I grew up in kitchens. From hanging on my mother’s hip in a restaurant kitchen to sharing sardine sandwiches with Grandpa Emmanuel in our home kitchen, respect and handling of food has been central to my life. My mom and my Grandpa Emmanuel are my greatest heroes for this reason, then and now. Saving, respecting and using every ingredient was essential to both the health of the restaurant, and our family itself. The respectful use of food is a lifeline in every way. Healthcare costs, our children’s test scores and future of our country are linked to the fuel we put in our collective engine.

How we use food

My grandfather was one of 14 kids and the only way he could afford to feed my mother and his family was to grow the majority of their food himself. He had a large garden and some small game. Come fall and winter, he would can, pickle and freeze vegetables. Nothing ever went to waste.

“About 48 million Americans may not know where they’ll find their next meal, while billions of pounds of food fills landfills.”

In the U.S. today, we waste 70 billion pounds of food each year. The amount of food we waste in this country is particularly troubling in light of the amount of people who face hunger. About 48 million Americans may not know where they’ll find their next meal, while billions of pounds of food fills landfills. It’s unacceptable, and that’s why I am so proud to be involved with Feeding America, an organization that rescues and redistributes safe, unused food as part of its mission to end hunger in America.

Trimming our waste-line

Feeding America is both the nation’s largest domestic hunger-relief organization and food rescue organization. Together with its network of 200 local food banks and partners in the food industry, it provides food to over 46 million people each year—more than 60 percent of which is food that would have gone to waste. Using innovative technology and safe handling procedures, Feeding America captures food at every step of the production process—from farm to store shelves. Last year alone, they saved more than 2 billion pounds of good food from being thrown out and got it to families in need.

Despite the good work being done, we as a nation have a long way to go.

September is Hunger Action Month and I want to encourage everyone to take action to address these two critical issues. Food connects cultures and generations. It keeps us alive, yet it does so much more. It crosses economic and cultural barriers and encourages sharing and caring about one another. Do your part by learning more about food waste, domestic hunger and what you can do to help feed your community. Working together, we can make sure everyone has enough to eat and create a brighter, more sustainable future for us all.