Anyone who has ever worked in catering has witnessed the end-of-the-night spoils that characterize an extravagant event: extra foie gras, bits of brie, scraps of steak tenderloin. In fact, about 95 billion pounds of uneaten food ends up in US landfills every year. It was this disparity that prompted Brooklyn native Syd Mandelbaum to create Rock and Wrap It Up! The nonprofit “green-achieving organization” collects leftover food from 150 performers at venues across the nation and donates it to more than 43,000 soup kitchens and homeless shelters in 500 US cities. Artists who contribute to Rock and Wrap It Up! include Bruce Springsteen, Christina Aguilera, and Aerosmith. Twenty-five sports franchises and several school cafeterias have also recently joined the effort.

More than 25 million pounds of food have been salvaged so far, and with hopes to donate meals from federal galas and military bases, the 18-year-old organization is poised to generate even greater savings. “The less food that goes into a landfill,” says Mandelbaum, “the more of it goes to people who need it.”

Story by James Sherwin. This article originally appeared in Plenty in February 2008. This story was added to

Copyright Environ Press 2008