Welcome Sona!

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San Diego Food System Alliance is thrilled to welcome Sona Desai to the team as our new Associate Director. She comes to us with over 20 years of food system experience and is widely recognized as a leader in the field.

Sona has been working to advance sustainable and equitable food systems for more than 20 years. She has a background in organic farming, food marketing & distribution, farm business development, and is recognized nationally as a leader in food hub and community food systems development.

Before joining the San Diego Food System Alliance, Sona was the Director of Food Systems Development at the Leichtag Foundation where she provided thought leadership, research, and food and farm based consulting services to advance the Foundation’s food system strategy. She also served as the Associate Director of Coastal Roots Farm in Encinitas. 

Sona moved to California in 2016 after working at the Intervale Center in Burlington, Vermont for ten years. At the Intervale Center, Sona led the development and management of the Intervale Food Hub and the organization’s Gleaning & Food Rescue Program. She was also actively engaged in the Vermont Farm to Plate Network, and served on the Board of Directors for the Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont.

Fall Fisherman Highlight: David Haworth

David Haworth is a local fisherman and business owner. Born and raised in San Diego, his love of fishing started young, when he began working with his Dad on a commercial tuna boat.

Please share the story and history of your fishing business.

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When I was nine years old, I fished with my Dad on a commercial fishing boat chasing tuna off the coast of Mexico up to Canada. By the time I was 16, I had my first boat and fished for lobster off the coast of San Diego. I started direct marketing with my business, La Jolla Lobster and Crab, selling live lobster and crab directly to the public.

Once I finished high school, I started fishing full-time with my Dad on the Barbara H, from the South Pacific to Alaska. When I was 21, I took over as Captain of the Barbara H and was in charge of the full operation of the boat. Since then, I have worked in many different fisheries: gillnetting tuna and swordfish, long-lining tuna and swordfish out of Hawai’i and California, trolling and bait fishing tuna, and purse seining for tuna, squid, mackerel and sardines. I also fished locally with traps for lobster, sheepshead and crab.

Presently I own and manage 5 commercial fishing boats out of San Diego that participate in harpoon, deep-set buoy gear, gillnet and long-line fishing of swordfish and tuna.

Why are you committed to local fishing?

After fishing the North and South Pacific, basically all over the Pacific, and being a native San Diegan, I decided I wanted to just fish locally, out of my hometown. I wanted to fish with my family and be close to my family.

What is your vision for your business?

My vision for my business is to provide reasonably priced seafood for the average family, and to promote U.S. caught fish.

What have been the biggest challenges for your business?

The biggest challenges have been fighting lies and misinformation from Oceana and Pew and other environmental non-governmental organizations. 

What do local fishermen need to succeed?

Hard work, and being able to adapt to changing ocean conditions and ever-changing regulations.

What do you want San Diegans to know?

The oceans off San Diego are healthy with life, and fish stocks look good for the future. Local California fishermen are the most regulated fishermen in the world, try to support these fishermen and buy locally caught U.S. seafood.

Where can San Diegans find you and your fish?

Every Saturday I’m at the Tuna Harbor Dockside Market, and my fish can be found at most local restaurants that serve locally caught U.S. fish.

What are you selling this week?

This week and most weeks I have Albacore, Big Eye, skipjack, and yellowfin tuna, swordfish, lobster, ono, and monchong.

What is your favorite fish to eat?

Opah.

Any other thoughts you’d like to share?

Please support San Diego fishermen.

You can find Dave selling is local catch at Tuna Harbor Dockside Market every Saturday.

Fall Grower Highlight: Russell Family Farms

Jim Russell grew up on a farm in Pennsylvania, where his family raised hogs and cattle, and all the food to feed them, such as corn, barley, wheat, oats, and buckwheat. At age 17, when his parents offered to mortgage the farm to send him to college, he knew it would not be the right thing for him then, so he signed up for the Marine Corps instead.

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He did three tours of duty in Vietnam, was posted to lots of different bases, and even did two years as commanding officer of the Marine Corps detachment on a nuclear powered cruiser, tasked with securing the nuclear weapon as his primary responsibility.

“You go where the Corps tells you to go, you do what they tell you to do,” Russell says, recalling his 20 years in the military. He married his high school sweetheart, had five children with her, rose to the rank of major, got divorced, and was based in Camp Pendleton and engaged to Barbara whom he met while studying for his bachelor’s, when tragedy struck.

Driving his motorcycle one night in 1977, he slid off the road, hit his head and severed his spinal cord, becoming paralyzed from the waist down. He spent seven months in the hospital. Once he got out, he married Barbara and adopted her daughter, completed his bachelor’s degree, and began studying for his M.B.A at San Diego State University.

Circling back to farming roots

For a business school project, he studied the economics of starting a macadamia farm and his professor told him it would be worth pursuing. He had purchased a few acres in Fallbrook and was wondering if it would be viable to grow macadamia trees, which was how the project came about and led to his second career as a farmer, with Russell Family Farms.

“I knew macadamias at that point, I liked eating them, so I thought maybe I could sell those suckers,” Russell says.

Macadamias are native to Australia, and were introduced in Hawaii in 1881, and soon after in California. They began to be planted commercially in the 1950s and production peaked in the 1960s before acreage dwindled due to challenges with the costs of water, labor and land. It continues to be grown in small to medium sized orchards in the state, and is a small, specialty crop.

In San Diego, there are about 1,000 trees, and Russell has about 200 in his orchard. Asked if he chose macadamias for their value as a specialty crop, he laughs and relates an old adage. “I wanted to do something to make money with,” he says, “If you want to make a small fortune in farming, you start with a big fortune, and pretty soon, it will be small.”

