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How We Stop Wasting Food

How We Stop Wasting Food



Getting surplus food into the mouths of the hungry is more complicated than it seems. Join our moderator, Hugo, and portfolio manager, Simon, for a conversation with Laura Winningham, CEO of City Harvest London, which has rescued 4,000 tons of surplus food and delivered 10 million meals to those in need.

Laura’s comments are edited excerpts from our podcast, which you can listen to in full below.


Why did you start City Harvest London?

Laura: I was aware of food rescue efforts in other major cities around the world, but when I arrived in London 12 years ago, there really was no one doing this—rescuing perfectly edible surplus food that’s unused for any number of reasons, such as oversupply or mislabeling.

How did you get your arms around the program? How did you discover how much food was being wasted and how many people were going hungry?

Laura: The United Kingdom, unlike other first-world countries, didn’t keep food poverty statistics. But we had information on poverty and could infer that people were hungry. So we started small, collecting food from Whole Foods Kensington and delivering it to one church in West London. From that point, we could see how great the need was.

Then, a couple of years ago, Bain & Company did some pro bono work for us so we could have numbers surrounding food poverty and food waste. From that research, we learned that in London, every month, 9.2 million meals are missed by people living in food poverty, and 13.3 million meals are wasted by businesses. So there’s more than enough food being wasted to feed people every meal that they’re missing.

In London, every month, 9.2 million meals are missed by people living in food poverty, and 13.3 million meals are wasted by businesses. So there’s more than enough food being wasted to feed people every meal that they’re missing.

How did you identify who the big food wasters were, and how do you get them on board to help?

Laura: Given limited data, it involved networking—speaking to companies one at a time. At the time, the media was starting to look at food waste and supermarkets were getting into trouble on social media, so they were interested in speaking to us.

So it’s not that people don’t want to help; they just need a solution that is fairly frictionless?

Laura: Exactly. And the challenges differ by business.

In an average supermarket, the person by the back door is making the decision about whether to chuck the food or put it safely aside for us to collect. Because there’s high turnover, even if we introduce the concept of donating surplus food, when the person by the back door changes, we’re back to square one.

Manufacturers have surplus food coming out of assembly lines, but those assembly lines are efficient, and manufacturers don’t want to add the extra cost of stepping in and collecting the surplus. They also might not have storage facilities.

So, we work with each potential donor to understand its needs and how we could offer a frictionless solutions.

Can you share a success story?

Laura: Nando’s restaurants were throwing out a lot of edible chicken because its moisture decreased after a couple of hours. So they started putting the chicken pieces in freezer bags in a dedicated freezer. City Harvest came in, went to the freezer, picked up the chicken pieces, and left. So it was as easy for the restaurant to give us the chicken as it would have been to throw it out. That’s the best-case scenario. The supplier is happy it is donating, and there’s no extra work or cost.

How often do you try to partner with a producer of surplus food and find it just too difficult to make it work?

Laura: Once we get our foot in the door, the relationship rarely ends. The hardest part is getting in. Sometimes someone will call us and ask for help, but when we get in the door, senior management isn’t interested. It could be generational. Younger people are more focused on food waste and the environment, so maybe 10 years from now, when the people that are calling me are in more senior positions, things will be different.

It costs us around £50,000 to keep a van rolling each year, but one van can redistribute around £500,000 a year in value. That’s a 10:1 ratio.

 How much surplus food is still out there to be captured?

Laura: Pre-crisis, some weeks we were rescuing 30 tons of food, around 65,000 meals. We just had a 70-ton week, around 150,000 meals. People who come to our West London depot are stunned by the volume of food they see, but it’s just the tip of the iceberg. We’re probably collecting 3% of what’s out there. I think as investors start to ask more questions, changes will be made. But those questions aren’t necessarily being asked as much as they should be.

Is there an ESG or reputational angle here, so in time stakeholders in companies will be asking these sorts of questions much more?

