Going “Halfsies” at Dinner to help Fight Hunger and Obesity
Discovering non-profits that are working to end hunger make our collective hearts swell. Even better is when we stumble on a new, Austin based organization. We can’t hide our giddiness about Halfsies, a local non-profit that’s looking to address obesity, food waste and hunger. They’re looking to do this through a simple initiative that would allow you to “go halfsies” when you go out to eat. This means you’d receive a smaller portion (addressing obesity and food waste) and 25% of your meal cost would be donated to local and global non-profits (hunger).
It’s common knowledge that obesity and food waste are issues in the United States, but the numbers are shocking. First of all, recent studies have shown that when people are given larger food portions, they’ll over eat without realizing it. Beyond that, about 40% of the food produced in the United States isn’t consumed. Americans waste 50% more food today than in 1974. Of all the food we waste, if 5% of those scraps were recovered we could feed 4 million people, 25% would feed 20 million.
And it doesn’t just stop when the food is thrown in the garbage. Once the food gets to the landfill, it generates methane, the greenhouse gas that is 23 times as potent as carbon dioxide in trapping heat. And in a 2009 study the National Institutes of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases concluded that each year a quarter of U.S. water consumption and more than 300 million barrels of oil (4% of U.S. oil consumption) go into producing and distributing food that ultimately ends up in landfills.
On top of all that waste is the obesity epidemic that is spreading across the United States.
To try to understand our obesity rates, all you have to do is look at the amount of food on your plate at most restaurants. In the 1970’s around 47% of Americans were overweight or obese, we’re now looking at a 66% obesity rate. For the first time in history, American children could have shorter life spans than their parents due to obesity. Two slices of pizza 20 years ago was 500 calories, today it’s 850 calories. A hamburger used to be 333 calories, today it’s 590 calories. Our portions are getting bigger, so are our waistlines.
With all of this comes the problem of food insecurity. Thanks to our current system, what’s most available in the U.S. is processed food, the kind that leaves us with a lot of calories and not a lot of nutrition. In 2009 50.2 million Americans lived in food insecure households, with 17.2 million of those being children. Looking at it from a local level, 43% of Travis county residents have incomes below the poverty level and have trouble providing enough food for themselves and their families.
Sometimes seeing the numbers helps to paint the picture. The next step is figuring out what we can do to reduce these outrageous statistics. That’s where halfsies come in. They want to help in a unique way, offering up a simple way for the general public to help in the fight against hunger and obesity. Still in the beginning phases, they’re in the process of getting partner restaurants in Austin. Check out their website, Twitter and Facebook for more information.