It’s a way of life, but not one he would recommend to everyone, especially since the trees suck up as much water as thirsty avocado trees, which add up to high water costs.

A DIY story

To get started, he did need to get up to speed with growing tree nuts, so he joined the California Macadamia Society, bought up all their yearbooks and educated himself on all things macadamia. He eventually became its president, and continues to serve in that role today.

He laid out a plan for the trees and water system, had help from his brother-in-law to create ditches, then put in the sprinkler system, got plants from the local nursery, planted seedlings and grafted them a year later.

“I dug the holes, my wife and mom planted it,” he recalls. Her work as a teacher and his pension helped fund their cost of living in the early years while they waited for the trees to produce nuts. 

Macadamias are his main crop, but he also grows lemons, limes, key limes, kumquats, pomelos, mulberries, and figs, and sells his produce every other Wednesday at the weekly Santa Monica farmers’ market, one of the biggest in the state.

He doesn’t advertise, but does get orders on the internet from people who were gifted a bag of macadamias from his orchard, and seek him out for more of the flavorful nuts.  

He now runs the orchard primarily with the help of two young men, grandsons of the man who first began helping him. His wife passed on, and his sons are settled in the east, while his daughters live in California, and one daughter lives on the farm, running her own business as a bee keeper and growing worms for soil enhancements.

He used to grow gourds and spent hundreds of hours carving them in intricate mathematical designs and selling them as art at the farmers’ market. Artists would also buy gourds for carving from him. But drought rations dictated that he get out of gourds and focus on using the water for his main crops. 

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Macadamia 101

The life cycle for tree nuts is long, and it took about 15 years before Russell began getting good production and breaking even, so having other sources of income helped make it possible to embark on the venture.

He also learned by trial and error. Every few years, a polar freeze would kill trees and this happened to him in his fourth year, wiping out 80 percent of his trees. “You learn the hard way to get some hardier stock and expand to other crops,” he says.

Most tree nuts are deciduous, blooming in spring and going dormant in fall, but macadamias are a year-round crop, and he harvests throughout the year. Most of the blooms set in February or March, and get harvested between November to January. When they’re ripe, they fall to the ground, so they don’t need to be picked.

Of the ten botanical varieties, only two yield edible nuts. The integrifolia is the type grown in most of the world, a smaller nut that is uniformly round but has less sugar content. Russell grows the tetraphylla variety, which has slightly more sugar and comes in all kinds of shapes.

“It’s like the difference between brown bread and white bread - it’s a little sweeter,” Russell explains. “There are also hybrids crossed with these two, that have characteristics of both.”

Because of the uneven shapes of the tetraphylla, it’s not easy to roast it since it can’t all be roasted at the same temperature. He sells both roasted nuts, and nuts in the shell. The latter require a special nutcracker to break them open. They are prized by raw foodies and vegans who like them for their flavor, texture and healthy fat content. 

His helpers hull the nuts year-round, almost daily during the peak harvesting season, and weekly at other times. The huller removes the green, fibrous husk and the nuts go in drying trays for about two weeks at ambient temperature. Russell runs a fan to prevent mold from forming since they go in wet. This reduces moisture content from 35 percent to 5 percent, at which point sugar is reduced and eliminated as well.

“This is when they taste a lot like a cross between a coconut and sweet peas,” he explains.

Next, the nuts go into a heated dryer set at 94 degrees, for a week. Then they’re separated by size, packed up into heavy plastic bags inside burlap bags, where they stay until they are ready to be sold. Larger kernels sell for a premium.

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Skilled veteran, marksman, farmer, and artist

At 77, Russell loves what he does and continues wearing many hats.

A crack shot with the pistol and rifle, Russell runs a shooting program for the non-profit Paralyzed Veterans of America, in which he has served in numerous roles since 1978. His gourd art has won many awards and has been published in many outlets.

He has 6 children, 12 grandchildren, and 2 great-grand children, and lives with his service dog. He finds his work to be rewarding and fulfilling.

“Enjoying mother nature is awesome. Farming is a great way to live. There are lots of set backs from mother nature, but that’s just part of the game. I was very fortunate to grow up on a farm as a young man, and I’m still doing it,” he reflects. “It’s kind of hard to beat living in Southern California, I can’t think of any place I’d rather be.”

Written by Padma Nagappan for the San Diego County Farm Bureau

2018 EMIES UnWasted Food Awards

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In San Diego County, almost 500,000 tons of food waste goes into the landfill annually. Meanwhile, nearly 500,000 people in San Diego County don’t always have enough food for an active and healthy life.

The San Diego Food System Alliance is working collaboratively with state and local government agencies, food establishments, food banks, and food pantries to catalyze efforts to reduce food waste and increase donation. We hosted our fourth annual Food Waste Solutions Summit on September 25th, 2018 and were honored to recognize 20 entities devoted to reducing food waste and food insecurity in our community.

The 2018 EMIES Unwasted Food Awards honor businesses, organizations, and institutions with exemplary practices around food waste prevention and recovery. The EMIES Awards are designed to honor the legacy of Congressman Bill Emerson, sponsor of the 1996 Federal Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act, which, in order to encourage food donation, protects donors from liability.

More information about the EMIES Awards can be found here.


2018 EMIES Award Winners

GNF Novartis

Demonstrates  and shares best practice for upstream food waste reduction, auditing production and engaging staff, excess food donation, and composting. Landfill diversion is 78%; up from 4.4% in 2010.

