Last month I spent the day on one of Table to Table’s trucks as we drove around Bergen County, New Jersey. Starting the day at 7:30 a.m. at the ShopRite in Lodi, my mom and I met up with Carlos, and we made our way through the early morning traffic to many of the county’s ShopRites, Acmes, Paneras, and Trader Joes’. At each of these stops, we went to the back of the stores and collected boxes of whatever food was still good to eat, but about to be thrown out: fruits, vegetables, meats, and packaged goods, and these boxes were stored in the refrigerated back of the truck.
After collecting this food, we stopped at both a home that provides food to 100 families and a shelter for single mothers. Both of these locations distribute food to those in need. At the shelter for single mothers, we were allowed to go inside and meet the lady who started this amazing home in Paterson, New Jersey.
The US Hunger Relief Organization states that 41 million Americans go hungry each year. Just in the state of New Jersey, 1 in 10 people struggle with hunger, and the state would need about $495,839,000 more in order to meet these food needs. That is why it is shocking to learn that about 40% of the food produced in America is thrown away each year, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council.
Grocery stores often throw food away because too much was manufactured or it is getting too close to the sell-by date, even though food is only unsafe to eat past its use-by date. Unfortunately, a lot of food, especially fruits and vegetables, are not bought due to external blemishes, and what cannot be sold is thrown out. That is why Table to Table collects this food from New Jersey grocery stores and chain restaurants and delivers it to local organizations to distribute to the hungry.
My day with Table to Table taught me just how severe the poverty problem in America is. Though there are many different organizations that collect funds to help the hungry in America, Table to Table is collecting and donating perfectly good food manufactured for our grocery stores that would otherwise be thrown out. I feel so lucky to have spent the day with such an amazing organization, and was truly touched by my conversations with both Carlos and with the organizations receiving and distributing the food.