BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Hundreds of thousands of pounds of food are wasted each year in Maryland. Expiring meats used to be tossed out, but not anymore. A major area supermarket has teamed up with food pantries to feed those in need.

Tracey Leong explains how the plan to help hunger works.

It’s all part of Giant’s “Meat the Needs’ initiative. The supermarket is sending packaged meats to local food banks instead of being tossed in the trash.

Feeding the fight against hunger and reducing waste across Maryland.

“Instead of this product going into a landfill or being recycled through a meat rendering program, we’re actually able to feed people,” said Terry McGowan, director of food safety, Giant Food.

Giant’s Meat the Needs program diverts more than 1 million pounds of food from being wasted each year.

Every week, Giant pulls meat that hasn’t been sold and falls within the freshness code for consumption and freezes it for local food banks.

“It means that we have more food coming in the door and means we’re getting more food across the state to people who need it,” said Beth Martino, CEO, Maryland Food Bank.

Giant’s partnership with the Maryland Food Bank provided 20 millions servings of meat to families in need last year.

Non-perishable items — like canned and dried good — are typically more plentiful at food banks, so adding critical proteins — like beef, chicken and pork — offer families a balanced diet.

“It’s one of the most expensive things for people to purchase, and so having the ability to get that donated from a partner like Giant is terrific for us,” said Martino.

Some 750,000 people in Maryland do not have access to affordable nutritious food. Giant’s program helps to secure those meals — an invaluable partnership with food banks to end hunger.

“We do it because it’s the right thing to do for our communities,” said McGowan.

Giant has been supplying meat to food pantries since 2013. By the end of May, all 169 of its Maryland stores will join the program.

The Maryland Food Bank is always looking for donations, especially this time of year.

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