Laura: I think the focus on ESG actually could make a difference. In a couple instances, I have seen a shareholder of a company step in and drive change. And the companies that were influenced really felt good about it afterward; they actually didn’t know there was a solution.

So I’m confident that it will change. The food is there; companies just aren’t being forced to do anything about it at this point. I understand there would be a cost for them to put aside the food, so I’m not minimizing that. But if there’s edible food, it shouldn’t be wasted when thousands of people are going hungry. And when it goes to landfill, it’s so detrimental to the environment.

Let’s talk about the demand side—how you increase awareness so the hungry can find you.

Laura: I think that side of the business benefited from my background as a financial analyst. There was no centralized list of community organizations preparing meals for vulnerable people, so I spent a year researching it. Now, I have a Google map of 1,300 community organizations we could be delivering to. We deliver to 300 and have a waitlist of 200 organizations. Many of these places we deliver to aren’t just simply feeding people; they’re using the food as a tool to bring people in, often to give them other services.

You’ve grown very fast and are in every borough right now. How do you manage that intense growth?

Laura: It’s logistically complicated because we don’t know what food is coming in each day. And the charities have many different dietary requirements and are open different times of day. I wish I could say technology made it all possible—we do have an app that routes our fleet of 14 vans—but it takes a lot of human interactions to make it work each day. We have a logistics team that just sits and tries to figure it out.

What makes it so complicated?

Laura: Our drivers are not just collecting then delivering. The routes go pickup, pickup, delivery, pickup, delivery. We also have ad-hoc calls coming in, sometimes from film shoots, and drivers don’t know how much food is going to be donated at each stop. So they have to make decisions along the way. If they’re going to a charity that helps children, they’ll take the produce from the first donation stop and put it aside so that the children get the ripe fruit and vegetables.

Companies that were making generous donations to food aid in Africa are starting to wake up to the fact that in addition to that problem, there’s a problem in their backyard.

 On what does future growth depend?

Laura: We’ll always be limited by funding because we’re a charity. Vans and paid drivers have to be added to the fleet for us to be able to grow. All in, it costs us around £50,000 to keep a van rolling each year. But we get the food for free, and the charities that get that food can use their food budgets for other essential services. The ripple effect is huge. One van can redistribute around £500,000 a year in value. That’s a 10:1 ratio.

 Could you talk about the funding landscape?

Laura: A couple of years ago, we were dependent on a few private donors. That’s grown, and we’ve had more corporate engagement, like William Blair. Now we’re looking at things like corporate sponsorships for the vans.

Has the current pandemic-related crisis changed the landscape?

 Laura:  There’s tremendous hunger that people don’t know about—a sort of hidden hunger. It’s the working poor—people who have jobs but at the end of the month don’t have money for food. I think this crisis has brought that to light. Companies that were making generous donations to food aid in Africa are starting to wake up to the fact that in addition to that problem, there’s a problem in their backyard.

If you were prime minister for a week, what would you do to help City Harvest?

Laura: A couple of years ago, I would have said the government should stay out of it, but I’ve changed my mind a little. Because there’s so much food surplus, there might have to be some legislation. I think companies have to be more transparent in reporting their food. And there are also subsidies that make it less expensive for companies to send edible and inedible food waste to anaerobic digestion, which disincentivizes food donation.

What might accelerate giving, so every organization that has surplus food donates it?

Laura: Awareness is needed, and I think the current crisis will actually lead to long-lasting change. At the beginning of the crisis, people just wanted to do something. But places with food surplus have found that their employees enjoy giving back; it makes their lives better.

This is what we’ve told food companies all along. For example, the Nando’s chicken donation program came about because Nando’s canvassed its employees and asked, “What can make your life better?” It wasn’t about the environment, and it wasn’t about food waste. Employees said, “Throwing out food is depressing.”




