What If #2

The Silent and Brave revision page #128

Here’s my second what if. What if restaurants were forced by law to give away their unsold food? I know that some places try to do this, but if it was a law, we would see more doing it in local communities. Also, the supply lines would be better, so that unsold goods could be delivered where they need to before they go bad.

I have personal experience with this one, too, as I work in the business in question. If you have never worked in the industry, believe me, the amount of waste food is amazing. This in places where there are employees who often can’t afford to buy food for themselves and their families, because corporate restaurants make millions of dollars while still paying their employees the lowest possible wages. More times than I can count I have seen restuarant employees eating off the plates consumers have left behind, just because they are hungry.

The constant throwing out of food and supplies at restaurants, while hunger is an ever-present problem in our world and our community, is appalling. Now, this is a tricky subject, because we’re talking about “dumpster diving” for nourishment, which turns people off. There is a feeling that no one should have to live off of trash. From the restaurant industry, there is an idea that if they had to give away their unsold food no one would pay money for it. That is just wrong. I guarantee that people will still pay to go out to eat. People who can afford to eat out do so because they do not want to cook. They do not want to clean up. They want someone else to do it for them, and in the end, that is why they go out: the convenience of having someone else do the dirty work.

Here is my proposal, and in this case it would not apply to Mom and Pop restaurants, those smaller establishments that are only doing a little bit of business. This is for the big chain restaurants, that build million dollar buildings, corporate restaurants that are publicly traded on the stock market. I would limit the amount of trash they can have collected. After that amount is reached, they would pay a penalty.

It would be easy to make a cut-off where the rules would apply, say to any restaurant that does such and such in sales annually. Of course the restaurants would complain, but I want to emphasize again: they are earning plenty of money, while paying low wages, and while filling landfills with tons of trash. Also, they run businesses. They already control costs by training their executive chefs to order properly. If there were financial penalties, the incentives against waste would grow, and would be built into the menu choices. No more 2000 calorie plates that no one can finish, where half the food goes in the trash. No more throwing out ten gallons of milk because the expiration date has passed. Instead, that milk would go to a church or a shelter, two days before it expires. Do you see where I’m going here? Force businesses to make the changes by charging them for mistakes, and help the hungry at the same time. It’s not that hard to imagine, and it wouldn’t be that hard to put into practice.

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