General Question

dxs's avatar

Is there anything I can do about all of this food going to waste?

Asked by dxs (14495points) January 30th, 2014

I’d assume this goes on in all chain restaurants. I was in one the other night at the time they were closing. I saw them throw away trays and trays of food right into the garbage. It made me furious and sick. There are people living just outside of the restaurant who don’t have enough food to adequately sustain themselves. Can I write to someone? I’ll organize something myself if I have to. That food shouldn’t go to waste. I was talking to one of the employees and she said that they are not even allowed to take the food home.

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31 Answers

talljasperman's avatar

Yes… you can buy, or raise enough money for, it with your own money and give it to the poor.

janbb's avatar

See if there is a local food bank and then write to the restaurant – if the food bank would be willing to take unpackaged food. I volunteer at one but they are very fussy.

josie's avatar

See @talljasperman
Buy it, possibly at a discount, and give it away. Nobody will ever stop you.

snowberry's avatar

It’s rare to find a place that will take food from a restaurant unless it’s been kept hot- or properly cooled and packaged for reception at a homeless shelter. This costs money.

Besides greed due to not wanting to feed people who might otherwise purchase food from a restaurant, thank lawsuits and health laws for that. The result is a tremendous amount of food is destroyed every day everywhere in the US, and hungry homeless people are right outside.

ibstubro's avatar

There’s probably realistically nothing you can do, @dxs. If the restaurant was closing, that probably means it was late so the food would have to be cooled, packaged and stored. Then unpackaged by someone, and reheated. That adds materials and labor to something the chain already writes off.

Then there’s the liability to the company if someone should get sick from eating the food, or some unscrupulous person get caught selling it.

Are you certain the food was being thrown away, as in landfill fodder? Some places that regularly make a lot of food waste sell it to hog farmers. If that would ease your conscious, you might try contacting corporate with the suggestion/question. Upi might also see if there are any environmental groups active in your area, and contact them. There is strength, and value in experience dealing with this kind of problem.

G’luck and thanks for giving a crap.

pleiades's avatar

Employees aren’t allowed to take it because it’s a risk of them just cooking and messing up on purpose and taking home that way. Also, restaurants aren’t allowed to give food to bums because they are liable and can be sued for food poisoning.

It’s really just as simple as those two statements.

p.s. (I’m a former full service restaurant worker)

dxs's avatar

I certainly don’t have the money to buy it.
I thought that liability would be a concern. But is that level of safetiness actually safer than what a person eking out a living is up against? I get that the restaurant won’t do it because of liability. But how is this different than me ordering something and getting food poisoning? Can they just sign a liability waiver or something? The restaurant doesn’t even have to be involved. What about a soup kitchen?
@ibstubro I saw it go straight from the pan to the trashcan.
And I refuse to just accept it as something that I can’t solve. Call me naïve, but I’d rather learn in person then just giving up. It’s worth a try.

flip86's avatar

When I worked at Arby’s about 8 years ago, it was always slow at night and the fries would get too old to serve and we’d have to toss them. Occasionally, I’d bag them up along with the extra sandwiches or chicken we had and give them to the homeless guys that always walked by. I mean, technically I was stealing, but not really since it was gonna be thrown out anyway. Those homeless guys would dig through the dumpsters and sometimes they’d pass out drunk inside the dumpster area. If we gave them the food they would take it and leave and we wouldn’t see them for a few days.

keobooks's avatar

You might want to start a local Food Not Bombs group in your area. They make arrangements with restaurants and they pick up leftover food to feed to homeless people. I think it’s vegetarian, but you could still work stuff out.

ibstubro's avatar

By no means let us dampen your spirit or slow your drive, @dxs. That’s exactly why I mentioned selling the leftovers as hog food. At least it’s out of the landfill and back in the food chain.

I’ve taken on any number of crusades in my life, and I’ve won more than I’ve lost.

livelaughlove21's avatar

Unless you’re going to buy the leftover food at every restaurant in your city, state, region, country, etc. and distribute it to the poor, nothing you can do will make any real difference. It might make you feel good about yourself and put an extra meal in the stomachs of a few hungry people, but that’s about it.

Buttonstc's avatar

Philabundance is a group in Philly which has successfully been doing this for years and I know there are groups in other locations also.

Why not contact them requesting advice on how this could be done in your location ?

I’m sure they could give you tips on how to jump through the regulatory hoops in order to accomplish this.

They do have a very well run organization with refrigerated food trucks, etc. But they had to start somehow. Drop them SN email or give them a call.
. ..

pleiades's avatar

@dxs Sorry I forgot to add this to my original answer. I’m with you all the way! It does suck and clearly something progressive could be thought up.

dxs's avatar

@keobooks Interesting! There’s one of those in my town. I should contact them and see if there is anything I can do.
The hardest thing is contacting the managers of the food at the restaurant. Approaching them seems difficult.
And thanks everyone!

ibstubro's avatar

If it’s a chain, @dxs, you don’t need to be contacting the food managers at the restaurant at this time. Food Not Bombs and Philabundance are great places to start. You need advice on how the food has to be handled (collected, redistributed) and advice on how to get corporate to agree.