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Illegal Immigrants Leave US Hospitals With Billions In Unpaid Bills

Illegal Immigrants Leave US Hospitals With Billions In Unpaid Bills

By Autumn Spredemann of The Epoch Times

Tens of thousands of illegal…



Illegal Immigrants Leave US Hospitals With Billions In Unpaid Bills

By Autumn Spredemann of The Epoch Times

Tens of thousands of illegal immigrants are flooding into U.S. hospitals for treatment and leaving billions in uncompensated health care costs in their wake.

The House Committee on Homeland Security recently released a report illustrating that from the estimated $451 billion in annual costs stemming from the U.S. border crisis, a significant portion is going to health care for illegal immigrants.

With the majority of the illegal immigrant population lacking any kind of medical insurance, hospitals and government welfare programs such as Medicaid are feeling the weight of these unanticipated costs.

Apprehensions of illegal immigrants at the U.S. border have jumped 48 percent since the record in fiscal year 2021 and nearly tripled since fiscal year 2019, according to Customs and Border Protection data.

Last year broke a new record high for illegal border crossings, surpassing more than 3.2 million apprehensions.

And with that sea of humanity comes the need for health care and, in most cases, the inability to pay for it.

In January, CEO of Denver Health Donna Lynne told reporters that 8,000 illegal immigrants made roughly 20,000 visits to the city’s health system in 2023.

The total bill for uncompensated care costs last year to the system totaled $140 million, said Dane Roper, public information officer for Denver Health. More than $10 million of it was attributed to “care for new immigrants,” he told The Epoch Times.

Though the amount of debt assigned to illegal immigrants is a fraction of the total, uncompensated care costs in the Denver Health system have risen dramatically over the past few years.

The total uncompensated costs in 2020 came to $60 million, Mr. Roper said. In 2022, the number doubled, hitting $120 million.

He also said their city hospitals are treating issues such as “respiratory illnesses, GI [gastro-intenstinal] illnesses, dental disease, and some common chronic illnesses such as asthma and diabetes.”

“The perspective we’ve been trying to emphasize all along is that providing healthcare services for an influx of new immigrants who are unable to pay for their care is adding additional strain to an already significant uncompensated care burden,” Mr. Roper said.

He added this is why a local, state, and federal response to the needs of the new illegal immigrant population is “so important.”

Colorado is far from the only state struggling with a trail of unpaid hospital bills.

EMS medics with the Houston Fire Department transport a Mexican woman the hospital in Houston on Aug. 12, 2020. (John Moore/Getty Images)

Dr. Robert Trenschel, CEO of the Yuma Regional Medical Center situated on the Arizona–Mexico border, said on average, illegal immigrants cost up to three times more in human resources to resolve their cases and provide a safe discharge.

“Some [illegal] migrants come with minor ailments, but many of them come in with significant disease,” Dr. Trenschel said during a congressional hearing last year.

“We’ve had migrant patients on dialysis, cardiac catheterization, and in need of heart surgery. Many are very sick.”

He said many illegal immigrants who enter the country and need medical assistance end up staying in the ICU ward for 60 days or more.

A large portion of the patients are pregnant women who’ve had little to no prenatal treatment. This has resulted in an increase in babies being born that require neonatal care for 30 days or longer.

Dr. Trenschel told The Epoch Times last year that illegal immigrants were overrunning healthcare services in his town, leaving the hospital with $26 million in unpaid medical bills in just 12 months.

ER Duty to Care

The Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act of 1986 requires that public hospitals participating in Medicare “must medically screen all persons seeking emergency care … regardless of payment method or insurance status.”

The numbers are difficult to gauge as the policy position of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is that it “will not require hospital staff to ask patients directly about their citizenship or immigration status.”

In southern California, again close to the border with Mexico, some hospitals are struggling with an influx of illegal immigrants.

American patients are enduring longer wait times for doctor appointments due to a nursing shortage in the state, two health care professionals told The Epoch Times in January.

A health care worker at a hospital in Southern California, who asked not to be named for fear of losing her job, told The Epoch Times that “the entire health care system is just being bombarded” by a steady stream of illegal immigrants.

“Our healthcare system is so overwhelmed, and then add on top of that tuberculosis, COVID-19, and other diseases from all over the world,” she said.

