Food Waste Reduction

Food for People's Local Store Food Recovery

Food for People Partners on CalRecycle Grant.

Food waste is an important issue facing the country. Forty percent of food produced in the United States goes to waste, either ending up in a landfill or left to rot in the field. Yet, 40 million Americans struggle with hunger, according to Feeding America. With greenhouse gas emissions being a major environmental concern and hunger an increasing issue for many community members, now is the time to act. This is why Food for People recently partnered with the cities of Arcata and Eureka, and Humboldt State University on a grant proposal to reduce food waste in Humboldt County.

In May of this year, a grand total of $163,657 was awarded to the group, part of a $11 million distribution by CalRecycle to 36 entities through its Food Waste Prevention and Rescue Grant Program. The goal of this program is to reduce food waste and help feed food-insecure Californians.

"Edible food disposal is a humanitarian tragedy and a tremendous waste of California's resources," CalRecycle Director Scott Smithline said in a statement. "These local food waste prevention and rescue programs make our communities healthier and help California combat climate change."

Food for People already works with local grocery, pharmacy, health food stores, and wholesalers and producers, to divert food to us that would otherwise go to waste. As part of our Local Store Food Recovery Program, Food for People's driver travels to stores on a daily basis to pick-up excess food and deliver it to Food for People, where it is sorted and distributed to those in need. In the last few years, these efforts brought between 336,000 and half a million pounds of food to the food bank annually, saving local businesses up to $40,000 in annual waste fees.

The purpose of the funds awarded by CalRecycle is to help educate the public about new projects aimed at reducing food waste, to minimize the amount of food that goes to landfills, and divert edible food currently going to waste to those in need. Food rescue efforts will be expanded to businesses in the food service industry, local institutions, and grocery stores that do not currently donate excess food. Efforts will include a general and targeted education and outreach program, handson engagement, expanded cold storage capacity and increased food donation pickups and distribution.

At Food for People's Choice Pantry, we installed new energy-efficient refrigeration and freezers with glass doors. Not only will the equipment emit fewer emissions, less power will go to waste as people can deliberate and select the foods they would like without letting out excess cold air. In addition, we are working with a newly-hired Grocery Store Liaison to take the lead in contacting and asking local stores to donate edible food to the Food Bank. 

Food waste and food insecurity are complex, yet vital issues to tackle. We are excited by the opportunities this new partnership will offer and hope our efforts and the support of the community will help take marked steps towards addressing the issue.