Sharp HealthCare

Collaboration as an innovator and early adopter with upstream "unusual but usable" procurement, soup stock program, organic gardens, animal feed and composting. 18,000 lbs. of good food donated in 2017.

San Diego County Regional Airport Authority

Programs depth and breadth. Green certified 38 concessionaires. Increased food donation six-fold. Pre- and post-consumer food waste composting. Education and signage. Saved over $9000 in landfill fees.

Escondido Union School District

Plate waste study & Smarter Lunchroom program. Designed four compartment trays to reduce plate waste. Zero waste goal. "Healthy Sustainable Living, Every Day Counts!"  student education campaign.-

BrightSide Produce

“Anchor Institution” collaboration, healthful produce at University pricing for 13 small to medium grocery stores in National City. Assists with pricing, displays, sales, signage, and nutrition education.

ProduceGood

Four to seven weekly gleaning events, distributing 11,000 servings/week. Diverse and scalable volunteer opportunities By the end of this calendar year will have logged one million pounds of rescued produce.

Vista Unified School District Child Nutrition Services

Integrated food waste curriculum into 6th grade science standards. Tracked & measured food waste in café, students created posters, set up and monitored share cooler in cafeteria, “alumni” outreach.

Food Recovery Network at UCSD

Fresh and Full Food Transportation program, with AB54 funding, secured vehicle and hired student drivers. Hot meals for students who self-identify as food insecure. 6000 lbs. food recovered last year.

Public Health Alliance of Southern California

CA Food Waste Prevention Week collaboration and promotion guide. DEH Directors across state trained in safe food donation. Nutrition education and SNAP education to include food waste prevention.


 2018 EMIES Distinguished Programs:  

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Culinart Group at Francis Parker School uses menu control, smaller portion sizes, ok to ask for more.

Solana Center for Environmental Innovation for education/recycling in communities across the region.

San Diego Rescue Mission provides shelter for over 200, prepares donated/recovered pre-school meals.

Café Bon Apetit buys imperfect produce, Food Recovery Network Verified, Chefs to End Hunger partner.

Sprouts North Park donated 180,000 lbs. food in 2017, 140,000 lbs. produce, with San Diego Food Bank

UC San Diego Health usesupstream” prevention strategies, 40% decrease in organic waste to landfill.

LeanPath provides innovation, thought leadership. Developing technologies and sharing best practice.

Aztec Shops are the first university markets in the nation to be Green Restaurant Certified.


2018 EMIES Emerging Programs:  

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Harvest CROPS empowering residents/gleaners, over 320,000 lbs. fruits and vegetables since inception.

Resource Management Group provides bins, user education for food waste reduction & recycling.

California State University San Marcos educational outreach, composting tours, Cougar Pantry access.


Visionary Staff Leadership:

Ana Carvalho, City of San Diego

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Ana has been providing leadership and guidance to food production facilities across the City of San Diego. She has been an active member in the Food Recovery Working Group of the San Diego Food System Alliance, and has participated in regional and national efforts to share best practice and reduce the impacts of wasted food. Ana’s visionary leadership has helped many organizations and the City of San Diego to build strong programs in support of their waste reduction and healthy climate goals.

Jennifer Winfrey, County of San Diego

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Jen has been a strong and informed advocate for food waste reduction and donation at the County of San Diego. She has served on the steering group leading the Food Recovery Working Group of the San Diego Food System Alliance. Jen’s visionary leadership has inspired students and residents across unincorporated San Diego County to develop innovative strategies to share messaging, to source reduce food waste, to increase donation, to provide animal feed, and to compost in our rural areas.


Smart Kitchens San Diego Food Recovery Agencies Selected!

Smart Kitchens San Diego, a food waste reduction and recovery initiative spearheaded by the San Diego Food System Alliance and funded by CalRecycle through California Climate Investments, celebrated a big step this week.

We had the joy of honoring The Foundry, Heaven's Windows, People Assisting the Homeless, and New Alternatives Inc as the official food recovery partners for Smart Kitchens San Diego. These four agencies will make good use of the cargo vans and commercial coolers they received through the Smart Kitchens San Diego initiative. They'll recover unwasted food from Smart Kitchens food donors around San Diego County - including the Padres at Petco Park, Park Hyatt Aviara, and Palomar Health - and will distribute this nutritious food to their community members in need.

A huge congratulations to the agencies selected for this partnership! Check out the event recording on Facebook, and many thanks to the San Diego Food Bank for hosting the ceremony.

The Foundry, a food pantry located in Escondido, sees 15 - 20 new families each week walking through their pantry doors. The cargo van and commercial cooler will help them meet this growing need with nutritious food! http://thefoundryescondido.com/

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Infectious smiles exude from the Heaven's Windows team as they accept the keys to their van and Smart Kitchens decal for their commercial cooler. Angela Kretschmar, director of Heaven's Windows, stated "everyone in this room has one thing in common - we all want to serve somebody and help somebody - and we all want to work together." We couldn't agree more! http://www.heavenswindows.org/

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People Assisting the Homeless (PATH) is on a mission to end homelessness for individuals, families, and communities by providing wrap-around services to the homeless. They serve 150 residents with two meals a day, 365 days a year. That's 109,500 meals per year - 109,500 meals which, thanks to their new cargo van, will now include prepared food from Smart Kitchens San Diego donor participants like the Padres. https://www.epath.org/

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Wondering who will be driving PATH's cargo van? Glad you asked! Participants from New Alternatives Inc (NAI) will be trained as drivers for Smart Kitchens San Diego, providing them an employment opportunity with professional growth potential. NAI provides transitional housing and services to at-risk youth terming out of foster care. The commercial cooler will allow NAI case managers to give delicious food to the participants during weekly visits.

