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The Clinton administration has some advice for people who find themselves with too much holiday food to eat themselves: Donate it, don't dump it.

In a visit to a soup kitchen and in guidelines the Agriculture Department is issuing today, President Clinton is urging Americans to stop the "appalling" habit of throwing out 96 billion pounds of food each year -- more than enough to feed all of the nation's hungry people.

"In every community, civic-minded people ought to take an inventory of how much food is being wasted, where it is, how to gather it up, how to give it to the churches, the synagogues, the mosques, whoever else has a homeless mission that will take care of that food and get it out," Clinton said Wednesday during a visit to the D.C. Central Kitchen.

The president said wasted food ranges from slightly bruised fruit to uneaten trays of lasagna at restaurants. In 1996, he signed a law that gives some legal protection to companies, individuals and shelters that donate and redistribute surplus food.

Still, Americans continue to trash one-quarter of their food supply every day, which also needlessly adds to environmental waste, Clinton and other administration officials say.

Donning an apron to help kitchen workers stuff bell peppers, Clinton hinted at other issues weighing on his mind these days.

"I've got to learn some new skills," he said, tongue in cheek, as he slipped a tray of peppers into an oven. "I'm too young to retire."

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