Good morning. As you know, I'm traveling across the Pacific visiting Australia, the Philippines, and Thailand. Hillary and I and our delegation are enjoying the great natural beauty and the warmth and hospitality of the people of this diverse region.
America's involvement and influence here helps to provide the stability, to promote the economic progress, to encourage the cooperation on many fronts, including preserving our natural environment, that benefits all Americans. With partners and friends like the nations I'm visiting, we're going to enter the 21st century stronger than ever.
This is a good trip, but I'm looking forward to returning home in time for Thanksgiving. More than any other holiday, Thanksgiving reminds us of the importance of family and community and the ties that bind us together. As we gather with our families this year to give thanks, we must never forget the duty we owe to those in our American community who are less fortunate than we are.
The Bible tells us that when we harvest, we must not take everything for ourselves but remember to leave something for the poor to glean. Today, those gleanings are the gifts of food we give to those who need them. Across our Nation, in food banks and houses of worship and community groups, thousands of Americans are taking the initiative to fight hunger and feed their neighbors. We must all do our part and support these efforts because not all the needs are met and we plainly can do more. For example, we know that too much food goes to waste. In restaurants, cafeterias, and grocery stores across our country, thousands of pounds of perfectly good, healthy food is thrown out every day, enough to feed 49 million people a year. Recovering that surplus food can make a real difference in the fight against hunger in America.
Our administration has tried to help. This past summer, hundreds of young people from our national service program, AmeriCorps, joined private volunteers to get food to the poor. They worked with farmers in the fields, teaching them how to save excess produce. They worked with the Atlanta Community Food Bank and the Congressional Hunger Center to help recover 174 tons of excess food. All told, this past summer they recovered over a thousand tons of food, providing over a million meals. And every week the U.S. Department of Agriculture's cafeteria in Washington sends another 150 pounds of food to a soup kitchen.
Last October I signed into law the good Samaritan food donation act. This law encourages private businesses, local governments, and ordinary citizens to donate food by protecting them from lawsuits. This can make a real difference. Second Harvest, a national food bank network, estimates that the good Samaritan law will result in approximately 25 million pounds of food next year.
Today we're taking two more steps to help fight hunger. First, I'm directing every department and agency in our administration to actively work to promote food recovery and distribution. From now on, all Federal agencies will recover surplus food from their cafeterias, public events, and other food-service facilities. And they'll work with Government contractors, State and local governments, and private businesses to encourage all citizens to do the same.
The second thing we're doing is to make it easier for private citizens to take steps to help feed the poor. Today we're releasing a new handbook, "The Citizen's Guide to Food Recovery." It will tell you how you can get started, the names of the charities in your area that work to recover food, and the lessons we've already learned in communities all across America. You can call a 1-800 number; it's 1-800- GLEAN-IT—that's 1-800-G-L-E-A-N-I-T—to learn more about food recovery and to get a copy of the Citizen's Guide.
Our Nation has always been a land of plenty. But as blessed as we are, we must never forget that there are those still struggling to take part in America's bounty. Ultimately, all Americans must take responsibility to help our fellow citizens in need. So this Thanksgiving, as we celebrate with our own loved ones, let us remember those who are not so fortunate. By making sure that food does not go to waste, we can make the spirit of Thanksgiving real for literally millions of our people every single day of the year. Thanks for listening, and Happy Thanksgiving.