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We look forward to working together to reduce food waste in San Diego County while increasing distribution of healthy food to those in need.

Smart Kitchens San Diego is funded by a grant from the Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) through California Climate Investments.

Post by Geertje Grootenhuis, Project Coordinator for Food Waste Reduction & Recovery

Healthy Foods, Healthy Soils: Facilitating Composting in Our Communities

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Healthy Foods, Healthy Soils Toolkit available here: http://www.sdfsa.org/toolkit/

San Diego County has approximately 3.3 million residents in 18 cities and more than 100 unincorporated communities. San Diego County has 5,732 farms and ranks as the 12th largest farm economy among 3,000 counties and has more small farms than any other county. The San Diego region prides itself as a leader in organic farming.  However, soils in San Diego County are not conducive to agriculture- they are typically poor, heavy in clay, and require amending with organic matter, such as compost, to improve physical structure.

Meanwhile, San Diego County disposes of more than one million tons of compostable materials in landfills every year, which equates to about 40% of all waste disposed. Of that million tons, roughly 500,000 tons is food material. These compostable materials, when treated as wastes and disposed in landfills, produce methane gas and leachate; two byproducts that pose risks to public health. The State of California has declared landfills a major emitter of greenhouse gases, and has declared methane a climate pollutant.

Better management of compostable materials (yard trimmings, food scraps, manure, etc.) will improve air and water quality, reduce soil erosion, revitalize agricultural and garden soils, ensure a robust and healthy food system, and create local jobs, while protecting human health and improving the quality of life for the region’s populace. Diverting compostables from the landfill will stimulate the economy by facilitating commerce, jobs and entrepreneurial opportunities. According to the Institute for Local Self Reliance, composting generates four jobs to every one job associated with landfilling.

Even though composting is the right thing to do, San Diego as a region lacks critical infrastructure. Siting compost facilities, large or small, can be a sensitive issue and raise concerns with both local governments and residents. Fears and bad practices in the past have led to restrictive land use allowances and high permit fees which today, consequently, disincentivizes development of composting infrastructure. 

The Healthy Food, Healthy Soils Toolkit aims to demystify perceptions about composting and provides practical insight to encourage fair policies and ordinances that supports composting of all sizes while providing necessary safeguards to protect public health and safety.

The Toolkit was designed for planners, regional stakeholders, and anyone with an interest in furthering sustainability, healthy food systems, and public health through better knowledge of zoning, land use, methods and policy focused on best practices and fair rules for composting.

San Diego County jurisdictions are encouraged to access the toolkit online at http://www.sdfsa.org/toolkit/ and meanwhile look within at its own existing ordinances and policies (if any). What are the next steps needed to set into motion potential amendments to the municipal code that will better facilitate composting and respond to statewide legislation? 

The Healthy Foods, Healthy Soils Toolkit is a project of Live Well San Diego: Healthy Works, implemented by Hidden Resources and San Diego Food System Alliance in partnership with UC San Diego Center for Community Health. This project supports Live Well San Diego, the County's vision of a region that is Building Better Health, Living Safely, and Thriving. For more information about Live Well San Diego, visit LiveWellSD.org.

Under the Tent with Food Waste Innovators

Under the Tent with Food Waste Innovators

US Food Waste Summit and Innovator Workshop, June 25-27, 2018, Harvard Law School

Co-hosted by Harvard Law School Food Law and Policy Clinic & ReFed

With the $218 billion-dollar issue of food waste becoming a global priority, entrepreneurs, businesses, funders and policymakers around the world have taken notice. This has resulted in an exciting increase in innovative products and services that are turning wasted food into jobs, hunger relief, and environmental stewardship.

The Innovator Workshop and US Food Waste Summit brought together food business innovators and leaders, funders, and policy makers from across the country, in addition to strategic leaders from Canada, United Kingdom, Italy, France, and Japan. Connections were made between innovators and funders in order to propel the next level of investment in food waste solutions, both for-profit and non-profit.

Stewarding the Save The Food San Diego initiative in San Diego, our team from the San Diego Food System Alliance was particularly interested in creative solutions and collaborative opportunities for food waste source reduction, wholesome food recovery, and engaging consumer education.  

Chad Frischmann of Project Drawdown shared some powerful strategies out of the 100 identified solutions to reverse global warming by 2015. Eight (8) of the top 20 emissions-reducing solutions are actually food system related! And number three (3) is “source reduction of food waste”! Many people think of clean energy as having the most dramatic impact, but solar farms and rooftop solar are numbers 8 and 10, while geothermal and nuclear power are numbers 18 and 20.  Frischmann asserts that we need to employ all 100 of these strategies, but many people in the general public may be surprised at how relevant and impactful our work in food waste reduction actually is to the health of the planet.

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Just to put this in perspective – reducing food waste around the world has the potential to reduce over 70 GT of CO2e, which translates to providing clean electricity to over 10,500,000,000 average homes in the U.S. or taking over 15,000,000,000 passenger vehicles off the road. That is a lot of impact!

Measurement of food waste

Measurement of food waste is key to understanding how best to innovate new models of food recovery, and how to develop and implement federal and regional food waste policy. Kai Robertson, of the World Resources Institute, stated that “measurement is a journey”. Organizations should start tracking wherever they are in their own journey, but manual tracking only works to a point. It is important to “prove accuracy over time” and clearly state the sources of insecurity in the data for transparency.

