Make Food Not Waste to host community feast in Southfield

A Detroit nonprofit on a mission to save food from landfills is preparing a community feast with ingredients that would have otherwise been thrown away.

Make Food Not Waste is hosting the free community feast on April 13 at the Southfield Pavilion to inspire individuals to waste less food at home. It’s the third community feast after the nonprofit held its first in 2018 and took a hiatus during COVID-19.

On the menu is an herb-roasted turkey using surplus meat from Kroger, a vegan curry vegetable stew and rice pilaf using vegetables from Metro Food Rescue and a fruit cobbler made with dough from Eastern Market-based Pietrzyk Pierogi.

Detroit produces an estimated 251 million pounds of food waste annually, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council, more than half of which is created in the home. Once thrown away, the food creates greenhouse gasses, contributing to climate change. One pound of food waste creates roughly a pound of methane emissions, a potent gas 28 times stronger than carbon dioxide at trapping heat in the atmosphere. Food waste is also a financial strain, costing the average American household $1,500 a year.

In 2022, the state of Michigan released its plan to reach carbon neutrality by 2050, which includes a plan to cut food waste in half over the next six years, a key step considering food is the most landfilled item in Michigan.

“As Michigan has a goal of cutting food waste in half by 2030 we know that households are going to have to be a really big part of that effort,” said Danielle Todd, executive director of Make Food Not Waste. “And we have to help people figure out how they can cut down on this in the easiest way possible.”

Examples, Todd said, include teaching people to make meal plans for the week, that a sell-by date doesn’t mean the food needs to be thrown away or helping people get started with composting, which returns nutrients to the soil instead of going to a landfill.

“There are lots of pretty easy things that people can do and this event is basically a big party to help people get excited about it and learn how they can do it,” said Todd.

In 2024, Make Food Not Waste saved 100,000 pounds of food from landfills, using it to create 100,000 free meals for community members, Todd said. That food then gets distributed to partners like Motor City Mitten Mission and Everybody Eatz.

The feast is being held in Southfield to complement Make Food Not Waste’s pilot program – a partnership of 18 organizations aiming to divert all of Southfield’s food waste – an estimated 30 million pounds annually – from the landfill.

Make Food Not Waste is back with its annual community feast. The first was held in 2018 at Eastern Market. Credit: Make Food Not Waste

Make Food Not Waste held its first community feast in 2018 at Eastern Market, with 2,500 people in attendance and another in 2019 with even more attendees.

“We wanted to bring the feast back because we haven’t done it since pre-pandemic and it seemed like a natural fit to do it in Southfield since we’re working on this project there,” Todd said.

U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow is also expected to make an appearance to talk about the Farm Bill, a massive package of legislation passed every five years addressing agriculture, nutrition, crop insurance, and more. The bill expired in 2023 and was extended one year after Congress failed to pass a new bill.

Erica Pietrzyk, founder of Pietrzyk Pierogi, estimates that she has given Make Food Not Waste several hundred pounds of scrap dough over the past two years.

“What I like is that they take our dough and they use it for things that traditionally pierogi dough wouldn’t necessarily be used for,” said Pietrzyk, adding that people ask in her pierogi-making classes how to use the extra dough.

“At the end of the day we’re going to have extra dough,” she said, “but at least this way we can give portions of it to them and remove some of it from a landfill and let it be shared with other people.”

The Community Feast will be held at Southfield Pavilion, 26000 Evergreen Rd, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

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