No, we're not talking about a dating service for your leftover casseroles, although The Left-Over Queen does run a forum where you can get advice about new uses for day-old foods.
Jonathan Bloom's Wasted Food Blog has some good news for the many Americans visiting soup kitchens and food pantries:
"The other NRA, the National Restaurant Association, is getting more serious about food donation. The restaurant group announced a new partnership with the Food Donation Connection, a kind of food recovery matchmaker."
One of their partners is New York City's City Harvest, whose remarkable efficiency in getting highly perishable items like sushi from restaurant to soup kitchen plate I've seen in action. Those folks are like a stealth network of food gleaners, spread throughout the city to save high-quality leavings from the landfill and deliver them to soup kitchen patrons, who really appreciate the variety.
The thing about being homeless, or just hungry, is that you can find bland, high-calorie food at very low cost, or for free, if you know where meals are handed out. The variety and nutrition that make up any good diet, however, are increasingly more expensive, and thus, farther out of reach for struggling folks. Those benefiitting from the Food Donation Connection won't have any control over whether it's leftover pizza or steamed vegetables coming to them, however, and that lack of choice is one of the dehumanizing things about relying on donations. Think about the little taste-treats you indulge in all the time, the special coffee drinks and lunches out; now imagine having not having the luxury to choose beyond what charity sends your way.
Still, reducing the estimated 6000 tons of wasted food coming from restaurants each year is an important step. Since Americans who can afford it eat out more and more, efficient restaurant operations are a must. Let your favorite restaurants know about the Food Donation Connection; it's a win-win, socially and environmentally.