It might be that you need to contact locally, present them with a plan, and let it work it’s way up, or it might be that you need to convince corporate to give an edict. Always hint that you want to shine the company on because that implies you’re willing to go public with your rebuffed attempts. “Imagine the media if you were too…” should strike fear in the hearts of any PR VP. A company man immediately imagines the reverse.

chewhorse's avatar

Yes, our state and federal g’ments forbid you or any food establishment from offering left-overs to the hungry.. Their reasoning (in this litigate society) is to lessen law suits and torts from those who get sick from them and luck in to hungry ambulance chasers.. They’ll even arrest dumpster divers so to find a cure is to organize a none profit organization specifically to feed the destitute and feed them fresh meals.. as for the waste, it’s a necessary pity that the majority refuses to finish eating what’s on their plates…

ibstubro's avatar

Actually, @chewhorse, it’s an unnecessarypity that the majority refuses to” only order what they can consume, or make use of their own leftovers.

Over-portioning and ”finish eating what’s on their plates” are major contributors to the epidemic American obesity problem.

Having passed the age of 50, I hope I’ve seen my last chain restaurant buffet.

janbb's avatar

@ibstubro Yes, I think the size of portions in this country is criminal. And some foods come home well and some don’t.

ibstubro's avatar

I agree, @janbb. I tend to (nearly subconsciously, now that I think about it) evaluate my meal when it arrives and if it’s more than I can eat, I tend to eat for re-heat or minimal waste. Eat the delicious sides and take the entree home, or ease up on the bland baked potato and make sure I finish the entree.

Where other people are impressed with “Enough food for two!”, it annoys me.

Years ago I heard some diet guru say, “If you want to lose weight, the first thing you have to do is resign your membership in the clean plate club”, and that is so, so true.

LuckyGuy's avatar

I’d make 3 suggestions.
1) Allow the kids to take home food they do not eat. Don’t force them to leave the cafeteria empty handed.
2) Allow them to take only what t they will eat. Don’t force them to take an apple if they won’t eat it.
3) Do not serve food that takes time to eat or is messy. Do not serve oranges that need to be peeled. Many kids do not want to be sticky all afternoon.

Food is too cheap. Shameful.

LuckyGuy's avatar

@janbb @ibstubro When I go to a restaurant I ask for a takeout box when the food arrives! I cut the meal in half immediately and put it in the box while it is still clean. That amount is enough for me.
I can enjoy the meal the next day – for free!

I should add, as far as I know this has not affected my manhood in any way.

Response moderated
ibstubro's avatar

You need a dining buddy so two can eat for the price of one, @LuckyGuy.

Did you intend the first post to go to ‘throwing out kid’s lunches’??

LuckyGuy's avatar

@ibstubro I never stiff the restaurant and the server. Even with two people we order two meals and take home 2 half dinners.
I get 4 great meals out of a Buy on get one free coupon. I still double tip as if I bought 2 full meals.

I will put that same reply in the school question. Thanks

ibstubro's avatar

We eat Mexican (at the same restaurant) all the time, and everyone orders off of the lunch menu. I think my dinner is $4.75 for entree and 2 sides. The staff seems fine with that, but, then again, we might eat there 4–5 dinners in a week. (Whatever the tight people I eat with leave for tip, I always try to add $2–3.)

Some restaurants allow you to share, but charge you $1+ for the extra plate.

I agree what you’re doing is a great value and works well for you. I just don’t much like keeping track of the go boxes.

dxs's avatar

Cafeterias are another problem. People get overwhelmed by the amount of food. I’m not looking for scraps off of a plate, though. I’m talking about a restaurant that is throwing away untouched food. It’s food that they were supposed to serve (already made).

ibstubro's avatar

Sorry, @dxs, we’ve sort of derailed your thread.

I would think that cafeterias would be easier to deal with, regarding making use of leftovers. At least they’re bulk, and easily packaged and transported. Downside would be use of steam tables causing food deterioration.

LuckyGuy's avatar

Back when I was a teenager working in McD I was told that they did not allow staff to take home leftover food. Why? They used to but had to stop because some kid started putting extra food down on the grill just before closing so they would have intentional leftovers.

There is always someone who ruins it for everyone.

dxs's avatar

^^My dad worked at McDonalds in the 80s and he said that he was allowed to take the food home.

ibstubro's avatar

I’ve worked in a lot of restaurants and I’ve never been allowed to take any food home. I didn’t even do it when I was kitchen manager. It’s just bad practice.

Many places will fire an employee if they’re caught eating anything while not on official break time. (Which is stupid and invites deceit.)

Most places I worked wouldn’t even allow you to buy food directly from the food rep and pay for it.

LuckyGuy's avatar

@dxs I was there in the early 70s. Maybe they looked at how good we were and decided to try it again.

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