Alison Grantham, of Blue Apron, is using procurement and sales data to identify and understand food loss in their production model. Beyond reducing food loss in their own business, Blue Apron may have the potential to reduce food loss at home by providing exact quantities of ingredients needed for their recipes, delivered to your door. In their model, they provide busy people and aspiring cooks the tools and ingredients they need to eat healthful and delicious meals prepared at home.

Nell Fry, of Sodexo, stresses the importance of communication with their contracted food services sites around food waste reduction opportunities. At Sodexo they encourage all sites to utilize the EPA’s Food Recovery Challenge (FRC) resources, and are preparing to roll out more robust, data-driven food waste tracking at qualifying sites with LeanPath food waste tracking systems.

At the Alliance we are also utilizing LeanPath food waste reduction systems in our Smart Kitchens San Diego initiative. Andrew Shakman of LeanPath shared that making tracking a “daily practice” becomes a tool for efficiency and “management depth”. When we measure what food is disposed and why, we can make more informed upstream decisions to reduce both cost and waste.

Influencing consumer behavior

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Dana Gunders, of Next Course, LLC, and previously with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), clearly understands why we need to scale this conversation to the consumer. Consumers are “the largest contributor” to food waste. In addition, “convenience is king, and wasting less is not always convenient.” So how can we make it easier? Gunders asserts that “now is the right time to connect the dots and get things done”. Many solutions have already been identified, and food waste reduction has become a core pillar in sustainable food programs.

Aubrey Allison, a contributor at PBS NewsHour, points out that on a personal level we sometimes waste food because of “our expectations and habits”. Her personal ah-ha moment happened in the California Salinas Valley. A farmer there explained to her that an entire area of the cauliflower field in front of them, a very large portion, would not be sold, that no U.S. market would buy it. Because of its location in the field, the top leaf had blown off the plant and caused the cauliflower to yellow. The food was fine, just a bit yellowed in color from exposure to the sun. She knew then that our expectations as consumers contributes to this very large problem of wasted food, and that we can solve it!

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JoAnne Berkencamp, with NRDC, leads the Save The Food campaign, a partnership with NRDC and Ad Council. NRDC research shows some of the reasons why consumers waste food. A lot of food waste happens out of good intentions around eating in a more healthful manner or providing for those we love. There is also a lot of confusion about how to store foods and what date labels actually mean for food safety. Understanding the root causes of food waste at home helps us to develop messaging and resources that will be well received. One of the lessons learned is that “blame is NOT a motivator.”

Laura Moreno, a PhD candidate at UC Berkeley has been collecting data to track this “social phenomenon” of household food waste. She is finding that we sometimes make “perceived choices”, i.e. using how food looks “as a proxy” for how good it actually is. She also finds that we feel “guilt alleviation” because of our “perceived benefit” of wasting foods, i.e. "to keep our family healthy we buy more produce than we may be able to use". Moreno asserts that people want impactful food waste reduction messaging where they are thinking about it, i.e. at the grocery store while shopping.

Jonathan Deutsch, of Drexel University, recounts the age-old food safety mantra, “when in doubt, throw it out” as one reasons behind food waste. He recommends being creative in using all parts of your food, because “it’s all food”. He also recommends considering “equity” when speaking about food recovery, i.e. NOT using phrases like “food waste to feed people”, and moving beyond awareness building to sharing solutions and creating demand, positioning retailers as “consumer educators”.

Food waste policy

By overwhelming consensus at the US Food Waste Summit, we need informed policy to successfully incentivize innovation and address food waste.

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Chellie Pingree (D-ME) and Congressman David Young (R-IA) launched a bipartisan House Food Waste Caucus to explore opportunities to reduce food waste. They both felt strongly enough about the issue to record a message to the Summit attendees, encouraging each of us to reach out to our own representatives to encourage them to join this bipartisan group of national legislators, too.

The final version of the federal 2018 Farm Bill may include provisions such as a Food Waste liaison at USDA, a milk donation program, research on specialty crops and extending shelf life, local foods, composting, and funding for food waste prevention.

Kevin Smith of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) formed a committee with other stakeholders at the Conference for Food Protection in April to add language to the FDA Food Code that outlines prevention-based standards and strategies to reduce food waste, and provide guidance on safe food donation and procedures.

States and local departments of environmental health typically adopt and/or adapt the Food Code. The state of Texas already has a comprehensive food safety in food donation rule, which includes temperature, packaging, labeling, and shelf life. The state of Vermont Department of Health published a comprehensive “Guidance for Food Donation”.

In the State of Massachusetts, thoughtful design and implementation of a food waste ban to landfill resulted in striking economic success with over $175 million in economic activity and supporting over 900 jobs in the community.

The State of Oregon via its commitment to Champions 12.3 and 2050 Vision has made formal commitments to “reduce the generation of wasted food” and will be publishing supporting research later this year, according to Ashley Zanolli, of the Oregon Department of Environmental Protection.

Innovation in food recovery

Innovators in the food recovery space are looking beyond silo’d solutions, to how upstream solutions and policy can address food waste source reduction and at the same time job creation to target poverty as a root cause of hunger.

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But food recovery is not as easy as it seems. Steve Dietz, of Food Donation Connection, asks “how hard is it to give away free food? It’s damn hard!” Food Donation Connection  has been operating for 26 years and has facilitated 1 billion pounds of donated food working with 22,000 donors and 14,000 food recovery organizations across the U.S.

Whole Foods partners with Food Donation Connection across the regions where they operate stores, bake houses, and processing facilities, averaging about 1 ton of donated food per week per store. Karen Franczyk, from the North Atlantic Region, shared successful program components such as streamlined, consistent donation processes, and department-specific staff engagement.  

