Answered by Ustadh Tabraze Azam
Question: At many gatherings and community events, it is easy to notice that many people take more than their needed serving of food. As a result, most of us end up not eating everything on our plate and throwing it in the trash.
For those who volunteers at these events, what are some precautionary events to take to prevent this? Also, what do we do after the party is over and we find cookies with bites taken out of them, naan with pieces missing, etc. Is composting a good idea? Should we ourselves just eat them later?
Answer: Wa alaikum assalam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,
I pray that you are in the best of health and faith, insha’Allah.
The sunna is in moderation, and wastefulness is contrary to it.
In general, being a generous host would entail that you order more food than reasonably necessary, but with suitable arrangements for handling the leftovers. This would be from true religious concern and closer to the Prophetic sunna.
Please see here for an article on the sunnas of eating: What Are Some of the Sunnahs of Eating?
In general, the scholars explain that wastefulness has three levels:
 Slight waste (leaving a small amount of food on the plate) is improper,
 Wastefulness (leaving a considerable amount of food on the plate) is disliked, and
 Excessive waste (leaving most of a plate of food) is sinful.
This is with the condition that the person put the food in their plate of their own accord. Otherwise, the blame would be on the person who put it in the plate.
What to do with Extra Food
At the end of the event, the organizers should take the means to separate food into: food that can still be eaten, and food that cannot.
In this, you should use your reasonable judgement. If the food can be made presentable (e.g. making a smaller piece out of a part-eaten kebab), then you should take the means to make it so. Thereafter, it can be packed and given to attendees, organizers, and even the homeless and needy, either directly or through a local foodbank.
As for food that cannot be made presentable or cannot be eaten (remaining pieces of bread and biscuits) for whatever reason, leave what you can for animals or insects, and the rest can be disposed of without blame, insha’Allah.
Please also see: Getting Rid of Spoiled Food
And Allah alone gives success.
Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani