Food recovery is the practice of retrieving edible food that would otherwise go to waste and distributing it to those in need. In most cases, the recovered food is perfectly edible, but not sellable. In most cases, the rescued food is being saved from the dumpster and, ultimately, the landfill. Food recovered on farms is kept from being plowed under. The United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates that in the United States, an estimated 31 percent of the food available for consumption at the retail and consumer levels goes uneaten.

The need to improve healthy food recovery is in response to food insecurity or the state of being without reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food. Food insecurity and lack of fresh food access contributes to a poor diet and can lead to higher levels of obesity and other diet-related diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease (United States Department of Agriculture).  Of particular importance is the identification of unhealthy nutritional behaviors leading to poor eating habits and overall health.  According to the Community Health Status Assessment, obesity related risk factors include:  83% of Peoria County adults ate less than 5 servings of fruit and vegetables per day.  49% of this population ate 0-2 servings of fruit and vegetables daily. According to the Campaign to End Obesity, obesity is blamed for three-fourths of all high-blood pressure cases. Two-thirds of all adults with Type 2 diabetes are overweight. And, per capita, medical spending for obese people is $2,741 greater than for people of normal weight.

“Many Americans might view the association of being food insecure and obesity as a paradox given that food-insecurity is defined as having limited or uncertain access to food and obesity is commonly associated with overconsumption.” According to Dr. Angela Odoms-Young (Understanding the food-insecurity and obesity paradox, March 30, 2012, Feeding America),  “…members of food-insecure households use various coping strategies that may contribute to weight gain. To maintain adequate energy intake, many families with limited resources select high calorie-energy dense foods. These foods are traditionally the least expensive, are easy to over consume, have been shown to promote weight gain, and have been found to be more prevalent in low-income neighborhoods compared to healthier food options.”

Recently, several significant legal wins have occurred that have created an environment fertile for change:

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