"Our grandparents used to make a point of not throwing away leftover food. Consumerism has made us accustomed to wasting food daily and we are unable to see its real value," said Pope Francis in comments during his weekly address at St. Peter's Square in Vatican City. "Throwing away food is like stealing from those who are poor and hungry."

The Pope's statements echoed the findings of "Reducing Food Loss and Waste," a new study from the United Nations that found that tons of edible food products are squandered each year. According to the study, 32 percent of all food produced in the world was lost or wasted in 2009, which means that about one out of every four calories intended for people is not actually consumed.

"It is an extraordinary fact that in the 21st century, close to 25 per cent of all the calories linked with growing and producing food are lost or wasted between the farm and the fork-food that could feed the hungry, food that has required energy, water and soils in a world of increasing natural resource scarcities and environmental concerns including climate change," said Achim Steiner, UN Environmental Program Executive Director.

In the United States, diners at restaurants wasted about nine percent of the meals they bought. The study attributes this waste to the size of U.S. drink and meal portions.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Evironmental Protection Agency announced Tuesday, in alignment with the Pope's comments and the findings of the study, that they would join forces for a food recovery challenge. The challenge would call on everyone — grocers, consumers, processors, universities, sports stadiums and government agencies — to reduce food waste.

"Food waste is the single largest type of waste entering our landfills — Americans throw away up to 40 percent of their food," acting EPA administrator Bob Perciasepe said in a statement. "Addressing this issue not only helps with combating hunger and saving money, but also with combating climate change: food in landfills decomposes to create potent greenhouse gases."

Yesterday was the United Nations' World Environment Day (WED), an annual event aimed at celebrating "positive environmental interaction." As part of the event, the UN released the results of the study and offered solutions to stop waste.

"By reducing food waste, we can save money and resources, minimize environmental impacts and, most importantly, move towards a world where everyone has enough to eat," UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said in his message for the event.