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Restaurant recycling

(article, Savannah Naffziger)

Rising food costs are affecting everyone these days, leading to increases in backyard gardening and home-brewed coffee.  

What’s decreasing, however, is the amount of food and money that’s being donated to the hungry. Back in April, Jonathan Bloom over at Wasted Food wrote about how food banks are being hit by a double whammy: fewer donations due to the tight economy, and pricier transportation for the donations that do come in due to high fuel costs. Costlier food, too, means fewer families can afford to feed themselves.

Enter the gleaners. We've written about them before, but "food rescue" initiatives are being newly emphasized these days. New websites and updated resources are making it easier than ever for individuals to support these programs and for the rescued food to get to the people who need it.

Seattle overhauled its restaurant-based food-recovery system in February, with the unveiling of the Seattle Food Recovery Initiative and its Seattle Hunger Map, which aims to put the people who want to donate food in better touch with the organizations who want to receive it.

Other programs, such as New York City’s City Harvest, have more elaborate websites with information on donating and volunteering. Portland’s Fork It Over program even has a list of donors, so people can choose to dine at restaurants that donate.

Want to find out about gleaning initiatives in your hometown? Check out the Society of St. Andrew’s map of gleaning operations or the USDA list of gleaning initiatives.