SAN DIEGO – Feeding San Diego, the county’s leading hunger relief and food rescue organization, will be working with a new type of food donor this new year: large-scale businesses that serve up massive quantities of purchased and prepared foods.
As outlined by Senate Bill 1383, California’s Short-Lived Climate Pollutant Reduction Law, which first went into effect for Tier 1 businesses Jan. 1, 2022, as of Monday, Jan. 1, 2024, the following businesses must donate edible surplus food to food recovery organizations like Feeding San Diego: hotels, restaurants more than 5,000 square feet or with 250+ seats, health facilities with onsite food facilities and 100+ beds, state agency cafeterias, local education agencies and large venues and events. California is just one of a handful of states across the country that has passed legislation to curb food waste to mitigate climate change.
According to the California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery, the agency responsible for enforcing the law, landfills are the third largest source of methane in California. Organic waste in landfills emits 20% of the state’s methane, a climate super pollutant 84 times more potent than carbon dioxide. By including these larger scale businesses in the law, a new type of food will now be included in food donations: prepared foods.
Feeding San Diego already works with the San Diego Zoo and Hotel Del Coronado to collect surplus prepared food following strict food safety standards and will continue to have conversations with additional food donors that fall under Tier 2.
“SB 1383 is an important step forward for hunger relief organizations working to support people in bringing meals home. It recognizes the Feeding San Diego model as being viable,” Patty O’Connor, chief operations officer at Feeding San Diego, said. “Our team has been working on the ground to understand how best to work with local businesses to get them in compliance. We will continue to build our capacity to be able to take in food donations from this new group of businesses. Our organization needs all the surplus edible food available to redistribute to people experiencing hunger across the county.”
Since the rollout of Tier 1, Feeding San Diego has onboarded more than 70 new food donors. The nonprofit has long standing existing relationships with big box stores including Costco, Sprouts, Smart & Final and Ralphs to rescue their excess food. The 70 new food donors included smaller, regional stores like La Bodega and La Bodeguita, Manolo Farmers Markets, Apple Tree Markets and more. Currently, Feeding San Diego has written agreements with over 85 food donors as part of SB 1383.
Feeding San Diego has long prioritized food rescue to source the food that’s distributed out into the community. In its last fiscal year, 76% of the food distributed was rescued from local food donors and distributed throughout the community to people in need of food assistance. While food rescue plays an important role in the organization’s business model, there is still a need for purchased food to meet the need. Since its founding in 2007, the nonprofit has worked with both local and national businesses, including grocers and food distributors, to rescue food that would otherwise end up in the landfill. As a partner food bank of Feeding America, Feeding San Diego has infrastructure in place to accept food donations from national food donors. Food rescue is powered by MealConnect, a technology platform that allows food donors and community partners to easily track pounds of food donated or received and coordinate pickups.
California has a goal to redirect 20% of edible food currently thrown away to people in need by 2025.
Submitted by Feeding San Diego.