Orange County food bank, grocery stores take on hunger crisis by tackling food waste

Local supermarkets are taking on the hunger crisis by tackling rampant food waste.

Stores are donating fresh food that didn't sell to a grocery rescue program run by Second Harvest Food Bank of Orange County.

Whether it's bananas, chicken or sweets, Ralphs grocery stores say about 40% of food across the country goes to waste. That's where the Second Harvest Food Bank steps in.

"Some of our most needed items are dairy, meat and produce," said Jason Hatcher of Second Harvest Food Bank. "And so we're giving grocery stores like Ralphs a safe and efficient way to donate those perishable items that are most needed."

Second Harvest Food Bank says 10% of Orange County residents are at risk of hunger, including 1 in 6 children.

Second Harvest redistributed 15 million pounds of food in 2018 that would have otherwise been tossed in a landfill.

"What we do is we pick them in our vehicles, and we either directly deliver to our network of community partners throughout the whole county, or we bring it back to our distribution center, where we distribute the food within 24 to 48 hours," Hatcher said.

Ralphs grocery stores are a big supporter of Second Harvest Food Bank, donating five million pounds of food in 2018 for their Zero Waste Zero Hunger initiative.

"Every day in the United States, 40% of the food goes to waste, while 1 in 8 people struggle with hunger," said John Votava, Director of Corporate Affairs at Ralphs. "That's why we started the Zero Hunger Zero Waste social impact plan. We're working to end hunger in our communities and eliminate waste within our company by the year 2025."

Between Ralphs and Second Harvest Food Bank, the food is repackaged and distributed to communities that need it the most.

"With partners like Ralphs, we're able to gain access to a lot of this fresh healthy food," Hatcher said. "And it really is a true partnership with Ralphs because it's the Zero Hunger Zero Waste initiative. So, in grocery stores, we're trying to make sure that no food has to go to waste so that no one has to go hungry in Orange County."
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