Posts Tagged 'gleaning'

10,000 reasons why

The United States Department of Defense budget for 2010 was $680 billion dollars (if you need to see the zeros to put that in perspective, that’s $680,000,000,000).

To  simplify the following what-if, let’s pretend it was $500 billion[1]. One percent of one percent (one ten-thousandth) of that is $50 million dollars. Let’s say that we reduce the DoD budget by said 0.01% and divvy up that $50 million, giving each state a cool $1 million[2]. Keep that $1 million number under your hat for a few.

I was previously involved with a fantastic non-profit organization, the Boston Area Gleaners[3]. Gleaning both reduces waste and assists hunger relief efforts, and specifically fills the niche of providing fresh produce to food relief agencies which often are supplied primarily with dried and canned goods. In 2010, the organization gleaned 37,545 pounds (17,009 kg) of fresh, local produce from farms and salvaged 74,000 pounds (33,565 kg) of retail food, which was then distributed to numerous food relief agencies in the Boston area. The organization’s operating expenses for 2010 were less than $80,000, including the value of in-kind donations and pro bono work[4]. Let’s round that up to $100,000.

Coming back to that $1 million dollars per state, the Boston Area Gleaner’s entire operation could be funded with 10% of that amount. That still leaves 90% ($900,000) for other organizations and projects, not to mention the other $49 million for the other 49 states.

To recap: By reducing the defense budget by 0.01% (that is, leaving 99.99% of its current funding intact), five hundred such food relief and waste reduction programs across the nation could be fully funded.

We are the 99(.99)%.

  1. $180 billion dollars is an astronomical amount of money to just wave away. Just keep in mind that there’s more money tied up in the DoD than my hypothetical example demonstrates.
  2. Equal distribution to all states doesn’t factor in population, density, etc. Again, just keeping the numbers simple.
  3. I was a volunteer and a member of the board of directors. I did not receive any income from the organization.
  4. More details available in the 2010 annual report. Note that 2010 retail salvage operations were for a single Trader Joe’s location. Think for a second about how many grocery stores and other retail food outlets there are in the Boston area.