Acquired Waste

Feeding the 5000 NYC, a food-waste feast, is taking over Union Square today

Thousands of New Yorkers will get a special free meal today, thanks to Feeding the 5000 NYC, a massive feast made entirely from food waste going down at Union Square. The event, the first of its kind in NYC and part of a larger event series across the country, isn't doling out food only for attendees, but making an additional 5,000 meals for City Harvest to deliver around town. Additionally, the event is hosting a series of lectures and demonstrations on ways to fight food waste.

The U.S. alone tosses 40 percent of the food it produces, says Chris Hunt of GRACE Communications Foundation, which is sponsoring the event with the NRDC, City Harvest, the Mayor's Office of Sustainability and the James Beard Foundation, to name a few.

Now a hot-button issue across the world, food waste is finally getting the attention it deserves, thanks in no small part to advocacy efforts and events like Feeding the 5000.

Restaurant chefs—there will be many showing their support and giving talks at today's feast—have been an integral part of the movement. Dan Barber, one of the most vocal chefs on the issue, will be there today, along with other chefs from his restaurant Blue Hill, as well as Evan Hanczor of Egg and Liz Neumark of Great Performances, which developed the event's menu.

"There's been tremendous support from the chef community," Hunt says. "Chefs in particular are aware of how valuable food is."

Chef or not, "everyone across the board understands that this is a problem and that we have to do something about it," Hunt says. That means there's great opportunity across the supply chain, from farmer to distributor to consumer. When a family of four could save up to $1,500 a year if they wasted less food, it's "really not a hard sell," Hunt points out. Indeed, according to a recent report by ReFED, reducing food waste by 20 percent over the next 10 years could save $100 billion in the U.S. alone, to say nothing of the new jobs that would be generated in the effort.

If you can't make it to the event today and want to learn more about fighting food waste, Hunt suggests starting small in your own home. Be more mindful when you shop, learn proper storage techniques, understand date labels and simply remember all the food you buy, he says. Check out Save the Food for more pointers and see below for a sample of dishes served at today's feast.

 

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