A recent viral video of a Target dumpster full of food and drinks caused a stir on the internet when it was posted to TikTok by a dumpster-diving-themed account.
“Target’s freezer broke OMG,” Love in the Dumpster (@loveinthedumpster) wrote.
They then proceeded to scavenge several containers of Simply Lemonade, Tropicana Orange Juice, and Califia Farms Iced Coffee — tasting samples from each one along the way to check that they were still good, and they were.
Many commenters were quick to point out that store policy requires employees to throw away anything past its “sell by” date or after the refrigerators or freezers stop working for any amount of time.
“Liability issues…” wrote one commenter. “Give it away to someone who might sue… not worth the risk.”
“This is heartbreaking,” one commenter had to say.
@loveinthedumpster Wish i would have taken more #dumpsterdiving #foodwaste ♬ Night Trouble – Petit Biscuit
However, other commenters chimed in that stores are able to donate food that is still edible, but many simply choose not to in order to avoid the perceived hassle. “There are legal protections in place for companies that choose to donate food in good faith,” wrote another commenter.
According to Feeding America, 34 million people — including more than 9 million children — face hunger in the United States.
Meanwhile, grocery stores across the country throw away an astonishing amount of food on a regular basis. Around one-third of the entire food supply in the United States goes uneaten due to loss or waste. This is both terrible for the environment — as that food is then sent to a landfill where it releases planet-warming gases as it decomposes — and a tragedy considering how many people go hungry.
There are examples of grocery stores giving away food after their refrigerators went out and not facing any of the looming lawsuits that TikTok commenters mention. A Kroger in Arkansas donated 60,000 meals to a local food bank after a power outage, and a Trader Joe’s in Louisiana gave away thousands of dollars of food for free after its freezers went out.
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