More than 50,000 out-of-towners are in Philadelphia this week attending the Democratic National Convention. All of those visitors have to be housed and fed, which means a lot of food—and a lot of leftovers. To keep wasted food to a minimum, the group Food Connect has partnered with local food banks and food recovery efforts to divert perfectly good excess food from DNC events to the people who need it most. To get that done, Food Connect has developed an app that connects restaurants and food service groups to food pantries and distribution centers. The food is transported by qualified volunteer drivers.

As we just reported in “Spoiler Alert: You're Wasting 1 in 4 Bags of Groceries,” Americans waste an astonishing 40 percent of the food grown in the U.S. A lot of food waste takes place in our own kitchens, but restaurants with oversized portions and overstocked buffets are also part of the problem. Picture a buffet at any event you’ve attended and that’s what the folks in Philly are encountering this week.

What Food Can be Donated and What Can't

Of course, there are food safety rules about what can be donated and what can’t. Food that’s been previously served is still consigned to the trash. But here’s what Food Connect will accept:

  • Food that has not been on the serving line.
  • Prepared hot food that has been stored above 135 degrees.
  • Cold food that has been stored below 41 degrees.
  • Whole uncut, and unpeeled fruits and vegetables.
  • Unopened packaged/canned/boxed food.
  • Commercially bottled/canned beverages.

The founder of Food Connect came up with the idea for redistributing food from mega-events after seeing how much food was wasted following the visit of Pope Francis to Philadelphia last year. And it’s a good call to action. According to Food Connect’s website, one in four Philadelphians is food insecure and 90 percent of the city’s 700 food pantries have reported running low or out of food at some point during the year. All donations are tax deductible and both donors and drivers can volunteer on the Food Connect website.

As for the rest of us, there’s plenty we can do to cut our own food waste. We recently interviewed Dana Gunders, the author of the “Waste Free Kitchen Handbook” for our story “Use a Grocery List and Other Ways to Cut Food Waste.” And Julia Collin Davison from America’s Test Kitchen shared some tips for keeping leftovers tasty in “Kitchen Hacks That Make the Most Out of Leftovers.” Finally, Consumer Reports tested several food storage containers to see if they keep produce fresher longer. You’ll find the results in “Can Special Food Storage Containers Keep Your Produce Fresh Longer?