On average, 40% of food in the U.S. is wasted every year, from farms, grocery stores, restaurants, etc. Food recovery programs attempt to collect and redistribute food that is still edible to pantries and community kitchens to simultaneously alleviate food insecurity within a community, while also cutting back on the high cost of waste created by discarding food for superficial reasons.
The Food Recovery Network is an organization started by students at the University of Maryland, College Park, in 2011. Recognizing the large amount of food, prepared for the students at dining halls, that was thrown out after every meal, the first chapter of the Food Recovery Network used the facilities of the university kitchen after hours to package and distribute leftovers to food pantries and kitchens within their city. Since its creation, the Network has spread to 39 states, with 160 participating schools (including VCU!). More than 1 million pounds of food have been salvaged and redirected to feeding the food insecure members of communities surrounding the chaptered universities. Their process is simple, and expedient. Food is packaged in recyclable aluminum trays (the only cost to the organization, since student volunteers run the service, and use their own transportation), and either frozen before being delivered, or delivered within an hour (to maintain safe temperatures) to the community partners who use it to feed their clients.
Feedmore also participates in retail food recovery, which is a larger scale operation involving food donated by grocery chains that are no longer saleable at their locations, but are still edible and safe. The donated foods, both in the case of the Food Recovery Network, and Feedmore, still have a shelf life, but these perishable foods (produce, deli meats, bakery items) are more nutritious and wholesome precisely because they have an expiration date and do not contain preservatives and other life extending, unnatural additives. In order to spread the awareness about food waste, the Food Recovery Network also provides information and education about things like the misinformation and lack of regulation in sell by/expiration labels, and how to use food scraps/ older produce that is still edible in recipes to get the most out of your groceries.