity.