The (Com)Post: Food Rescue with Hungry Harvest

Produce delivery services prevent food waste and help close the food insecurity gap

Campus Life Editor Abbie Veitch shows off her weekly groceries in this week's (Com)Post video. Filmed and edited by Phoebe Jessup.

Climate change is a big and looming issue, but it doesn’t have to be so intimidating. The (Com)Post is The Eagle’s sustainability series that breaks down topics in eco-friendly living in a fresh, actionable and fun way.

What is Food Rescue?

Food rescuing is saving produce or other foods from farms, grocers or restaurants that would otherwise go to waste. This has become a rising trend in the United States because about 30 to 40 percent of food in America goes to waste. Additionally, about 1 in 7 homes in D.C. are considered food insecure and about 11 percent of D.C.’s total area is in a “food desert,” or an area with little access to healthy food options.

There is also a high demand for aesthetically pleasing produce and food in the United States. Many farms do not harvest produce that does not meet certain requirements, even if that product is still completely edible. Additionally, when farms produce a surplus of crops, the market cannot handle the excess and the produce ends up going to waste. Produce rescue companies help farms make a profit off of produce that would have otherwise had no financial value.

Why Hungry Harvest?

Hungry Harvest is a produce rescue and delivery service that started in D.C. and Maryland to deliver “ugly” or otherwise “damaged” produce to the customer's door at a discounted price. This service allows users to customize boxes and subscriptions and even add on other grocery items. Hungry Harvest gets the majority of its produce from local farms, many of which are organic. 

So What's the Downside? 

Some critics of produce rescue programs say that the monetization of these products reduces the amount of food that may have been given to shelters or those in need. Additionally, many feel that the delivery services compete with local community supported agriculture programs (CSA). CSAs are programs where community members pre-pay for a share in a local farm. However, CSAs are often times expensive and inaccessible to low-income communities. 

Hungry Harvest in particular works to fight hunger by donating excess produce to “hunger-solving” organizations, such as The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). SNAP provides low-income households with an ATM card that can be used to purchase nutritious food. Produce delivery services like Hungry Harvest close the food insecurity gap by offering discounted fruits and vegetables right to people’s homes.

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