CommonWealth Kitchen operates as a food business incubator, but also provides culinary skills training and food processing. The 412 model of alternative food rescue is unique in that they develop food distribution within an existing network, taking rescued food to where people live, work, and learn.

Planetarians utilize protein and fiber from defatted seeds to make healthful, sustainable, plant-based foods. Defatted seeds are the dry matter left after oils are extracted from crops such as sunflower seeds, cotton seeds, canola, etc. ReGrained rescues the nutritious grain created during beer production. Brewing beer processes the sugar out of the grain, leaving protein, fiber, and “a whole bunch of micronutrients” to make delicious and nutritious “SuperGrain bars”.

At Harvard University Dining Services. they serve 25,000 meals per day. Crista Martin and her team been working on both source reduction and donation for years. They understand the importance of comprehensive measurement, as well as student and staff engagement. They continually work to reduce food waste in the first place, achieving a low rate of 1.5 oz. of waste per meal. But there is still excess food that can be recovered. Some students are even involved in preparing excess food for donation for their local non-profit partner, Food For Free, in a manner that provides “a meal with dignity”.  

ProduceGood, one of our Alliance members, is a gleaning organization that uses food recovery to empower community volunteerism. Since the incubation of their first grassroots program in 2010, they have blossomed into a thriving organization of 600+ volunteers who have rescued 240,000 lbs. of produce, or 720,000 servings of fresh, healthy food distributed to food insecure individuals.

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Another Alliance member, Solana Center for Environmental Innovation, works to mobilize the local community through innovative outreach, and consulting services to businesses and jurisdictions on food waste diversion and composting. Each year Solana Center reaches tens of thousands of San Diego County residents through its environmental education and community programs.

One of the innovative partner we are working with at the Alliance, Replate is helping to pilot test “willingness to pay” and tech applications for food donation pick up. Over the past two years Replate has recovered more than a million meals using their tech platform to match food donors with communities in need. They have a unique non-profit model that allows them to generate revenue and create jobs via fee for service, monthly subscriptions and licensing their technology.

Another partner working with us at the Alliance on piloting innovative solutions in the San Diego region is FoodRescueUS, who connects volunteer drivers for food recovery. We are piloting their volunteer driver platform with the San Diego Food Bank in parts of the county where there are not enough volunteer food recovery drivers to meet the demand from food donors.

Food Recovery Network (FRN) is the largest student movement against food waste and hunger in America, with 235 Chapters operating on university campuses. Regina Northhouse has expanded student engagement to include FRN Alumni leadership and empower more students around food recovery via their interest in environmental and social issues. FRN is also utilizing Save The Food assets to share tips, tricks, and recipes to reduce food waste.

K-12 schools are also innovating on food waste source reduction and donation. Nancy Deming from Oakland Unified School District has collaborated regionally and across the nation to share best practice and lessons learned. They also shared a their school district food donation guide on the Center for Food Loss and Waste Solutions’ Further With Food website.

Working with food businesses to manage unsold inventory is an upstream, business intelligence solution offered by Spoiler Alert. This technology allows food distributors, manufacturers, and retailer stores to get a better handle on their food recovery and waste diversion efforts, as well as creating a marketplace that facilitates real-time food donations, salvage sales, and organics recycling.

By joining together and learning from one another we can reach our national goal of cutting food loss and waste in the United States in half by 2030.

Moving forward

In the next few years we should expect to see both legal and policy barriers and opportunities, creative opportunities and partnerships for accessing capital, measuring impact, and mitigating unintended consequences of food waste reduction work---as well as a continued and more robust effort in fostering consumer behavior change.

Jesse Fink, of The Fink Family Foundation, and a driving force behind ReFed, spoke of the beginnings of this work and creating a “tent” for collaboration. We were in that expanded tent during the US Food Waste Summit and Innovator Workshop. We plan to continue to invite others to join this gathering under the tent, and remain open and inviting to new ideas and opportunities to reduce food waste, feed hungry people, and collaboratively address the root causes of hunger.

We have a big job ahead of us. We must embrace coordination and collaboration to scale for impact. As we move forward we will use food waste as a vehicle to address environment and nutrition. We will expand upon our place-based work as we clearly demonstrate our impact with relevant metrics and outcomes.

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Post by Barbara Hamilton, Director of Strategic Initiatives

Summer Fisherman Highlight: John Law

For the Summer 2018 issue of San Diego Food System Spotlights, we interviewed local fisherman, John Law, on his way back from a day of fishing, enjoying Taco Tuesday. When asked what he ordered, Wild Alaskan Cod fish tacos from Rubios.

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1. Please share the story and history of your fishing business.

When I was 15, my buddy and I went out to Mission Bay with a couple of fishing rods. My first cast was a horrible tangle, but when I got the tangle out, a Yellowfin Croaker was at the end of the line. It was the most magical moment and I’ve been hooked on fishing ever since. I never want to lose that spirit of being a kid and the excitement of going fishing, so I try to hold that childlike wonder and connection.

From then on, I went fishing in Mission Bay every chance I could. I was committed to getting on one of the sportboats I would see coming and going, and when I finally did, I saw bonita and barracuda and all the great things the ocean offers, there was no turning back.

I own and operate two boats named after Blazing Saddles, Rock Ridge and Wild West. I’m a small boat, coastal, day fishermen. I leave after sunrise and am back in the middle of the afternoon. I fish around a 15 mile radius of Mission Bay Harbor, primarily rockfish. I was introduced to rockfish by fisherman, Patrick Dean, in 1977. We went out in a similar boat to the ones I have now, in the same fishing spot with the same kind of fish. Not much has changed, except now I don't have long hair.

