The time is upon us when Americans give thanks for what has been, for many people, a bountiful season, whether that is because of a slowing of the COVID-19 pandemic or financial security brought on by a better economy. Among the reasons that repeat each year for Thanksgiving is that so many Americans eat phenomenally well, compared the most of the rest of the world. This does leave out millions of citizens who go hungry, primarily because they live in poverty.
The poverty problem in the United States has led to a condition called “food insecurity.” It is defined by Feeding America as “a lack of consistent access to enough food for an active, healthy life.” About 37 million Americans suffer from food insecurity. This includes 11 million children.
The food insecurity situation in America is particularly tragic because Americans throw away so much food. A new study from LawnStarter titled “2022’s States That Waste the Most Food” points out: “About 30–40% of the national food supply goes to waste each year, 200 million pounds of which comes from Thanksgiving turkeys alone. But some states contribute more to that total than others.”
The sources of the data were Food Rescue US, ReFED, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Composting Council. These were used to create a methodology. The information was analyzed to create several metrics used to create state scores. These included the amount of food wasted, repurposed food waste and food waste management practices and programs.
States were ranked on a scale of 1 to 100. The state with the lowest overall score was Massachusetts at 33.33. It did well across all measures. Interestingly, neighboring Connecticut was second best with a score of 39.46. Oregon was third best with a score of 41.06. The fourth-place state was another Massachusetts neighbor. Vermont had a score of 48.17. These four states were the only ones with scores below 50.
The state with the highest overall food waste score was Arizona, with a figure of 82.91. It did particularly poorly on the repurposing food yardstick. North Dakota ranked second with a score of 78.13. It did so based on its strength in the same category. This also was true of third place Hawaii, with its overall score of 77.54.
These are the 10 states that waste the most food:
- Arizona (82.91)
- North Dakota (78.13)
- Hawaii (77.54)
- Nevada (77.12)
- Oklahoma (76.68)
- West Virginia (75.79)
- Wisconsin (75.73)
- Georgia (74.90)
- Montana (74.33)
- South Dakota (74.00)