Feeding the hungry with the help of airport security lines

02Apr10

Airport security people confiscate a lot of food and drinks. From water to yogurt to fruit juice, substantial numbers of brand-new, never-opened food products are taken away for being over the three ounce limit. But where does it all go? I’m guessing the security screening people just throw the food away, or perhaps keep it for themselves. Regardless of which case is more prevalent, this is clearly a waste.

The airports, TSA and others should sit down and figure out a plan for doing some good with all the food and drinks that would otherwise disappear. Items that were already open belong in the trash. But unopened food products could be stored and then donated to local food pantries or other charities focused on feeding the hungry. At the same time, the airports should put up signage explaining that any factory-sealed food and drink that can’t be brought onto the plane will be given to people in need. Heck, they could even extend this messaging throughout the airport and provide donation bins, so that people can have a better option than just throwing the food away or waiting for it to be confiscated.

Wouldn’t this involve a significant amount of extra work? Perhaps, though the effort shouldn’t be much different than separating trash from recycling in homes and offices. And as anyone who travels can attest, a lot of perfectly good food and drinks are thrown away in airports every day. If even half of those items could be reclaimed as I’ve described, the resulting impact on food charities and the people they serve would be enormous. With just a small change in traveler and airport staff behavior, the donated food would probably be equivalent to hundreds of millions of dollars a year in additional monetary contributions.



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