2. Why are you committed to local fishing?

I believe in the integrity of my product, selling quality fish at a reasonable price. I have a great relationship with the public and people I sell to, and I think that the worst thing would be to misrepresent the product, or sell poor quality.  

I believe that just because it’s “local”, doesn’t mean it’s the highest quality. It needs to be taken care of properly. It’s important to note the misrepresentation of the word “local”. For example, the market name for halibut is “local halibut” but it could be fish from unregulated Mexican water.

3. What is your vision for your business?

At 58 years old, I know my career won't last forever but I have no desire to quit. I want to continue doing what I’m doing at whatever level is possible. As I get older I am doing less of the heavy lifting and interested in expanding the market for other fishermen who might not have as much desire in interacting with the public for sales. I have been buying and selling high quality fish from other fishermen, helping others get better prices for their fish and bringing more variety to the public.

They say you should always have a doctor, lawyer, and dentist in your life that you can trust. I want to add, fisherman to the list. It’s important to find someone that matches with your personality and the product you want and build that relationship.

4. What have been the biggest challenges for your business?

One of my biggest challenges is being undercut by a product that is less expensive but lesser quality. For example, I can call someone about a hook and line halibut that I caught 40 minutes ago, as fresh as possible, but they aren't interested because they can get cheaper fish elsewhere. I’m asking for a reasonable price for a high quality product and still being undercut by Mexico, which doesn’t have regulated waters, no coastal distance protection, and no protection for fish.

Mother nature is another challenge. There are a variety of conditions that can affect a day of fishing, including too much or too few fish and changing weather.

I compare my job to gambling. I get up in the morning, take my money and place my bet. My bet is my gasoline, ice, bait, crew wages, and all the expenses that come with a day of fishing. I bet on myself to do well that day. When I drive away from the dock, all that money is spent. I am betting that my boat is functioning, that I've used the right bait, that I’ll catch enough, and that the demand will be there. There are few days that I make it big, the rest I stay at the table. With fishing there are a few ways to win and a million ways to lose.

5. What do local fishermen need to succeed?

Infrastructure is key.  Fisherman should feel confident that there is a safe and secure place to tie their boat up. They need to feel like a welcome part of the community. With the redevelopment of G street, the fishing community is getting squeezed into an area of entertainment. Fishermen need to have a place to conduct their business and there is always a need for more dock space devoted to the fishing community.

6. What do you want San Diegans to know?

I want San Diegans to know that they live in one of the most heavily regulated coastal states, in terms of fishing requirements and protection of resources. If your fish comes from a California fisherman, you don’t need to ask if it’s sustainable or viable, California seafood speaks for itself. It’s regulated so tightly that there is no question that you are buying the best available product for environmental sustainability. It’s as clean and green as it gets.

7. Where can San Diegans find you and your fish?

I am sporadically at Tuna Harbor Dockside Market. I also patronize restaurants that strongly support local fishermen and that have menus modeled after locally caught fish. Some of these include, Ironside, Juniper and Ivy, LionFish Restaurant, and Ceviche House.

8. What are you selling this week?

I catch and sell rockfish. From other fishermen, I sell line-caught halibut, black cod, and yellowtail.

9. What is your favorite fish to eat?

I like to eat anything that can be used for bait; sardines, anchovies, muscles, clams.

Although, I guess I should say a local fish...rockfish.

10. Any other thoughts you’d like to share?

I want the public to know that the ocean is healthier and more vibrant today than I could imagine. The fish, seals, whales are all thriving. No one loves the ocean more than a fisherman and no one needs the ocean to be healthy, more than a fisherman. From where I stand, the ocean is healthy. We don't have to save it, we just need to maintain it.

My final words I want to leave with...NO fish farms.

Summer Grower Highlight: From Garden Patch to Dickinson Farm

The Dickinson farm isn’t your usual generational family farm. It has a unique start up story, all beginning with a life changing moment.

Mike and Stepheni purchased the Wallace D. Dickinson homestead in February 2012, as their forever home. When they bought the property, Stepheni was in the midst of pre-deployment work-up preparing for a 10 month deployment, and in March she was bit by a tick on San Clemente Island off the coast of Southern California.

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Unfortunately, Stepheni was left sick and untreated for a 10-month deployment. Almost a year later she returned home very ill and went from doctor to doctor to find a cure.  After 2 and a half years of fighting an undiagnosed illness, and a year of looking for a doctor, in July 2014, she was diagnosed with Lyme disease.

Stepheni immediately started daily IV treatment and was told to eat as fresh and healthy as possible by her doctor. Each day after treatment, Mike would take her home and would try to find fresh, organic food for dinner. This is when they noticed the lack of fresh produce in National City.

Stepheni asked her doctor if she could be outside and garden a little. With no real farming experience, MIke and Stepheni planted a few fruits trees and learned how to plant a small garden patch …and with that the Farm began.

In the SoCal sunshine, the crops sprouted up with ease, providing excess in abundance of what they could eat. Mike and Stepheni started giving away the excess to friends, family and even started a crop share. Then even started giving excess to Dreams for Change to help feed those who couldn’t afford to buy their own. Meanwhile, Stepheni sat in the IV chair researching how to make the Farm an official business.

By January 2016, the few trees and garden patch turned into 16 raised boxes, an orchard, 4 hedgerows of coffee, a hop patch and 20 in ground rows; 1/4 of an acre total. With plans settled and licenses obtained, the little garden patch became Dickinson Farm.

