Americans Toss Out 40 Percent of All Food

While more and more of the world’s poor go hungry, and the same can now be said of the poor of America, U.S. residents are wasting food like never before.

A new study finds food waste per person has shot up 50 percent since 1974. The study finds that about 40 percent of all the food produced in the United States is tossed out.

Meanwhile, a recent report by the Department of Agriculture finds the number of U.S. homes lacking "food security," meaning their eating habits were disrupted for lack of money, rose from 4.7 million in 2007 to 6.7 million last year.

Last year, an international group estimated that up to 30 percent of food — worth about $48.3 billion — is wasted each year in the United States. That report concluded that despite food shortages in many countries, plenty of food is available to feed the world, it just doesn't get where it needs to go.

Worldwide, about 1 billion people worldwide don't have enough to eat, according to the World Food Program.


Stephan Schmidheiny, the Bill Gates Of Switzerland

Roberto Laureano da Rocha lives on the outskirts of São Paulo, Brazil in the impoverished Calmon Viana neighborhood, where most residents make a living as waste pickers, scrounging for aluminum cans and cardboard.

But five years ago Da Rocha began working with the Avina Foundation, which he was introduced to through a waste cooperative. Now, at 35, he heads the co-op and has transformed his shack into a two-story home for his family of four.

Avina was founded 15 years ago by one of the world's least known and most foresighted philanthropists, Swiss billionaire Stephan Schmidheiny, 61. He was early on the sustainable-development bandwagon; in the early 1980s his forestry company GrupoNueva planted fast-growing trees on abandoned farmland in Concepción, Chile. He was also ahead of most do-gooders in aiming to help the poor by boosting their entrepreneurial efforts rather than by handing them welfare.

In 2003 Schmidheiny placed $1 billion in business assets into a charitable trust, which uses up to $30 million of profits annually to help entrepreneurs across both Central and South America. He says he considered becoming a missionary but instead studied law and worked around the globe for his family's business. Schmidheiny's Latin American focus grew from his own business and environmental interests in the region.

Sean McKaughan, who now heads a staff of 120 at Avina, says that South America is a good laboratory for the entrepreneurial approach to reducing poverty. Nearly a third of Brazil's and almost two-thirds of tiny Honduras' populations live in poverty. But Latin America still has enough prosperity to give it a GDP per capita of $4,800, six times the number for sub-Saharan Africa. Says McKaughan. "Here we generate ideas that are applicable to Africa and Asia."



Giving internationally via American intermediary charities

Americans have shown a growing interest in philanthropic causes overseas in recent years. But giving abroad can be complicated. Ensuring that such donations reach their intended target and are used effectively, are tax-deductible and don't violate antiterrorism laws or any other U.S. government restrictions can be a daunting task.

Those are some of the reasons many donors opt to work with U.S.-based intermediary charities created for international giving. These organizations act as a channel for donations, ensuring that the money goes to reputable recipients and has the desired effect, and that contributions meet all legal requirements. Because they are U.S.-based, donations made through them are tax-deductible.

Contributors can ask an intermediary to direct money to a cause they have chosen, or choose to support projects an intermediary recommends. Contributions can be made by individuals, groups, foundations or companies.

A list of intermediaries and nonprofits involved in international philanthropy can be found on the Web site of U.S. International Grantmaking, usig.org, a project of the Council on Foundations and the International Center for Not-for-Profit Law.

Wall Street Journal


Charitable giving lowest in half a century

The recession has caused the biggest drop in charitable giving in the last 50 years, according to Charity Navigator.

That’s particularly bad news for those charities that rely on year-end donations, notes the on-line charity rating organization.

“It is especially critical this holiday season that donors give not just with their heart, but also with their head,” Charity Navigator President and CEO Ken Berger said in a news release: “Smart donors seek out charities that are financially healthy, that have a culture of accountability and transparency, and that deliver lasting benefits for the people and communities they serve.”


Bill and Melinda Gates lobby U.S. for global health funding

Bill and Melinda Gates made an unusual personal appeal to Washington officials, asking them to continue funding global health initiatives despite the recession and to commit to nearly halve the number of child deaths worldwide by 2025.

"Government funding that's coming from the United States is making a huge difference on the ground in the developing world," Melinda Gates said in an interview last week. Particularly over the past four to five years, she said, "it's really palpable -- it's making a huge difference saving lives."

The Gates’ presentation was meant to show that U.S. funding is saving lives and that child deaths worldwide can be cut from more than 9 million to 5 million a year in the next 15 years.

Full story