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PNS Daily Newscast - September 23, 2020 


U.S. COVID-19 deaths double in last 4 months as total tops 200,000; poll workers in short supply as Texas registers a record number of voters.


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Mitt Romney supports putting a Supreme Court nominee to a vote. Plus, $20 million raised so far to pay court fees, fines for returning citizens to vote after being incarcerated.

Report: Pandemic Disrupts Food Supply, Increases Waste

Food pantries have had to figure out new ways to acquire and store food as donations from grocery stores have gone down but excess produce meant for restaurants has increased. (Share our Selves)
Food pantries have had to figure out new ways to acquire and store food as donations from grocery stores have gone down but excess produce meant for restaurants has increased. (Share our Selves)
July 28, 2020

BOSTON -- Even before the pandemic, Americans wasted about 40% of the food we produced, worth an estimated $218 billion each year.

Now a report from the nonprofit ReFED shows the pandemic has worsened the problem of food waste, but may also lead to a smarter, more nimble food supply.

The COVID-19 U.S. Food System Review found farms were devastated when demand from restaurants, cruise ships and airlines evaporated overnight.

Jackie Suggitt, ReFED stakeholder engagement director, said thousands of tons of excess food had to be destroyed.

"The inconsistencies in that supply and demand drive a lot of uncertainty in decision-making, and uncertainty almost always leads to waste," Suggitt said.

The report also noted big shifts in where people get their food, with demand skyrocketing for food pantries, grocery stores and boxed meal kits. Also, in an effort to go out less often, many consumers began hoarding food, buying more than they could eat right away, which led to more food going to waste.

The report also finds when food labels say "best by" a certain date, it can encourage waste because people think food has spoiled when it's still perfectly edible just a few days past peak freshness.

Suggitt said standardized labels that emphasize food quality as opposed to food safety could promote less waste.

"For example, if my cereal box or my yogurt was three days past, 'old me' would have thrown that away. As I become educated about the issue, I now know I can do things like smell my yogurt and taste my cereal, and if it tastes OK, I can consume that," Suggitt said.

Suggitt added disruptions in the food chain caused by the pandemic have made people place more value on locally sourced food. And it has encouraged farms and distributors to innovate new best practices for sales channels, inventory controls and packaging. More information is online at covid.refed.com.


Suzanne Potter, Public News Service - MA