Listed below are recent posts across all of CalRecyle's blogs.

  • California Hunger Doubles During COVID-19 As a New Climate Law Directs Surplus Food to Families

    Lines of cars snaked around The Forum arena and all the way around the block in Los Angeles, California, Friday, April 10, to pick up groceries being handed out by a food bank. By Voice of America/KABC

    Lines of cars snaked around The Forum arena and all the way around the block in Los Angeles, California, Friday, April 10, to pick up groceries being handed out by a food bank. By Voice of America/KABC

    Hunger in California has doubled, and in some counties has tripled, since the state’s Stay-At-Home order went into effect, according to the California Association of Food Banks. A little-known climate law will soon direct supermarkets, food wholesalers, and other food businesses to send millions of meals to local food rescue organizations instead of dumping surplus food in landfills.

    The law’s new requirements come at a crisis moment for the state. “We’ve seen up to three times as many people showing up at our food banks since the coronavirus pandemic first began and overall hunger in the state has gone up 113 percent,” said Communications Director of the Association of Food Banks Lauren Lathan Reid. 
     
    Demand for Donated Food Has Recently Skyrocketed
     
    In communities across the state, the overwhelming demand translates to miles-long lines of cars of cars filled with thousands of people waiting to enter food banks or make their way through pop up, drive-through food distribution lines.
     
    Lathan Reid said the hardest-hit counties include Marin, Mono, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, and Sonoma, where food insecurity has tripled since the start of the pandemic. Hunger in Alameda, Los Angeles, and Santa Clara has increased more than 150 percent. 
     
    Cities and counties can help meet this historic surge in demand by proactively implementing local programs to meet the new statewide requirements, which include:
    • Requiring supermarkets, grocery stores, food service providers, food distributors, and food wholesaler vendors to donate their otherwise wasted food to neighbors in need starting January 1, 2022. 
    • Requiring restaurants of a certain size, hotels, health facilities, large venues and events, state agencies with cafeterias, and K-12 schools to donate otherwise wasted food to neighbors in need starting January 1, 2024.
     
    Food bank demand has skyrocketed in California. By Food Forward
    Food bank demand has skyrocketed as twice as many Californians go hungry. By Food Forward 
     
    Lowering Climate Pollutants by Feeding Californians in Need
     
    As the public demand for government to take on climate change grew, Governor Jerry Brown signed SB 1383 (Lara, Chapter 395, Statutes of 2016), a law designed to lower climate super pollutants. The legislation aimed to curtail landfill methane emissions by reducing the amount of food, yard waste, and other organic waste landfilled in California each year. A component of the landmark legislation will redirect good food that is currently being thrown away to Californians who do not have enough to eat. 
     
    “Before COVID-19, one out of every eight Californians and one out of every five children didn’t have enough food to eat,” said Martine Boswell, a CalRecycle environmental scientist who advises communities and businesses on food waste prevention, edible food recovery, and overall food waste management. “That number has now gone up. At the same time that people are going hungry, hundreds of thousands of tons of edible food is annually thrown into the trash and ending up in landfills.”
     
    Methane from landfilled food is one of the top climate super pollutants in the state.  By Food Forward
    Methane from landfilled food is one of the top climate super pollutants in the state.  By Food Forward
     
    Organics Make Up Two-Thirds of Trash Dumped in Landfills
     
    In California, organic waste makes up about two-thirds of what we landfill each year. As these materials decompose without enough oxygen, they create methane, a heat-trapping gas more than 70 times more potent than carbon dioxide, and a major contributor to ground-level ozone and global climate change. 
     
    To reduce landfill methane emissions, SB 1383 requires a 75 percent reduction in organic waste disposal by 2025, as well as actions to ensure 20 percent of currently disposed edible food is redirected to Californians in need. 
     
    The term “edible food” means food intended for human consumption, but it must also meet the food safety requirements of the California Retail Code. 
     
    “This is one-of-a-kind legislation,” said CalRecycle Environmental Program Manager Kyle Pogue. “No other state or country has required this level of food rescue.” 
     
    California Needs Additional Space and Transportation to Rescue More Food
     
    Meeting the edible food rescue requirement of SB 1383 will require California to increase capacity with the state's food recovery network of food banks, pantries, soup kitchens and other food rescue organizations. Funding helps these groups save more food by growing their capacity to collect, transport, store, and distribute more meals to those in need.
     
    By Food Forward
    By Food Forward 
     
    60 Food Recovery Grants Will Bring Millions More Meals to Californians Statewide 
     
    In the last couple of years, CalRecycle has awarded money to more than 60 food recovery projects all over the state through a series of grants. 
     
    “Supporting food rescue programs in California helps provide jobs and nourish communities by giving them the food they need to survive and thrive,” said Boswell. 
     
