Last week I was at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., right across the river from New York City. I don’t go to sports stadiums very often. I’m not a professional sports fan, and most concerts I attend are held at smaller venues. But U2 came to Giants Stadium so up the turnpike I went.

One of the first things I noticed as we were walking around before taking our seats was the number of food vendors. Outside every entrance to the seats was a similar set of vendors. One selling hot dogs, one selling pizza, one selling beer, and one selling cookies. As we took a lap around, there were also several cafeteria-style vendors also with more options. That was a lot of food, and I wondered how much of it got wasted at the end of the night.

Imagine my delight when I read on that much of the leftover food from Giants Stadium’s events doesn’t go in the trash. A program called Rock and Wrap It Up gets the food to two soup kitchens in Newark, N.J. The organization was founded 19 years ago by Long Island’s Syd Mandelbaum who started it to get donations into a shelter in Queens. It has since grown across the country.

The leftover food from the U2 concert I attended was shared by Mt. Vernon Missionary Baptist Church on Clinton Avenue and St. Rocco’s Outreach Center on Springfield Avenue in Newark.

Each week Rock and Wrap It Up helps get 100,000 meals into the hands of the hungry all over the country. Those meals are the leftovers “from sporting events, rock concerts, political gatherings, film shoots and television tapings.” Over the course of a year, they serve 5 million meals to the hungry and keep 150 million pounds of food out of landfills. It's done on a budget of only $450,000 a year. That number may look large at first, but when you consider the number of meals provided, it's impressive. Most of the work is done by volunteers.

Congress, the U.S. Conference of Mayors, the Department of Agriculture and the Environmental Protection Agency have all endorsed this smart program. Rock and Wrap it Up gets my endorsement, too.

Leftover food from Giants Stadium is collected for the needy

Robin Shreeves ( @rshreeves ) focuses on food from a family perspective from her home base in New Jersey.

Stadium leftovers feed the hungry
Think those leftover hot dogs from the football games and concerts automatically get thrown in the trash? Think again.