A Salvadorian man is aided by medical workers after cutting his leg while trying to jump on a truck in Matias Romero, Mexico, on Nov. 2, 2018. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

A newly-enacted law in California provides free healthcare for all illegal immigrants residing in the state. The law could cost taxpayers between $3 billion and $6 billion per year, according to recent estimates by state and federal lawmakers.

In New York, where the illegal immigration crisis has manifested most notably beyond the southern border, city and state officials have long been accommodating of illegal immigrants’ healthcare costs.

Since June 2014, when then-mayor Bill de Blasio set up The Task Force on Immigrant Health Care Access, New York City has worked to expand avenues for illegal immigrants to get free health care.

“New York City has a moral duty to ensure that all its residents have meaningful access to needed health care, regardless of their immigration status or ability to pay,” Mr. de Blasio stated in a 2015 report.

The report notes that in 2013, nearly 64 percent of illegal immigrants were uninsured. Since then, tens of thousands of illegal immigrants have settled in the city.

“The uninsured rate for undocumented immigrants is more than three times that of other noncitizens in New York City (20 percent) and more than six times greater than the uninsured rate for the rest of the city (10 percent),” the report states.

The report states that because healthcare providers don’t ask patients about documentation status, the task force lacks “data specific to undocumented patients.”

Some health care providers say a big part of the issue is that without a clear path to insurance or payment for non-emergency services, illegal immigrants are going to the hospital due to a lack of options.

“It’s insane, and it has been for years at this point,” Dana, a Texas emergency room nurse who asked to have her full name omitted, told The Epoch Times.

Working for a major hospital system in the greater Houston area, Dana has seen “a zillion” migrants pass through under her watch with “no end in sight.” She said many who are illegal immigrants arrive with treatable illnesses that require simple antibiotics. “Not a lot of GPs [general practitioners] will see you if you can’t pay and don’t have insurance.”

She said the “undocumented crowd” tends to arrive with a lot of the same conditions. Many find their way to Houston not long after crossing the southern border. Some of the common health issues Dana encounters include dehydration, unhealed fractures, respiratory illnesses, stomach ailments, and pregnancy-related concerns.

“This isn’t a new problem, it’s just worse now,” Dana said.

Emergency room nurses and EMTs tend to patients in hallways at the Houston Methodist The Woodlands Hospital in Houston on Aug. 18, 2021. (Brandon Bell/Getty Images)

Medicaid Factor

One of the main government healthcare resources illegal immigrants use is Medicaid.

All those who don’t qualify for regular Medicaid are eligible for Emergency Medicaid, regardless of immigration status. By doing this, the program helps pay for the cost of uncompensated care bills at qualifying hospitals.

However, some loopholes allow access to the regular Medicaid benefits. “Qualified noncitizens” who haven’t been granted legal status within five years still qualify if they’re listed as a refugee, an asylum seeker, or a Cuban or Haitian national.

Yet the lion’s share of Medicaid usage by illegal immigrants still comes through state-level benefits and emergency medical treatment.

A Congressional report highlighted data from the CMS, which showed total Medicaid costs for “emergency services for undocumented aliens” in fiscal year 2021 surpassed $7 billion, and totaled more than $5 billion in fiscal 2022.

Both years represent a significant spike from the $3 billion in fiscal 2020.

An employee working with Medicaid who asked to be referred to only as Jennifer out of concern for her job, told The Epoch Times that at a state level, it’s easy for an illegal immigrant to access the program benefits.

Jennifer said that when exceptions are sent from states to CMS for approval, “denial is actually super rare. It’s usually always approved.”

She also said it comes as no surprise that many of the states with the highest amount of Medicaid spending are sanctuary states, which tend to have policies and laws that shield illegal immigrants from federal immigration authorities.

Moreover, Jennifer said there are ways for states to get around CMS guidelines. “It’s not easy, but it can and has been done.”

