City wasting less food, but work remains

City wasting less food, but work remains

Day by Day

By LIZ THOMPSON

January 4, 2020

This Week News

The holidays are over, and in many cases, our stomachs show the evidence of their feasts and bountiful sweets.

But buffets with mounds of food always have squelched my appetite. It might be the huge selection, the mixture of food aromas or that I was taught to eat all the food on my plate at a meal.

I also know many people go without even a portion of that bounty.

Although the United States is considered a land of plenty, many live with food insecurity. We all should ponder how we manage the food we buy.

As my husband, Bob, and I gradually moved from a household of five down to two, we continued to cook for five. Our freezer often was full of leftovers. But I confess to throwing food away in the past.

Over the past 25 years, we learned to cook for two. We subscribed to Cooking for Two magazine from Taste of Home. I found allrecipes.com, where you can choose the number of people you want the recipe to serve, and it adjusts the measurements.

Ty Marsh, executive director of the Solid Waste Authority of Central Ohio, said in Franklin County alone, nearly a million pounds of food waste enters the landfill every day.

Dr. Allan Lines, Ohio State University professor emeritus and a Worthington resident, taught courses in farm management, farm finance and agribusiness finance. He remains active as an agricultural consultant in Ohio, the U.S. and in international agriculture.

“There is a lot of food wasted here and in the rest of the developed world,” Lines said.

He said he was shocked in 2018 when he took a group of visiting professors from Ukraine to a food-distribution company in central Ohio.

“The managers of the warehouse told us that of every 100 semitruck trailers coming into the distribution center with fresh food, four truckloads were separated as ‘unusable’ and sent on to the landfill,” he said.

“This was largely because of spoilage or conditions, such as blemishes, poor coloring, unripe, overripe and misshapen or other attributes the consumer is unwilling to purchase,” Lines said. “So it is not just the waste at home. We have a long way to go to train families, young and old, that fresh foods don’t need to be perfect to be edible and nutritious.”

We each can take measures to become better at managing our resources.

Bob and I have a small compost bin in our yard that we fill with food scraps. This becomes soil rich with nutrients for our garden. SWACO recommends shopping with a list — I have heard never to shop hungry — as well as freezing leftovers or feeding them to your dog (if they’re safe for animals).

Our dog has refused only a few foods, but check with your veterinarian for recommendations. Like people, all dogs are different.

I was encouraged to learn that a year ago, SWACO launched the Central Ohio Food Waste Initiative, a group of more than 60 organizations working together to reduce food waste. The initiative is concentrating on three areas: food-waste prevention, food rescue (getting extra food to those in need) and food recycling.

This group will release the results of a feasibility study and kick off a consumer-education campaign this year, including a food-waste-reduction program in schools.

SWACO grants support residential compost options across the region. The cities of Bexley, Worthington and Upper Arlington have instituted the pilot program.

In November, SWACO released new numbers that show central Ohio has surpassed a 50% diversion rate. This means residents and businesses are keeping more than half of the waste they create out of the landfill by recycling, composting and reusing materials.

When you see that not-so-perfect piece of fruit dangling from a tree or in the produce department, give it a try. Think of ways to be wise with the food available to us.

Make our only footprint in that compost-rich soil of our garden, with a lifestyle of guarding our land’s resources.

Check out swaco.org and look for places to dispose of products. To learn about the initiative, go to cofwi.com.

Handcrafted bowls, filled, fight hunger

Handcrafted bowls, filled, fight hunger

By LIZ THOMPSON
September 8, 2019
This Week News

The analogy of whether a partial glass of water is half-full or half-empty has been around for generations.

I heard it when a college classmate had interviewed for the Peace Corps. The interviewer wanted to know if she was an optimist or a pessimist. I’m guessing the half-empty applicants did not make the cut.

But what if we are looking at an empty soup bowl? Is it empty because we just finished eating a hot bowl of soup? Or was it never filled to begin with?

“Hunger,” according to Feeding America, “refers to a personal, physical sensation of discomfort, while food insecurity refers to a lack of available financial resources for food at the level of the household.”

The nonprofit organization adds that one in eight Americans are food-insecure.

According to farmingtofighthunger.com, 41 million people struggle with hunger in the United States, including 13 million children. Teachers state that 62% of students come to school hungry, the website says.

Central Ohio is not immune to food insecurity. According to a 2018 article by Rita Price in The Columbus Dispatch, one-third of families in Columbus experience it.

Locally, people are working to help put food on people’s tables and in their bowls.

That’s where Empty Bowls, an international movement that began about three decades ago and in which many communities participate, comes in.

Now in its 22nd year, a local Empty Bowls project has raised more than $275,000 for the Mid-Ohio Foodbank.

“As part of an international fight against hunger, ceramic bowls are made by Columbus (Ohio) Recreation and Parks staff, volunteers and partners of all ages and then put on display at our partner locations,” said Wendy Frantz, Empty Bowls project coordinator and recreation administrative manager.

For a $10 minimum donation, the public is invited to select a bowl and enjoy a meal of homemade soup and bread, Frantz said.

The project is a collaborative effort among the Columbus Recreation and Parks Department, several churches and a variety of businesses and program sponsors, she said.

I still have the ceramic bowl made by a girl in the Grove City Parks and Recreation Department in 2000, the first time I attended an Empty Bowls event. Last year, I purchased another. (See photo below.)

“The funds are nonrestricted funds, meaning they go toward feeding hungry neighbors and can potentially cover other expenses that will allow the food bank to operate,” said Malik Perkins, public relations manager for the Mid-Ohio Foodbank. “When funds are used to purchase food, $1 can buy up to $10 in groceries for the people we serve.

“We are thankful to have a network of generous people who are willing to join us in our fight to end hunger.”

People of all ages can make a bowl at several community centers. Events include:

‒ Woodward Park Community Center, 5147 Karl Road, Columbus, 1 to 2:30 and 7 to 8:30 p.m. Thursdays through Oct. 24.

‒ Far East Community Center, 1826 Lattimer Drive, Columbus, with parent/child bowl-making classes at 6:15 p.m. Tuesdays in October.

‒ Tuttle Park Community Center, 240 W. Oakland Ave., Columbus, 7 to 8:30 p.m. Thursdays, Sept. 19 through Oct. 17.

‒ Martin Janis Community Senior Center, 600 E. 11th Ave., Columbus, 2 to 4:30 p.m. Wednesdays through Oct. 30.

After the bowls are completed, events to sell the bowls and enjoy soup and bread begin. Events on Nov. 2 include:

‒ Parkview United Methodist Church, 344 S. Algonquin Ave., Columbus, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

‒ Tuttle Park Community Center, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

‒ Woodward Park Community Center, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

‒ Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church, 2213 White Road, Grove City, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

For more events and details, go to columbus.gov/emptybowls

My two bowls: L – 2018 and R – 2000