MARYVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Ever wonder what happens to groceries that people don’t buy, or leftover food from restaurants they can’t serve anymore? It could be going to the Second Harvest Food Bank of East Tennessee for the non-profit’s Food Rescue Program.

“Food waste is a huge problem in this country. There’s plenty of food to feed all of us, but it’s just not getting to the right places at the right time,” Madison Harmon, Second Harvest’s Digital Media Coordinator, said.

According to Feeding America, 72 billion pounds of food goes to waste while 37 million Americans struggle with hunger. Second Harvest and Feeding America try to eliminate waste by feeding people in need.

“Say an Italian restaurant had a lot of pasta left over, our food rescue guy will come in, pick that up, take that directly to an agency and often times, that agency will do kind of a hot lunch for the day while their folks are there to get their other food, they’re now able to get a warm meal with it,” Harmon said.

Harmon said they also work with farmers and grocery stores. “We are able to get fresh fruit, vegetables, meat or dairy; the really expensive products at the grocery store, we’re able to really get those and bring those to who need it the most.”

Harmon said they also try to waste as little time as possible when getting that food out to the people who need it. Second Harvest has refrigerated trucks on the road just about every day transporting those goods from the stores or restaurants to local agencies.

“Makes no sense for us to bring it all the way back here to our warehouse just to turn it right about around to get it out. So, we want to make sure that if it is about to go bad or if it needs to be consumed quickly, that we’re making sure that our agencies are taking care of that,” Harmon said.

Nexstar Media Group is teaming up with Feeding America to bring awareness and help end food insecurity during September, which is Hunger Action Month. Feeding America is the nation’s largest domestic hunger-relief organization. It’s a nationwide network with 200 food banks and 60,000 community partners coast to coast.