Food Rescue Group Receives Second CalRecycle Grant
CalRecycle has awarded $266,795 to the Kern County Public Health Services Department to expand its Waste Hunger Not Food program, which collects unserved food from local schools and restaurants and distributes it in local neighborhoods.
The funds will be used for a refrigerated box truck and walk-in refrigeration to store food safely. The box trucks will allow Kern County to partner with food donors that donate food in large quantities. Since Waste Hunger Not Food launched in September 2018, the group has rescued more than 304,600 pounds of food.
CalRecycle’s Food Waste Prevention and Rescue Grant Program aims to reduce methane emissions by keeping edible food out of California landfills and redistributing it to the 1 in 8 Californians (including 1 in 5 children) who are food-insecure. Many of these families live in disadvantaged communities, which means they have a disproportionate exposure to pollution and less access to healthy food.
Kern County partners with City Serve, a local nonprofit that brings churches together to serve the community. Waste Hunger Not Food uses refrigerated trucks to collect food from restaurants and schools and quickly deliver it to churches that have been trained in food safety best practices.
Churches are often located within residential neighborhoods, making it easy and convenient for volunteers to distribute the food. Some church volunteers simply carry signs through the neighborhoods that say “Free Food,” and word of mouth travels quickly. City Serve churches distribute food with no restrictions on how much food people can take.
This is the second grant CalRecycle has awarded to Kern County for the Waste Hunger Not Food program. The first grant for $191,963 was awarded in fiscal year 2016-17 and enabled the county to buy several refrigerated trucks to collect and transport donated food to distribute to the needy.
The Waste Hunger Not Food mission aligns with the goals outlined in SB 1383, which requires California to reduce the disposal of organic waste (like food and yard waste) and divert at least 20 percent of edible food to food rescue organizations. Although SB 1383 regulations don’t go into effect until Jan. 1, 2022, the program is giving schools and businesses a head start on compliance by donating edible food they would otherwise send to a landfill.