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Pope: Wasting food is tantamount to stealing from the poor (so how can you help?)

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While the pope is pointing the finger at us wasting food as individuals and families, I have found that individuals can’t hold a candle to the food waste taking place among businesses.  In his speech, the pope also warned that a “culture of waste”  chiding media by adding “some homeless people die of cold on the streets, it is not news. In contrast, a 10-point drop on the stock markets of some cities, is a tragedy.”

The speech was part of the United Nations’ anti-food waste campaign to mark World Environment Day

As a volunteer who works with others to feed local children, I wanted to shout, “Amen!” when I read the pope's speech.

It wasn’t until I founded an all-volunteer chess program for at-risk kids after school at our local community center four years ago that I became familiar with the hunger that pains our community’s children. The quest to relieve their suffering led me to discover the stunning amount of food being  thrown away by businesses – much of it not rescued by food banks that are sorely in need of more volunteers to make the pick-ups.

Many kids here in Norfolk, Virg. go directly from school , where they eat lunch before noon in most cases, to their local community center for after school care programs so parents can work. In our city,  these programs often allow parents to pick kids up as late as seven p.m. In areas we serve with our after school chess programs most of the kids live well below the poverty line and don’t eat anything after school because parents often can’t afford to pack snacks or extra sandwiches.

The other volunteers and I quickly realized that it is impossible to teach a hungry child. School teachers knew this long before we did.

A local preacher, the Rev. Arthur Devine hooked us up by explaining that all the supermarkets, bakeries, and eateries must, by state law, throw away all foods labeled as “fresh” at the end of each day. He advised me to just go to store managers and ask to be allowed to pickup the food that was to be wasted.

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