Photo Credit: Sustainable Food Waste Symposium, 2012

Food waste is a growing problem both in the United States and across the globe. In North America alone anywhere from 30-40% of perfectly edible food ends up in the trash each year. To put it in perspective that is almost 20 pounds of food per person, per month! While the fact that most ends up in our landfills is bad enough, what's worse is that over 48 million Americans, including 15.3 million kids, live in households that do not have sufficient food! Now, concerned citizens are trying to raise awareness of the issue with some innovative ideas.

In New York's Westchester County, students at 18 schools participate in a program called We Future Cycle. Started by Anna Giordano and Ashley Welde in 2014, it teaches kids to recycle, compost, and most importantly curb food waste in an easy and efficient manner.

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Lunch areas at the participating schools are equipped with three clearly marked bins - compost, recycle and share. While the first two are self-explanatory and common in schools, the third is rare. This is the bin where kids can toss their unwanted drinks, fruits, and even untouched sandwiches. Items in the container are available for any student that wants them. Whatever remains at the end of the day is donated to the local soup kitchen or food bank. Giordano says the three bins have helped reduce the number of trash bags generated at the mid-day meal from an average of 22 to just 2!

To ensure kids adopt similar habits at home the non-profit has created extensive curriculum to educate families about the importance of sorting waste into the proper streams of recycling, composting, trash and food to donate They also urge parents to have open conversations with their kids about food choices and what they will or will not eat at school.

Photo Credit: Salvage Supper Club

But, as we are all aware, kids are not the only ones that waste food - Adults are equally bad, if not worse! To combat that, Brooklyn-based Josh Treuhaft founded Salvage Supperclub in 2014. The sporadically organized dinners promise patrons a scrumptious multi-course meal for a mere $50 USD per person. Though that may not sound like much of a plan to save waste, it is, because the delicious food is made from perfectly edible and safe ingredients that are past their prime and, therefore, headed for the compost or trash bin.

The other catch? Customers have to eat their gourmet meals inside a dumpster! The venue, of course, is totally clean and hygienic. It is just a symbolic gesture to demonstrate the enormous amount of food people thoughtlessly trash on a regular basis.

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Treuhaft who recently made his West Coast debut with a dumpster dining night in Berkeley, CA, says every meal salvages almost 2 pounds of food (per person) that otherwise would have ended up in the trash. In addition to helping people rethink their actions, one dumpster meal at a time, Treuhaft also helps them do good by donating a portion of the proceeds to non-profits dedicated to combating food waste. It is no wonder that hundreds of people are clamoring to dine at the his dumpster supper clubs.