State announces grant awards that "fights climate change by feeding the hungry"

CalRecycle issued 31 grants totaling $9.4 million which will go to projects that reduce the amount of edible food sent to landfills and feed people in need. CalRecycle’s Food Waste Prevention and Rescue Grant Program is made possible due to the allocation of funding from the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund decided on each year by the state Legislature.

In a press release, CalRecycle Director Scott Smithline said, "bolstering California’s food recovery infrastructure will help feed communities in need, create new jobs, and result in significant greenhouse gas reductions”. The projects are estimated to decrease an estimated 6 million tons of food waste landfilled in California each year.

One of the grant awardees, San Diego Food Systems Alliance, announced in a press release, "This grant will support the Smart Kitchens San Diego project, in partnership with Jacobs & Cushman San Diego Food Bank and LeanPath, Inc. to provide tools and technical assistance for selected large food production facilities to effectively reduce food waste and donate edible food." Barbara Hamilton, Director of Strategic Initiatives of San Diego Food System Alliance, said,  “Although there is plenty of good food in San Diego county that could be donated to hungry people, non-profit food recovery agencies often lack sufficient transportation and manpower to collect the food”. The Smart Kitchens San Diego project funded with the grant will provide transportation vehicles, refrigeration, and support to facilitate food donation.

LA Sanitation announced in a press release that many of their partner organizations were among the grant awardees, "Several of the organizations working with recycLA service providers have been selected by CalRecycle to receive grants to continue their work in reducing food waste, including Food Finders, Food Forward, LA Kitchen, and St. Francis Center." LA Sanitation Director and General Manager Enrique C. Zaldivar stated, "While recycling will help our City move towards achieving zero waste, food waste also plays a critical role in reducing our dependence on landfills and tackling food insecurity. In cooperation with these organizations, we are on the pathway to getting food to those who really need it most and to reducing the City's dependence on landfills."

The Food Waste Prevention and Rescue grant program isn't the only program from CalRecycle that food rescue groups can benefit from. They can also choose to partner with organic waste recycling projects that are eligible for the Organics Grant Program, which is a highly competitive grant program that prioritizes projects with a food waste prevention or rescue element. The role that food waste prevention and rescue has played in meeting organic waste diversion mandates has created many opportunities for partnerships that have resulted not only in less edible food ending up in landfills, but also benefiting the food insecure families in California. 

The future of these grant programs is in the hands of the state Legislature and the Governor, and each year we remind them of the effectiveness of these programs. This month the Governor released his plan for the allocation of Greenhouse Gas Reduction Funding, and it proposes a 50% cut in CalRecycle funding, despite CalReycle's programs being highly oversubscribed as well as among the most cost effective.