Dear Next President:
Growing up, I never understood why I had to appreciate having food on the table. I did not see it as a privilege; it was an expectation. I now know that it is quite the opposite. It is a privilege to have food on the table for every meal, not a right. It is imperative for every person to eat three meals per day. In a country where 30% of the population is obese, Americans should not be dying from hunger.
America wastes 40 billion pounds of food per year. By looking at this statistic, one might assume that Americans do not face hunger. Yet, in fact, 1 in 6 Americans suffer from hunger daily. It’s ironic and extremely frustrating that Americans are suffering from hunger while we waste so much food. Americans usually associate hunger with third world countries, with the view that only residents living in third world countries deal with hunger. “Food waste just seems like one of the dumbest problems we have.”
The French Parliament has taken the lead in diminishing food waste in their country's grocery stores. They recently passed a law that makes it illegal for grocery stores to throw away food. They instead have to donate their unsold products to charities and food banks. If these grocery stores fail to comply with the law, they are fined up to $83,500 or personnel might serve two years in prison.
The laws that we have in place now in the U.S. regarding food waste are ineffective compared to this new French law. Acts such as the Bill Emerson and Samaritan Food Act and the U.S. Federal Food Donation Act only encourage food donations. Most people are encouraged by incentives and punishment. The act of simply “doing good” for the community and humanity is not enough for people to donate food; encouragement through law is not enough. We need to reduce our food waste to a nominal amount. We need to feed more mouths. We must leave a legacy full of positive actions that solve this problem.