HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WMBF) - Officials with the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control said food is the No. 1 item Americans throw away.
Now, with their campaign Don’t Waste Food SC, they hope to reduce food waste through prevention, donation and composting. One of the main goals is to cut food waste in half in South Carolina by 2030.
According to information from DHEC, 40% of the food supply in the U.S. is never consumed, representing an annual loss of $218 billion, while more than 41 million Americans are food insecure.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture defines food insecurity as a lack of access to adequate food.
Amanda Edwards said when DHEC started the campaign, there were about 800,000 South Carolinians who were considered food insecure. Now, that number is down to about 700,000.
Households are responsible for about 43% of all food waste in the U.S. There are some guidelines to help households reduce that waste:
- Plan your meals: Checking what you have at home first
- Shop smart: Making a list and using it
- Donate non-perishable items
Some organizations across the Grand Strand work every day to prepare meals and give food to those who need it. For Meals on Wheels, the business community has helped them tremendously.
In August of last year, Meals on Wheels was struggling. Director Michael Tyler said with a lot of prayer and help from businesses, they were able to overcome it. He noted that they were down to about six cases of water and Pepsi came in, providing them with 150 cases.
Tyler said the organization gives around 100 hot meals a day to those who need it most, such as the elderly, those who are home-bound, and those who can’t make meals for themselves.
While financial needs aren’t necessarily their target, those at Meals on Wheels help in other ways too.
“We sort through everything, so I go through every can and my volunteers go through every can, so we’ll use what we can," Tyler said. "If not, if it’s too close to the date, then what we do is we will make goody bags and take them out to the homeless on the street or we have a lot of volunteers who are involved with homeless outreach outside of here. So there is an outlet for things that we can’t use in the kitchen.”