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Reports: Tons of Super Bowl food otherwise bound for landfill being rescued by volunteers

What happens to the tons of food left over from official Super Bowl parties, tailgates and the game itself?

Thanks to the work of volunteers, a staggering amount of it isn’t going to waste.

Between 25,000 and 30,000 pounds of unused food from Sunday’s game and surrounding events is being hauled out of Hard Rock Stadium this week by volunteers to be delivered to five Miami-area food shelters, according to multiple reports.

Where would it go without the efforts of volunteers?

Straight to the trash, according to the leader of the rescue effort.

‘Straight to landfills’

The Miami chapter of Food Rescue US — a group that saves fresh food from business waste — is coordinating the effort alongside Centerplate, the food and beverage partner at Hard Rock Stadium.

“It is amazing, the food you see going straight to landfills,” Food Rescue US Miami site director Ellen Bowen told the Miami Herald on Monday.

As the NFL depends on volunteers to limit Super Bowl food waste, it should incorporate the effort into its business plan. (Douglas DeFelice/Reuters)

10,000 pounds saved on Day 1

Bowen told ESPN on Tuesday that the group saved 10,000 pounds of food on Monday and expected to match that total by the end of Tuesday’s work done completely by volunteers. She expects efforts by end of the week to save up to 30,000 pounds of food that can feed 20,000 people in need.

“It's a full volunteer job for everyone,” Bowen said. “We just want to help people in need. It's amazing to see how much food there is that otherwise would have been thrown in the trash that can now feed so many people.”

Among the food to be distributed includes beef tenderloins, ribs, salmon, trays of macaroni and cheese, wings and charcuterie plates from VIP sections, according to reports.

The NFL’s environmental effort NFL Green is reportedly aligned with the effort as well.

An effort to save thousands of pounds of food from Mercedes-Benz Stadium in last year’s Super Bowl was reportedly run by local volunteer group Second Helpings Atlanta. But there’s not much history of food-waste prevention at the NFL’s showcase event.

This should be the norm

It’s great that volunteers are stepping up to address this multi-pronged problem. But there’s no reason this kind of effort shouldn’t be the norm and funded by the NFL as it annually builds its monument to gluttonous consumerism around its championship game.

There’s plenty of money coming in to the $15 billion league that a small portion could be gleaned to ensure food waste is minimized at each Super Bowl — and for each regular season and preseason game, for that matter.

Doing so solves multiple problems with no reasonable downside. Hungry people get fed. Food that would normally sit in dumps and emit environmentally harmful methane gas is consumed. And animals that are slaughtered for consumption don’t end up wastefully thrown in the trash instead.

Preventing those solvable problems should be considered an expense of a responsible business rather than left to chance and reliant on the kindness of volunteers.

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