Pope Francis has denounced what he calls a “culture of waste” and has likened throwing away good food to “stealing from the table of the poor and hungry.”
Speaking to his weekly audience in St Peter’s Square, on Wednesday, the pontiff made reference to the United Nations World Environment Day, as he spoke of the excesses of food wastage.
He said: “This culture of waste has made us insensitive even to the waste and disposal of food, which is even more despicable when all over the world, unfortunately, many individuals and families are suffering from hunger and malnutrition.
Pope Francis says wasting food is tantamount to 'stealing from the table of the poor and hungry'
“Once our grandparents were very careful not to throw away any leftover food. Consumerism has led us to become used to an excess and daily waste of food, to which, at times we are no longer able to give a just value.
“Throwing away food is like stealing from the table of the poor and the hungry."
According to the United Nations Environment Programme, roughly one third of the food produced in the world for human consumption every year – approximately 1.3billion tonnes – gets lost or wasted.
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It adds the amount of food lost or wasted every year is equivalent to more than half of the world’s annual cereals crop (which amounted to 2.3billion tonnes in 2009/2010).
In May the Pope appealed to Catholics to do more to seek out those on the fringes of society.
Speaking in St Peter’s square, he said: “If we step outside of ourselves, we will find poverty," Reuters reported.
"Today, and it breaks my heart to say it, finding a homeless person who has died of cold, is not news. Today, the news is scandals, that is news, but the many children who don't have food - that's not news. This is grave. We can't rest easy while things are this way."