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Can Food Banks Help Save our Planet?

As we celebrate Earth Day, it’s crucial to recognize the environmental heroes who are making a difference. Food banks around the world are playing an unexpected but vital role in protecting our planet. By redirecting potential waste to those in need, food banks, like Second Harvest, contribute to a more sustainable world. Second Harvest is transforming the issue of excess into opportunity. 

Every year, millions of tons of food are discarded, often ending up in landfills where they contribute significantly to greenhouse gas emissions. This Earth Day, we’re focusing on a sobering fact: approximately one-third of all food produced globally is wasted. When food decomposes anaerobically in landfills, it releases methane, a potent greenhouse gas with 25 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide. 

Food banks serve as a critical link between excess food and hunger by rescuing food that would otherwise contribute to environmental degradation. Through robust partnerships with farmers, grocery retailers, and other donors, Second Harvest captures surplus food before it reaches landfills. For example, our Grocery Rescue program saved 11.6 million pounds of food in 2023 alone. That reduces carbon emissions by the equivalent of 8,036,867 miles driven by an average passenger vehicle! 

Second Harvest Food Bank embodies the ethos of Earth Day every day. We not only provide meals to those facing hunger but also prevent significant amounts of safe to eat food from becoming environmental hazards. The work of food banks goes beyond immediate hunger relief. We promote a cycle where waste is minimized, resources are conserved, and the environmental impact of food production is mitigated. By supporting Second Harvest, you are investing in a greener and more resilient planet. 

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