A Stand Against Food Waste

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A Stand Against Food Waste
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A Stand Against Food Waste

Learn more about Kiran Sridhar, the teen who launched Waste No More.

Image Credit: Peter Dazeley/Getty Images

Even at a young age, Sridhar was able to earn respect from the people he was working with. "I have been very lucky that I found some early adopters who were very committed to the cause," he explains. "People have to take me seriously when the model is working and when it is effective."

The experience of launching Waste No More made Sridhar understand the power of today's youth. "This has taught me that you can make a difference," he says. "You have so many tools at your finger tips. It is a lot easier to accomplish things and affect people's lives than it ever has been."

Photo courtesy of Waste No More's Facebook

The organization recently received grants from the Taj Group of Hotels and the Sodexo Foundation and continues to work towards its mission of expanding its work across the nation.

Photo courtesy of Waste No More's Facebook

Now, check out these shocking statistics on food waste that make organizations like Waste No Food so important.

According to the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC), "getting food to our tables eats up 10 percent of the total U.S. energy budget, uses 50 percent of U.S. land, and swallows 80 percent of freshwater consumed in the United States. Yet, 40 percent of food in the United States today goes uneaten."

Image Credit: Peter Dazeley/Getty Images

Food is actually wasted in similar amounts in industrialized and developing countries, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

Image Credit: James Arnold

Some foods are neglected solely due to appearance even when they are fit for consumption (i.e. curved carrots).

Image Credit: STUDIO BOX/Getty Images

Produce is the most widely wasted food group.

Image Credit: Paul Viant/Getty Image

The total value of food loss in the United States in 2008 was roughly $165 billion.

Image Credit: Pascal Bouclier/Getty Images

A 2011 study commissioned by the FAO found that about one-third of food produced in world, or approximately 1.3 billion tonnes, gets lost or wasted.

Image Credit: Pascal Bouclier

According to the NRDC, reducing food waste by 15 percent could save enough food to feed 25 million Americans every year.

Image Credit: Joe Fox

The NRDC reports that each American wastes about 20 pounds of food per year, roughly equivalent to the weight of a car tire or a one-year old toddler.

Image Credit: Martin Leigh

The average American consumer today wastes 50 percent more than Americans in the 1970s.

Image Credit: Edward Shaw

Uneaten food rotting in landfills accounts for nearly 25 percent of U.S. methane emissions, reports NRDC.

Image Credit: Hereld Thiessen

Food is wasted at every step of the food production chain including during harvest and transit.

Image Credit: Thomas J Peterson

Food waste accounts for the largest portion of landfills, more than any other single material in municipal solid waste.

Image Credit: Pascal Preti

A recent survey found that 39 percent of Americans feel guilty about wasting food, trumping green guilt for other things like leaving the lights on or wasting water.

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Kiran Sridhar is not your average 10th grader. When he was just 12 years old, he launched Waste No Food, a non-profit organization that gets leftover food from restaurants, grocery stores and other donors into the hands of the hungry.

As a child, Sridhar volunteered at local charities and was shocked to see the need in his own community. He remembers seeing a line that went all the way across the block packed with people who needed food. "It was filled with people who were very similar to me, but who just, through circumstance, could not guarantee three meals a day," he recalls. Incredibly insightful for his young age, Sridhar explains, "When people can't guarantee that they can eat three meals a day, their whole attention is focused on satisfying their needs. They really can't contribute to their family, to the economy or to society, and they really can't progress."

Touched by this realization and moved by a statistic--one third of all food in California is wasted--Sridhar found the situation to be "inexcusable." He knew he had to help.

Sridhar quickly realized that the biggest challenge standing in the way of getting wasted food to hungry people was logistics. "Waste No Food started with the aim of reducing or eliminating those logistical challenges to allow for food to be donated," explains Sridhar. So, at 12 years old, he did his research. He visited restaurants and charities to learn what their challenges were and how their operations functioned, and finally "created a system which could address those challenges."

Today, the organization boasts 45 food donors, 1,000 volunteers and 20 advisors and has donated approximately 40,000 meals. Now, those childhood memories of lines of people waiting for food have been replaced by thoughts of the children who write to him, thanking him for his work. "I've gotten a couple letters from children that talked about how they are able to focus on school and how they are able to think about going to college or getting some form of higher education," he explains. "That is really inspiring."

The teen credits his background to his success. "What I brought to the table was a fresh perspective," he says. "I was removed from both the food industry and the non-profit industry, so I was in a position where I could step back, really look at the problem and craft an innovative solution."

While Sridhar doesn't yet know which college he wants to attend or what his future career will be, one thing he knows for sure is that he wants to be helping people. "I have ingrained in me the sense that I should give back and make a difference in people's lives."

Check out the slideshow above for more on Sridhar and Waste No More plus shocking statistics on food waste.

Read more from Kitchen Daily:
How Bad is the American Diet?
How Long Can You Freeze Food?
Why Skim Milk May Not Be the Healthier Option

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