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Climate experts say rescue food can reduce warming; it now feeds those in need

Atlanta Community Food Bank

Climate-change experts issued a report Thursday that said rescue food efforts, such as those overseen by Atlanta Community Food Bank, can reduce warming by reducing food waste. Credit: Atlanta Community Food Bank

By David Pendered

Climate-change scientists meeting in Geneva released a report Thursday that locks on to one of metro Atlanta’s popular social action programs as a way to stem global warming – rescuing food that’s destined for the landfill and getting it on someone’s table.

Atlanta Community Food Bank

Climate-change experts issued a report Thursday that said rescue food efforts, such as those overseen by Atlanta Community Food Bank, can reduce warming by reducing food waste. Credit: Atlanta Community Food Bank

The scientists’ report portrayed food that is lost or wasted as a significant contributor of carbon dioxide; that’s the primary climate-warming greenhouse gas created by humans.

From 8 percent to 10 percent of the human-made CO2 emissions are connected to food loss and waste, according to the report. In addition, from 25 percent to 30 percent of all the food produced in the world is lost or wasted, according to the report.

The report was released by the Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change. The IPCC was formed to provide the United Nations with a science-based perspective on the implications of climate change.

The paper is viewed as a key contribution to global negotiations on climate and environmental issues and is expected to be cited in September in India, at the Conference of the Parties of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (COP14), and in December in Chile at the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference (COP25).

Reducing food waste is among the report’s top “response options” for addressing climate change. Citing a high degree of confidence, the report contends that a reduction in food waste and better land management:

  • “has the potential to reduce demand for land, thereby enhancing the potential for other response options to deliver across each of climate change adaptation and mitigation, combating desertification and land degradation, and enhancing food security.”

The climate-change aspect provides an added perspective on the benefits of the effort known as food rescue.

IPCC report, cover

Spanning some 1,300 pages, a report released Thursday by a UN body on climate change provides an array of options for reducing the rate of climate warming. Credit: ipcc.ch

Donors provide food, typically fresh produce that’s soon to expire and other such items, to a program that distributes the food to folks who need some help getting some food into their home.

Rescue food has largely been portrayed as a way to help the needy, whether the need be chronic or short-lived, as at times when illness or job loss cuts a household income. Familiar programs in metro Atlanta include:

  • Second Helpings Atlanta, which says it rescues more than 100,000 pounds of food a month, enough to provide more than 83,000 meals;
  • Atlanta Community Food Bank, which collects food from donors including restaurants and distributes to partner agencies that provides food to those in need – more than 60 million meals a year to more than 755,000 individuals;
  • Goodr, which opened it headquarters in July off John Wesley Dobbs Avenue, intends to use digital technology to facilitate food donations in a business model that, “aims to provide a triple-win solution by improving an organization’s bottom line through charitable tax donations, reducing its greenhouse emissions from landfills and getting its edible surplus food to local communities in need.”

The IPCC report spans some 1,300 pages and comes under the lengthy title, Climate Change and Land, an IPCC special report on climate change, desertification, land degradation, sustainable land management, food security, and greenhouse gas fluxes in terrestrial ecosystems.

The issue of food loss and waste is included in a section on food security. The report observes:

  • “The report highlights that climate change is affecting all four pillars of food security: availability (yield and production), access (prices and ability to obtain food), utilization (nutrition and cooking), and stability (disruptions to availability).”

Priyadarshi Shukla, who co-chaired a working group and represented India, was quoted as saying:

  • “Food security will be increasingly affected by future climate change through yield declines – especially in the tropics – increased prices, reduced nutrient quality, and supply chain disruptions. We will see different effects in different countries, but there will be more drastic impacts on low- income countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean.”


David Pendered

David Pendered, Managing Editor, is an Atlanta journalist with more than 30 years experience reporting on the region’s urban affairs, from Atlanta City Hall to the state Capitol. Since 2008, he has written for print and digital publications, and advised on media and governmental affairs. Previously, he spent more than 26 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and won awards for his coverage of schools and urban development. David graduated from North Carolina State University and was a Western Knight Center Fellow.


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1 Comment

  1. Gail Pennington August 9, 2019 2:35 pm

    Thank you for the interesting and thoughtful look into ways that rescuing food benefits the world. I would like to invite you to visit the Community Assistance Center Food Pantry in Sandy Springs for a more personal take on food rescue. We partner closely with both the Atlanta Community Food Bank and Second Helpings, as well as with many local food sources, to get food to people in need.Report


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