The first generation of illegal immigrants who arrive to the United States tend to be healthy enough to pass any pre-screenings, but Jennifer has observed that the subsequent generations tend to be sicker and require more access to care. If a family is illegally present, they tend to use Emergency Medicaid or nothing at all.

The Epoch Times asked Medicaid Services to provide the most recent data for the total uncompensated care that hospitals have reported. The agency didn’t respond.

Continue reading over at The Epoch Times

Tyler Durden Fri, 03/15/2024 - 09:45

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Fuel poverty in England is probably 2.5 times higher than government statistics show

The top 40% most energy efficient homes aren’t counted as being in fuel poverty, no matter what their bills or income are.




Julian Hochgesang|Unsplash

The cap set on how much UK energy suppliers can charge for domestic gas and electricity is set to fall by 15% from April 1 2024. Despite this, prices remain shockingly high. The average household energy bill in 2023 was £2,592 a year, dwarfing the pre-pandemic average of £1,308 in 2019.

The term “fuel poverty” refers to a household’s ability to afford the energy required to maintain adequate warmth and the use of other essential appliances. Quite how it is measured varies from country to country. In England, the government uses what is known as the low income low energy efficiency (Lilee) indicator.

Since energy costs started rising sharply in 2021, UK households’ spending powers have plummeted. It would be reasonable to assume that these increasingly hostile economic conditions have caused fuel poverty rates to rise.

However, according to the Lilee fuel poverty metric, in England there have only been modest changes in fuel poverty incidence year on year. In fact, government statistics show a slight decrease in the nationwide rate, from 13.2% in 2020 to 13.0% in 2023.

Our recent study suggests that these figures are incorrect. We estimate the rate of fuel poverty in England to be around 2.5 times higher than what the government’s statistics show, because the criteria underpinning the Lilee estimation process leaves out a large number of financially vulnerable households which, in reality, are unable to afford and maintain adequate warmth.

Blocks of flats in London.
Household fuel poverty in England is calculated on the basis of the energy efficiency of the home. Igor Sporynin|Unsplash

Energy security

In 2022, we undertook an in-depth analysis of Lilee fuel poverty in Greater London. First, we combined fuel poverty, housing and employment data to provide an estimate of vulnerable homes which are omitted from Lilee statistics.

We also surveyed 2,886 residents of Greater London about their experiences of fuel poverty during the winter of 2022. We wanted to gauge energy security, which refers to a type of self-reported fuel poverty. Both parts of the study aimed to demonstrate the potential flaws of the Lilee definition.

Introduced in 2019, the Lilee metric considers a household to be “fuel poor” if it meets two criteria. First, after accounting for energy expenses, its income must fall below the poverty line (which is 60% of median income).

Second, the property must have an energy performance certificate (EPC) rating of D–G (the lowest four ratings). The government’s apparent logic for the Lilee metric is to quicken the net-zero transition of the housing sector.

In Sustainable Warmth, the policy paper that defined the Lilee approach, the government says that EPC A–C-rated homes “will not significantly benefit from energy-efficiency measures”. Hence, the focus on fuel poverty in D–G-rated properties.

Generally speaking, EPC A–C-rated homes (those with the highest three ratings) are considered energy efficient, while D–G-rated homes are deemed inefficient. The problem with how Lilee fuel poverty is measured is that the process assumes that EPC A–C-rated homes are too “energy efficient” to be considered fuel poor: the main focus of the fuel poverty assessment is a characteristic of the property, not the occupant’s financial situation.

In other words, by this metric, anyone living in an energy-efficient home cannot be considered to be in fuel poverty, no matter their financial situation. There is an obvious flaw here.

Around 40% of homes in England have an EPC rating of A–C. According to the Lilee definition, none of these homes can or ever will be classed as fuel poor. Even though energy prices are going through the roof, a single-parent household with dependent children whose only income is universal credit (or some other form of benefits) will still not be considered to be living in fuel poverty if their home is rated A-C.

The lack of protection afforded to these households against an extremely volatile energy market is highly concerning.

