Words by Smiley Team
The US is the richest country in the world and yet people go without food every day. The USDA estimates that over 19 million people in the US live in a food desert, meaning that those people lack consistent access to vital foods and nutrients.
They also estimate that nearly 40 percent of the food produced for consumption in the US is thrown away and wasted. One organization is trying to solve both issues at once.
California-based advocacy group Vegan Outreach, and their partner Food Forward, have been working to aggregate much of the food that would otherwise go to waste and ship it to places that need it most. One such place is Tahlequah, Oklahoma.
Tahlequah is home to the largest number of native Cherokee speakers in the country. The area is a food desert and fresh produce, especially free, was incredibly hard to find. Then Vegan Outreach started offering food.
“Food Forward helped us get nutritious, fresh whole foods to these communities that would rarely be able to access it to begin with,” says Yuri Mitzkewich, the Vegan Outreach program leader who reached out to Tahlequah. “They’d be priced out of it, even if they were able to get some.”
Vegan Outreach’s partner Food Forward helps bring together the shipping utilities and food sourced from the whole of southern California, the region that receives and ships the most food in the U.S.
Since its founding in 2009, Food Forward has rerouted 250 million pounds, or 1 billion servings, of fresh produce, recovered and donated to food insecure communities.
“We’re all kind of under this umbrella, feeling like the last 10 years for Food Forward were a dress rehearsal for the pandemic,” says CEO Rick Nahmias. “[Now], we’ve got kind of an internal feeling of growing into the suit of clothes that we needed to put on for the pandemic.”
DONATE: If you want to help support Food Forward and its mission consider donating.
SUPPORT: Try and only use the food you need. As said earlier, much of the food in the US goes to waste when much of that could help feed people in need.