San Diego Food Bank

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Preventing Local Food Waste with Fresh Rescue Program
Millions of pounds of food are diverted away from the landfill every year in San Diego County – thanks to the Jacobs & Cushman San Diego Food Bank’s Fresh Rescue Program.

Launched in 2014, the Food Bank’s Fresh Rescue Program is a food recovery program which helps food vendors (grocery stores, food retailers and restaurants) redirect surplus food to local food banks and pantries. Through this program, the Food Bank feeds families in need while preventing food waste locally.

With the recent implementation of Senate Bill 1383 by the California legislature, the program has quickly gained momentum. Due to the changing landscape of food waste initiatives and food recovery efforts, the Food Bank has remained diligent by partnering with agencies including the San Diego Food System Alliance, County of San Diego and CalRecyle.

“The San Diego Food Bank has seen this program grow exponentially over the last few years. It has been a great way for the Food Bank to not only increase the number of meals we are distributing to local families facing food insecurity every year, but to do our part to reduce our carbon footprint when it comes to preventing food waste,” shared Kayla Thomson, Food Procurement Supervisor for the San Diego Food Bank.

Currently, the San Diego Food Bank partners with more than 150 grocery stores and retailers countywide and connects each vendor with an existing nonprofit partner – based on location – to help minimize transportation costs, who will then pick up the food on a routine basis.

Last year, the Food Bank, with the support of its nonprofit partner network and grocery store partners, redirected more than 4.4 million pounds of food from going to the landfill and instead, nourished those in the community who may have otherwise gone without. The types of food typically received through this program include fresh fruits and vegetables, prepackaged meals, dairy products, bread and much more.

“Our nonprofit partners range from a variety of organizations dedicated to feeding those in need, such as soup kitchens, food pantries, shelters, low-income daycare and senior programs,” added Thomson. “Partners enrolled in our Fresh Rescue program receive equipment (freezer blankets and a scale), food safety training, and specialized food recovery training that empowers them to safely and effectively recover food.”

Having access to this additional source of food has helped nonprofit partners keep their food supply well-stocked, especially as more families seek food assistance from the Food Bank and its network of nonprofit partners like Life Acts. This nonprofit partner has been benefiting from the Fresh Rescue Program since its inception. “We are so grateful for the faithful, long-term support of the San Diego Food Bank and their Fresh Rescue Program. With their help, we have grown to engage in food rescue seven times a week,” reflected Elizabeth Samala Prado, Director of Life Acts.
With the implementation phase two of SB 1383 scheduled to roll out in January 2024, the Food Bank expects more businesses will reach out to establish partnerships and the Food Bank is ready. For more information about this program and for links to information about SB 1383, visit www.sandiegofoodbank.org/freshrescue.

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Esteban Villanueva
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