State climate funds will bring 20 million meals to Californians in need

Office of Public Affairs
For Immediate Release: May 19, 2021
News Release #2021-04
Media Contact: Office of Public Affairs, Linda Mumma
916-323-0835 |

$3.5 million for surplus food rescue will slash climate super pollutants

SACRAMENTO – More help is on the way for the nearly 1 in 4 Californians left hungry by the COVID-19 economic downturn. As part of California’s fight against the climate crisis, California announced $3.5 million to 12 local projects that reduce climate super pollutants by redirecting still-fresh, surplus food to Californians who need it most.

Landfilled food accelerates climate change

Food Waste Prevention and Rescue Grants use Cap and Trade proceeds to fund infrastructure that will turn fresh food that would otherwise be thrown away into millions of meals for Californians who desperately need them. Keeping this fresh food out of landfills is a huge boon to the fight against climate change. The 11 billion pounds of food Californians throw away each year emit significant amounts of methane when rotting in landfills. Methane is a top climate super pollutant 84 times more potent than carbon.

“Getting business’s surplus food to Californians who don’t have enough to eat just makes sense,” California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) Director Rachel Machi Wagoner said. “These funds will provide millions of meals to Californians who need them most and create new jobs, all while fighting climate change.”

A new climate law will grow food donation and food rescue programs

California’s Short-Lived Climate Pollutant Reduction law (SB 1383, Lara, Chapter 395, Statutes of 2016) requires California by 2025 to recover 20 percent of edible food otherwise sent to landfills to feed people in need. To reach this target:

  • Cities and counties must establish food recovery programs and strengthen their existing food recovery networks.
  • Food businesses and events, like grocery stores, food distributors, and wholesale food vendors, must arrange to donate the maximum amount possible of the still-fresh-food that they would have sent to landfills.

The awarded funds will create more infrastructure statewide to meet the goals of this law.

Local projects feed Californians, create jobs, prevent landfill climate pollution

Awarded projects aim to keep more than 152 million pounds of still-fresh-food out of California landfills by preventing waste and increasing local capacity to collect, transport, store, and distribute more business and community food donations. Grant projects are expected to create up to 24 new jobs and reduce climate pollution by 134,951 MTCO2e – equal to taking more than 29,000 cars off the road for a year.

RecipientCountyProject DescriptionMeals Rescued or Food Waste Prevented*Award
Community Environmental CouncilSanta BarbaraPurchase a refrigerated box truck for Veggie Rescue and buy two refrigerators and a freezer for St. Mark’s In-the-Valley Episcopal Church to expand the county’s food rescue program. Hire a full-time outreach coordinator to maximize
300,000 meals$277,932
Food ForwardLos AngelesPurchase new food tracking software and hire three additional staff at the Produce Pit Stop warehouse in Bell, Calif. to increase recovery of wholesale produce. 8.9M meals $300,000
F.O.O.D. Share, Inc.  VenturaPurchase a refrigerated box truck and hire a full-time driver to increase food recovery and distribution through the Food Share Food Bank in Ventura County. Hire a food sourcing coordinator to establish new collection programs and support
190,000 meals $300,000

Fresno Metropolitan Ministry


Partnering with Central Calif. Food Bank (CCFB)

FresnoIncrease access to healthy food in Fresno, Madera, Kings, Tulare, and Kern counties by hiring two new drivers and adding 20 food recovery school sites, five new community food distribution sites, six urban gleaning sites and two new retail
locations to Metro’s Food to Share network. Hire a retail rescue coordinator to increase food recovery capacity and add donors to CCFB’s food rescue program.
2.6M meals$300,000
Helping Hand WorldwideOrange / San Diego  Hire a full-time food recovery coordinator and part-time driver to boost retail food rescue and purchase a refrigerated box truck and other equipment to increase food distribution at 27 community organizations that serve over 11,000 low-income
seniors, families and students in Orange and San Diego counties.
125,000 meals$270,663
Hollywood Food CoalitionLos AngelesPurchase a refrigerated box truck and hire a warehouse coordinator and support staff to expand the Community Exchange food sharing program to increase the recovery and distribution of rescued food.3.2M meals$300,000
ReFED, Inc. StatewideRecruit communities, food retailers and their supply chain partners to join a public-private partnership with ReFED, World Wildlife Fund and Cascadia Policy Solutions and agree to measurable systematic reforms to prevent or reduce food waste.
Funds also support the implementation of food waste prevention actions with technical assistance and the development of implementation tools and resources.
128M lbs. of food waste prevented$247,746
Second Harvest of Silicon ValleySanta ClaraPurchase a large truck and hire a full-time Class A driver to increase recovery of local food donations for distribution to hungry and low income county residents.889,583 meals$300,000
Sonoma County Waste Management Agency

Partnering with the Conservation Corps North Bay (CCNB)
SonomaPurchase a refrigerated box truck and equipment, create two new food rescue positions for CCNB staff/members to increase food rescue and distribution services in Sonoma County. Provide experience and training for CCNB to become an independently
operated food recovery service.
587,666 meals$300,000
St. Francis Center Los AngelesPurchase refrigerated box truck and equipment, support food bank manager position to double food donation recovery and distribution to homeless and low-income families. 1M meals $300,000
White Pony 
Contra CostaFund the Neighbors Helping Neighbors (NHN) program manager position and purchase supplies and software to increase local food recovery and distribution by NHN community volunteers.803,814 meals$300,000
Yolo Food BankYoloPurchase two box trucks and equipment to support local grocery store, wholesaler and related food business compliance with upcoming surplus food donation requirements under SB 1383.1.5M meals$300,000
Total20M meals rescued
128M lbs. of food waste prevented

*Projections based on U.S. Department of Agriculture estimate of 1.2 pounds per average meal.

Feeding Californians, Fighting Climate Change

Since 2016, CalRecycle has awarded $20 million to 64 local Food Waste Prevention and Rescue projects, resulting in 115 million meals and more than 345 local jobs.

  • Eligible applicants for CalRecycle’s Food Waste Prevention and Rescue Grant Program include cities, counties, and other local agencies; businesses; California universities and colleges; nonprofit organizations; and qualifying Indian Tribes. Applicants may submit cooperative or regional applications with no more than four participants to achieve food recovery projections.
  • Subscribe to CalRecycle’s greenhouse gas reduction grant and loan programs listserv.

Governor Gavin Newsom has proposed $5 million more in his 2021-22 budget proposal for food rescue groups to connect more surplus food from businesses to those in need.

For more information contact, the Office of Public Affairs,

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CalRecycle provides oversight of California solid waste handling and recycling programs to protect human health, develop sustainable solutions that conserve resources, and reduce greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change.