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New Program Aims To Reduce Wasted Food

Fresh produce at Merciful Help Center pantry in Carmel.

An estimated 30-40 percent of America’s food supply ends up in landfills. A new effort aims to redirect some of that food for hungry people in Indiana.

Gleaner’s Food Bank of Indiana is one of 46 food banks around the country that are participating in a new program to link food donors directly with food banks. MealConnect is a website developed by Feeding America to help facilitate those donations.

Gleaner’s marketing director Sarah Estell says finding and connecting with food is ongoing.

“Donations come in for food and money and we purchase food,” says Estell. “But nationally there is over 70 billion – billion with a ‘b’ – pounds of food that goes to waste each year.”

Estell says the website is especially helpful for local farmers, smaller markets, manufacturers or restaurants to donate any food they can’t use.

“Things go to waste, things happen with product packing in the manufacturing process, it doesn’t mean that the food isn’t good and isn’t useable,” says Estell.

Gleaners, which serves 21 counties in Indiana, will also use MealConnect to help reduce the waste of prepared donations that they cannot accept at the food bank.

The number of hungry Hoosiers continues to grow despite a national trend downward. About 15 percent of people in Indiana are dealing with food insecurity.

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