Food is one of the basic needs of human beings. However, Anca, Fărcaş, Socaci, and Diaconeasa (2019) found an alarming increase in the amount of wasted food. The authors noted that 42% of the food waste came from households and 14% from catering and restaurant services. The study by Schanes, Doberniga, and Gözeta (2018) revealed that global food waste amounts to 1.3 billion tons ever year. Ishangulyyev, Kim, and San Lee (2019) also added that the annual cost of lost and wasted food is around $936 billion, globally. Surprisingly, the rise in food waste happens at a time when the world is facing food insecurity. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) report of July 2019, about 820 million individuals lacked adequate food in 2018. Although food wastage is a global issue, it can be controlled if every local community takes proper action.

Part 1: Description of the Problem/Need

Restaurants, hotels, families, and individual consumers continue to waste significant food proportions in the local area. At the same time, soup kitchens, homeless shelters, and food banks hardly have enough food for the needy people they take care of. Kennard (2019) defines food waste as a food whose quality is safe for consumption but is, however, thrown away. Discarding of food is done at the retail point or by consumers. Therefore, food waste is the result of consumer behavior and retail functions. Significant food waste has adverse consequences on society.

One, the process of producing food is resource-intensive. Farmers and businesses (hotels, restaurants, supermarkets, etc.) invest heavily in food production and processing. Consumers also incur costs when buying and transporting the food to the desired destinations. Whenever food is wasted, therefore, these units lose money. Ishangulyyev et al. (2019) indicated that the average annual amount of money U.S. families spent on unconsumed food was $1410. This proves that financial losses result from wasting food.

Two, food wastes have environmental implications. Wastes from fruits, vegetables, meat, and milk products emit Carbon dioxide. According to Schanes et al (2018), the average global warming potential of preventable household food waste per week was approximately 23.3Kg of Carbon dioxide. On an annual basis, the preventable household food waste (1.2 tons CO2) equals a quarter of what a car produces per year. CO2 is a dangerous gas that causes respiratory diseases. The foul smell from rotting food also pollutes the air.

Three, food insecurity results from the discarding of edible food products. In cases where producers correctly estimate the amount of food that adequately feeds a community, any wasted proportions would result in food insecurity. The 2018 Global Hunger Relief Statistics revealed that up to 15.8 million U.S. households faced food insecurity (Ishangulyyev et al., 2019). Surprisingly, only a 15% reduction in overall food loss and waste was required to feed these households. Food management practices capable of minimizing wastage by 50% could enable feeding of around a billion individuals.

Causes of Food Wastage in the Local Area

Food wastes increase due to the continuous disposal of unconsumed food products. Therefore, factors responsible for wasting food are those which lead to the build-up of unconsumed items. These causes include shopping, cooking, and eating habits of individuals.

Shopping Habits

Schanes et al. (2018) observed that people tend to purchase more than what is needed. One of the factors that promote excessive buying is identification with the best brands in the market. For instance, parents often wish to serve family members with abundant food that is deemed healthy and nutritious. However, the plentiful purchase does not increase consumption potential. Instead, it leads to the stocking of a lot of perishable food and increased risk of wastage. Differences in tastes also encourage the purchase of extra food, as the host intends to meet the various preferences. Retailers also supply variety to enable consumers to get what they prefer. When consumers fail to buy or consume a given food category, it is likely to be wasted. Again, stockpiling food during some occasions appears convenient. Unfortunately, this behavior may lead to the purchase of more food than can be consumed within the available time. This increases the chances of food expiring or getting spoiled. It also happens when personal schedules change and individuals lack the time to use the perishable ingredients already bought. Sales practices such as promotions and discounts, which encourage bulk purchases, also increase chances of wastage.

Cooking Practices

If the cook does not measure the amount of food to prepare, there will be abundant leftovers to be thrown away. These mistakes may be contributed by poor cooking skills in the area of portion control and precision (Schanes et al., 2018). It can happen both at home and in restaurants or hotels. In households, there are times when the parents cook food for the children only to find out later that they ate at school or party. Such incidents also lead to piling of leftovers and unconsumed food. Households also increase the amount of serving through use of larger plates. In most cases, the extra servings are never consumed.

Eating Habits

The first area where food wastage abounds is households with children. Unpredictable patterns of eating and changes in food preferences among children increase food wastes in homes. The next category of people that waste food in large quantities is those that buy and eat food in hotels and restaurants. Schanes et al. (2018) reported that this group of individuals does not feel guilty even after wasting a lot of food. Going to restaurants is regarded as a time-saving strategy but it is costly and wastes food. Also, unpredictable eating habits happen with invitations to unexpected dinner or parties. A lot of uneaten food remains and is wasted in most cases.

Significance of Solving Food Wastage in the Area

Addressing food wastage will solve economic, environmental, and social problems in the local community. The economic challenges related to financial losses that consumers incur when the food they purchased goes to waste (Ishangulyyev et al., 2019). Local hotels, restaurants, supermarkets, families, and individuals can save money generated from avoidable food waste. Savings can be used to satisfy other basic needs at an individual level. The retailers may also use the saved funds to expand the business. All these initiatives will result in economic growth and development.