    CalRecycle’s Food Waste Prevention and Rescue Grant Program is part of California Climate Investments, a statewide initiative that puts billions of Cap-and-Trade dollars to work:
    • Reducing greenhouse gas emissions
    • Strengthening the economy
    • Improving public health and the environment—particularly in disadvantaged communities. 
     
    The program helps organizations establish or expand food rescue and food waste prevention projects to reduce the amount of food being disposed in landfills.
     
    Click here to learn more about CalRecycle’s Food Waste Prevention and Rescue Grant Program recipients from across the state, including Food Forward, an innovative Southern California non-profit food rescue group that helps serve an additional 5 million meals a year thanks to their CalRecycle grant project.
     
     
    Posted on In the Loop by Linda Mumma on Jul 7, 2020

  • CalRecycle Funds Six New School Food Pantries to Feed Children in Need

    Since 2013, San Diego’s White Pony Express Food Bank has supplied 9 million pounds of food to Californians who don’t get enough to eat. During the COVID-19 shelter-in-place order they have more than doubled how much food they give out to the cars lining up for donations. This non-profit will add at least six new school pantries that feed children with grant funding from CalRecycle.

    The Department supports food bank programs that lower the food waste sent to landfills by sending edible, unused food to the one in eight Californians who don’t know where they will get their next meal. Organic waste makes up two-thirds of the trash that fills our landfills. It also releases methane, a greenhouse gas 70 times more potent than carbon dioxide when it breaks down in landfills. By lowering food waste, we can provide food for those going hungry, while fighting a primary super pollutant that contributes to the devastating effects of climate change like wildfires and droughts.

     

     

     

     

    Posted on In the Loop by Syd Fong and Maria West on May 19, 2020

  • Composting Recalled Lettuce from E. Coli Outbreak

     

    Lettuce growing in compost

     

    Following a nationwide E. coli outbreak, recalled lettuce grown throughout the Salinas Valley is making its way back into the ground as compost, thanks to a California Climate Investment from CalRecycle. A new composting facility in Salinas has already started accepting more than 50 tons of the of the potentially tainted produce, according to the Salinas Valley Solid Waste Authority (Salinas Authority).

    “It’s stretching our daily processing capacity,” Salinas Authority General Manager Patrick Mathews told United Press International. “It’s coming in by the truckloads.”

    E. coli Outbreak Linked to Lettuce

    In November, the Centers for Disease Control warned consumers not to eat romaine lettuce grown in California’s Salinas Valley after an E. coli outbreak sickened nearly 70 people in 19 states. The CDC, the Food and Drug Administration, and health authorities from various states continue to investigate the exact source of the strain while encouraging residents, restaurants, retailers, suppliers, and distributors to remove the product from their refrigerators, shelves, and distribution chains.

    When sent to landfills, lettuce and other organic waste decomposes and generates methane, a short-lived climate pollutant 70 times more potent than carbon dioxide. Methane is emitted when organic material is buried and decomposes anaerobically, or without oxygen. The U.S. Composting Coalition encourages consumers and businesses to compost the recalled produce instead. The aeration of material in the composting process results in a different chemical reaction, producing far less damaging emissions.

    “Industrial-scale composting … achieves the temperatures and holding times to eliminate human pathogens (like E. coli),” notes U.S. Composting Coalition Executive Director Frank Franciosi. “While you don't want to eat the romaine lettuce, there is no reason to put it in a landfill where it will generate methane, a significant greenhouse gas, and cause global climate change.”

    CalRecycle’s Climate Change Funds for Composting
    Reduce Greenhouse Gases in the Air

    Salinas Compost Facility

     

    With the help of a recent $1.3 million California Climate Investment grant awarded by CalRecycle, the Salinas Authority constructed an aerated static pile compost facility at the Johnson Canyon landfill in Monterey County. Formerly, wood and green materials were chipped at a landfill and shipped as mulch or to a biofuel facility, while food was disposed of in the landfill. The Salinas Authority built its new, fully permitted composting facility this summer. In the fall it began turning green materials and food into compost. The Salinas Authority estimated it would compost 132,000 tons of food and green waste by 2026.

    Compost increases soil carbon content and increases its moisture-holding capacity, enabling it to literally pull CO2 out of the air. California law mandates composting facilities process materials at temperatures high enough to kill E. coli and other pathogens.

    Funding Available for Organic Waste Recycling

     

    Salinas Compost Facility under construction

     

    CalRecycle’s Organics Grant program is part of California Climate Investments, a statewide program that puts billions of Cap-and-Trade dollars to work reducing greenhouse gas emissions, strengthening the economy, and improving human health and the environment—particularly in disadvantaged communities.

    Learn more about CalRecycle’s funding opportunities at calrecycle.ca.gov/funding. You can also subscribe to CalRecycle’s Greenhouse Gas Reduction Grant and Loan Programs Listserv.

    Posted on In the Loop by Lance Klug on Dec 5, 2019