Growing up, our parents used to get us to finish our dinner by telling about all the starving kids in Africa who go to bed hungry.

A half century later, the number of starving people are still growing, not only in third world countries but here in America. That's what makes stories about food being wasted so disturbing.

Last week, a study by the Natural Resources Defense Council, a nonprofit environmental organization, reported that Americans throw away about 40 percent of their food every year. That amounts to a staggering $165 billion being wasted annually. For an average American family of four, it comes to about $2,275 a year.

Just since the 1970s there has been a 50 percent jump in the amount of food waste. Considering that one in five households in Pennsylvania struggle with food hardship, it should make us mad.

The NRDC reports that just a 15 percent reduction in losses in the U.S. food supply would save enough to feed 25 million Americans annually. The reduction would also lighten the burden on landfills, where food waste makes up the largest component of solid waste.

Along with last week's wasted food report came a disturbing story about an elementary school in Salt Lake City that threw out the lunches of about 40 elementary school students who fell behind on their food lunch accounts.

Outrage from parents prompted the district to post an apology but the fact that food was thrown away while kids were hungry is disgusting. There are public schools in Boston that provide all students with cost-free breakfast and lunch, no matter their financial situation.

There's no doubt that the amount of food discarded after Sunday's Super Bowl parties held in homes, bars and restaurants across America would probably stagger us. Given the number of of food banks and food pantries being depleted these days, it just doesn't make a lot of sense.

By Jim Zbick

editor@tnonline.com