Without food wastes, the local community will have a clean environment. Schanes et al. (2018) stated that food wastes release a significant amount of carbon dioxide into the air. CO2 reduces air quality by displacing oxygen. When people inhale the polluted air, they are likely to develop health complications. This, therefore, means that absence of this gas in the air will result in improved health. In the absence of CO2, which is a greenhouse gas, the area will be free from extreme weather conditions and disruptions in the supply of food. Lastly, food waste management will improve food security. The number of undernourished households reduces with a decrease in food wastage (Ishangulyyev et al., 2019). Therefore, a more food secure community will be established.

Part 2: Recommended Solutions

The required solution is food waste prevention and reduction. There are several strategies that local retailers, households, and individuals can use to control the amount of wasted food.

1. Redistribution

The redistribution process enables the channeling of unwanted food to individuals that need it (Kennard, 2019). For the successful execution of this process, an app linking local markets, hotels, and restaurants to the local Feeding America (food banks, kitchen soup, meal programs, etc.), Children Nutrition and Women and Infant Children (WIC) programs. Any retail business or household with excess food will post on the app to find an appropriate destination for the food donations.

2. Composting

Any food waste that goes bad before redistribution can be used to make compost manure. The practice decreases landfills that contribute to climate change and global warming. Again, as Schanes et al. (2018) discussed, discarding rotten food or composting it eliminates guilt that comes with food wastage. Use of compost manure in local farms will as well minimizes use of commercial fertilizers which contain harmful chemicals.

3. Reuse Leftovers

Leftover food in local households or restaurants can still be used to make edible products. For example, uneaten pizza can be transformed into croutons. Similarly, rice leftovers may be used to make rice pudding. Schanes et al. (2018) reported that households that consume leftovers usually throw away less food. Furthermore, Anca et al. (2019) recommend a change in the negative perception of leftovers. The authors argue that only attitude change would make households and the food service sector to treat leftovers as byproducts and join the community in food waste management.

4. Accurate Forecasting

Local restaurants should employ software for collecting food waste data to reduce food waste. This will also ensure that they accurately forecast consumer demand to avoid overbuying inventory (Schanes et al., 2018). Households should also work with weighing machines to avoid using excess ingredients or cooking more food than families require.

5. Offer Training

Local hotels, restaurants, and supermarkets that cook food should equip their cooks with techniques for maximizing yields from foodstuff. Precision in use of ingredients is particularly important in determining the size of the food to be cooked (Schanes et al., 2018). The training should also cover techniques for using leftovers as byproducts. Ishangulyyev et al. (2019) also argued that dietary education is crucial in preventing accumulation of food waste.

6. Conduct Awareness Campaigns

 As explained by Kennard (2019), consumer awareness campaigns are important in making people understand consequences of food wastage. The campaigns could involve identification of places where consumers waste food and the type of food that is mostly wasted. Even more, campaigns may help to inform local food service sector operators, households, Feeding America’s meal programs, Children Nutrition and WIC programs about the app that can enable them supply or receive food donations. Habits and dietary changes that limit food wastage should as well be communicated during the awareness campaigns.

Part 3: Feasibility Analysis of the Solution

To determine the feasibility of strategies meant to prevent and reduce food waste, this section examines the economic, technical, operational, scheduling, and legal implications.

Technical Factors

The target audience includes local community groups, food service sector, households, and individuals. An app will be developed to enable food donations from local households and restaurants/catering services reach local (Feeding America) food banks, kitchen soup, WIC and Children Nutrition Programs. Feeding America also has local projects such as School Pantry and BackPack Programs. School Pantry Program allows parents collect food from their children’s schools while BackPack provides children with food for weekends. Children Nutrition Programs also avail free nutritious meals and snacks to the children when they are not in school. On the other hand, WIC offers food assistance to low-income expectant mothers.  

Economical Features

There are no huge costs associated with the implementation of these food management strategies. However, some small costs will be incurred when creating the app, transporting food to be redistributed, organizing campaigns, and offering training on food waste prevention. Even then, the outcome will be worth the expenses because food waste management will minimize the associated local financial losses (Ishangulyyev et al., 2019). Prevention of food waste will also improve local food security leading to a decline in government spending towards hunger mitigation. Further expenses on healthcare will also decrease when the amount of food-based carbon dioxide drops.

Legal Factors

This food waste management project supports the number two Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). The goal promotes food security and prevention of world hunger by the year 2030 (Usubiaga, Butnar, & Schepelmann, 2018). Avoiding food wastage should enable full-time access to adequate and nutritious food for healthy living. The project also has a direct connection with the twelfth SDG section three. The Goal aims for a 50% decline in per capita food waste at the retail and consumer points, globally, by the year 2030 (Ishangulyyev et al., 2019).

Operational Aspects

The primary objective of the food waste prevention programs is to avoid disposal of edible food and use unwanted food to feed groups/individuals in need. Anca et al. (2019) argued that food wastage is inevitable. The best way to make proper use of leftovers and oversupplied food products is thus to redistribute, recycle, reuse, and dispose of appropriately. The project’s activities will benefit both local redistributors and recipients of donated food.

Scheduling

The project practices such as app development, food awareness campaigns, and food waste management training can all happen in a month. The project’s impacts can be assessed soon after the implementation.

Conclusion

Food waste greatly contributes to the rise of global hunger levels. It also leads to significant financial losses when retailers, households and individual consumers throw away unconsumed products and leftovers. Food wastage is thus a significant problem that requires an urgent solution. The solution lies with individuals, households, and retailers. If each of these units takes appropriate steps, local communities will succeed in reducing food waste and ending hunger.