Never before has the need for food assistance been greater than it is today in San Diego County. Hundreds of thousands of people face hunger, and yet 40 percent of all food produced is wasted. Feeding San Diego, the leading hunger relief and food rescue organization in the region, is ending hunger through food rescue. It is protecting people and the planet.

Feeding San Diego rescues high-quality food before it goes to waste from over 600 locations in San Diego County, including grocery and retail locations, and from over 225 farms and packing sheds throughout California. Prior to COVID, 92 percent of the 31.2 million meals the organization provided to the community was rescued food. By diverting more than 27.6 million pounds of good food from the landfill, the organization averted nearly 25,000 metric tons of CO2 equivalent from going into the atmosphere.

Why this matters is due to the fact that eight percent of global greenhouse gas emissions are attributed to food waste. When we toss still-edible food into the trash, it ends up in landfills, where it generates methane and according to the US Environmental Protection Agency, 34 percent of all methane emissions in the US come from landfills.

Cutting global food waste in half by 2030 is one of the top priorities of the United Nations and one of the 17 sustainable development goals. Further, food waste reduction is a priority on the local level as well. In 2014, San Diego County’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions were 3.2 million metric tons – the equivalent of driving to the moon and back 16,116 times! Solid waste was the third largest emissions sector, accounting for 11% of total GHGs. The county aims to reduce annual GHG emissions to 40 percent below 2014 levels by 2030 and 77 percent below 2014 levels by 2050.

Despite the pandemic, the increased need for food assistance, and significant disruptions to the food system, Feeding San Diego has remained true to its mission. While the percentage of food it has been able to rescue this year has decreased to 69 percent, food rescue remains the primary means of sourcing food for the organization.

In honor of the 51st anniversary of Earth Month, Feeding San Diego has launched a campaign called Feed People, Not Landfills. If you are feeling inspired to learn more about food waste and how you can be a part of the solution, Feeding San Diego is hosting a virtual film screening of “Wasted! The Story of Food Waste” on Thursday, April 22. The David C. Copley Foundation has also generously announced a match: every donation made to Feeding San Diego between April 16 and April 22 will be matched, dollar for dollar, up to $25,000.

The solution to ending hunger and reducing food waste will take all of us. To learn more, go to www.feedingsandiego.org.