In our study, we estimate that 4.4% of London’s homes are rated A-C and also financially vulnerable. That is around 171,091 households, which are currently omitted by the Lilee metric but remain highly likely to be unable to afford adequate energy.

In most other European nations, what is known as the 10% indicator is used to gauge fuel poverty. This metric, which was also used in England from the 1990s until the mid 2010s, considers a home to be fuel poor if more than 10% of income is spent on energy. Here, the main focus of the fuel poverty assessment is the occupant’s financial situation, not the property.

Were such alternative fuel poverty metrics to be employed, a significant portion of those 171,091 households in London would almost certainly qualify as fuel poor.

This is confirmed by the findings of our survey. Our data shows that 28.2% of the 2,886 people who responded were “energy insecure”. This includes being unable to afford energy, making involuntary spending trade-offs between food and energy, and falling behind on energy payments.

Worryingly, we found that the rate of energy insecurity in the survey sample is around 2.5 times higher than the official rate of fuel poverty in London (11.5%), as assessed according to the Lilee metric.

It is likely that this figure can be extrapolated for the rest of England. If anything, energy insecurity may be even higher in other regions, given that Londoners tend to have higher-than-average household income.

The UK government is wrongly omitting hundreds of thousands of English households from fuel poverty statistics. Without a more accurate measure, vulnerable households will continue to be overlooked and not get the assistance they desperately need to stay warm.

Torran Semple receives funding from Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) grant EP/S023305/1.

John Harvey does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

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Looking Back At COVID’s Authoritarian Regimes

After having moved from Canada to the United States, partly to be wealthier and partly to be freer (those two are connected, by the way), I was shocked,…



After having moved from Canada to the United States, partly to be wealthier and partly to be freer (those two are connected, by the way), I was shocked, in March 2020, when President Trump and most US governors imposed heavy restrictions on people’s freedom. The purpose, said Trump and his COVID-19 advisers, was to “flatten the curve”: shut down people’s mobility for two weeks so that hospitals could catch up with the expected demand from COVID patients. In her book Silent Invasion, Dr. Deborah Birx, the coordinator of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, admitted that she was scrambling during those two weeks to come up with a reason to extend the lockdowns for much longer. As she put it, “I didn’t have the numbers in front of me yet to make the case for extending it longer, but I had two weeks to get them.” In short, she chose the goal and then tried to find the data to justify the goal. This, by the way, was from someone who, along with her task force colleague Dr. Anthony Fauci, kept talking about the importance of the scientific method. By the end of April 2020, the term “flatten the curve” had all but disappeared from public discussion.

Now that we are four years past that awful time, it makes sense to look back and see whether those heavy restrictions on the lives of people of all ages made sense. I’ll save you the suspense. They didn’t. The damage to the economy was huge. Remember that “the economy” is not a term used to describe a big machine; it’s a shorthand for the trillions of interactions among hundreds of millions of people. The lockdowns and the subsequent federal spending ballooned the budget deficit and consequent federal debt. The effect on children’s learning, not just in school but outside of school, was huge. These effects will be with us for a long time. It’s not as if there wasn’t another way to go. The people who came up with the idea of lockdowns did so on the basis of abstract models that had not been tested. They ignored a model of human behavior, which I’ll call Hayekian, that is tested every day.

These are the opening two paragraphs of my latest Defining Ideas article, “Looking Back at COVID’s Authoritarian Regimes,” Defining Ideas, March 14, 2024.

Another excerpt:

That wasn’t the only uncertainty. My daughter Karen lived in San Francisco and made her living teaching Pilates. San Francisco mayor London Breed shut down all the gyms, and so there went my daughter’s business. (The good news was that she quickly got online and shifted many of her clients to virtual Pilates. But that’s another story.) We tried to see her every six weeks or so, whether that meant our driving up to San Fran or her driving down to Monterey. But were we allowed to drive to see her? In that first month and a half, we simply didn’t know.

Read the whole thing, which is longer than usual.


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