When 10:30 a.m. rolls around, Roess Dining Hall changes over all the leftover breakfast foods to their lunch menu, leaving hundreds of pre-wrapped biscuits, fruits, and cereals left. Meanwhile, in Boone and Watauga County, numerous families are living in poverty.
Unfortunately, poverty and food waste are major problems in both Watauga County and America as a whole.
Thirty-one percent of the Watauga population is living in poverty, according to the U.S. Census.
Even with the skewing effect of the student population, that is significant. That means more than 14,000 people in Watauga County are living in low income situations and need help. Looking at the big picture, there are 46.6 million people in America who live under the poverty line.
In America, 30 to 40 percent of food is wasted and thrown away to rot in landfills. Not only is this detrimental to the environment, it is also wasting food that could go to feeding America’s lower income families.
This number is mind boggling to think about, and clearly shows the extent of our food waste problem.
While both of these issues remain big problems in America, we can alleviate both using a single solution, a solution being carried out close to home.
All around the country, communities are banding together to tackle this problem. Appalachian State University in particular is playing a major role in helping feed Watauga County’s lower income families.
For the past thirteen years Appalachian State University has donated leftover food to the Hunger and Health Coalition, which then gets distributed to the lower income families in Watauga County, according to Emmy Oakley, the Hunger and Health Coalition volunteer coordinator.
At the end of the day five days a week, the school packs up around 75 pounds of food that is then sent off to be redistributed to families.
Dishes from Traditions in Roess or the Hot Food bar in Trivette Dining Hall are packaged up, frozen and then sent out to families. Food items like pizza and sandwiches are given out separately as needed.
This love triangle is a great example of how generous people are, and how much help can be given if people work together towards a common goal. A good chunk of the work is done by volunteers, including students, teachers and members of the community.
The amount of people who could benefit from leftover foods is extremely high. There are so many ways for people to come together and eliminate food waste, that feeding the hungry and those left needing should not be a problem.
Like Appalachian State University, if other communities started donating leftover food instead of just throwing it out, schools and cities nationwide could help reach thousands of people.
Branch, a sophomore journalism major from Brunswick, Ga., is an opinion writer.