Stepheni, the Founding Farmer began with no formal agricultural experience or education, instead her fondest memories set the groundwork for Dickinson Farm. She is now the Farm Manager, working and managing the day to day operations of the farm.

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Born and raised in Southern California, with time spent in rural southern Illinois, Stepheni learned about wild edible plants in sixth grade camp and through afternoons of playing in the fields and forests of Illinois. She learned about stinging nettle, sassafras, cane berries, persimmons, paw paws, and mushrooms.

Stepheni has always been amazed yet frightened of what’s growing naturally all around her and this brought a sense of awe into her adult life, always looking for small gardens in nestled spaces. Her favorite fruit is any berry found around poison oak while hiking with her husband.

She has spent 20 years traveling all over the world as a entrepreneur, regulatory compliance and military professional. During her time off, she would navigate the landscapes of rolling hills, urban gardens, fresh markets and back alleyways.

Her previous experience and expertise with startup and growth strategies for emerging markets, operational environments, program development, and research management has helped ensure the success of Dickinson Farm.

Dickinson Farm also has a great farm to table “Farmacy” program designed for patients receiving on-going, out-patient care and great for anyone on a specialty diet. The program provides a great mix of Chef Made Meals and freshly harvested heirloom Dickinson farm produce delivered to your doorstep or even your doctor’s office. All produce is seasonal, organic, non-GMO and heirloom, and all ingredients in meals are organic and California grown. From responsibly raised and processed meats to heirloom varietals of grains and produce, each ingredient is carefully considered and presented in each dish to project it’s peak flavor to the diner.

Check out what’s growing at Dickinson Farm and sign up for your Farmacy or Farm Share, here.

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Save The Food San Diego – “how Sweet it is” - the San Diego County Fair!

 Geertje Grootenhuis and Barbara Hamilton, San Diego Food System Alliance

Geertje Grootenhuis and Barbara Hamilton, San Diego Food System Alliance

Save The Food San Diego – “how Sweet it is” at the 2018 San Diego County Fair!

Save The Food San Diego is a county-wide food waste awareness partnership that leverages the national “Save The Food” public service campaign, a partnership with NRDC and the Ad Council.

Spreading the word that food waste is an issue, and that individual actions matter!

DID YOU KNOW?              

  • Over 500,000 tons of food is wasted every year in San Diego County. (SDFSA)
  • Over 650,000 people (more than 1 in 5) in San Diego County are food insecure or food secure only with assistance from CalFresh/SNAP benefits. (San Diego Hunger Coalition)
  • Food Waste is 18% of what goes into landfills in San Diego County. (CalRecycle)
  • Across the nation 40% of all food goes to waste. This translates to $162 billion lost in wasted water, energy, fertilizers, cropland, and production costs. (ReFed)

“Knowing that 40% of food in the US never gets eaten, we rely on the support of the media and local partners to get our Save the Food campaign out into the market so we can make a tangible impact on consumers. We are so grateful to have dedicated local partners like the San Diego Food System Alliance to help us extend this critical message directly into communities.” – Cece Wedel (VP, Group Campaign Director, The Ad Council)

A lot of wasted food happens from good intentions. We may want to eat more fruits and vegetables, but then end up buying more than we can use. We may have family or friends visit for a meal, but buy and prepare too much. We may try to plan our weekly menu, but forget to consider using leftovers or eating out.

Members of our “Save The Food San Diego” team spent some “sweet” time at the San Diego Fair ---sharing resources and engaging over 1000 people in one day! We had a lot of fun at the fair. We heard from people who garden, preserve with canning, and share extras with neighbors and friends. We heard from people who compost and want to learn how to do even more to reduce wasted food. We heard from husbands and fathers who eat up the leftovers to avoid food waste. And we heard from mothers looking for ways to stretch the monthly food budget. We heard from people concerned about the scope of food waste across the nation. We heard from people who sometimes buy too much food with coupons, or because it is on sale, and end up wasting more than they would like. We shared resources and we handed out over a thousand stickers! Who knew stickers are so popular?  

What about you? Want some tips, tricks, and even recipes to help you to reduce wasted food?

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If we stick with it, we can solve this one. Our Save The Food San Diego initiative aims to raise awareness that food waste is an issue, and that individual actions matter.

Find out what you can do. Visit www.SaveTheFood.com

“The San Diego Food System Alliance has been a premier partner. We often hold up Save The Food San Diego and the tremendous initiatives of the alliance as a leading exemplar of how a community can leverage the national Save The Food campaign’s assets and make them their own to suit their unique needs. The San Diego Food System Alliance has amplified the campaign through a diverse variety of stakeholders across the entire county with comprehensive support materials for numerous events and coordinated initiatives.  They are truly a model for how consumer education, and a focus on preventing good food from going to waste, can be a foundational step in addressing food waste.”  Andrea Spacht, Sustainable Food Systems Specialist at NRDC.

Post by Barbara Hamilton, Director of Strategic Initiatives

Get out the Vote June 5, 2018! Food System Questionnaire for D4 and D5 County Supervisor Candidates

Get out the Vote! Tuesday June 5, 2018

County Supervisor District 4 and District 5 Candidate Questionnaire - 2018 Elections

We requested the County Supervisor District 4 and District 5 candidates for the 2108 race to share their vision for how the County of San Diego can expand existing initiatives and/or create even more innovative solutions to address these issues in order to develop an equitable and sustainable food system.

Our questions included  broad range of issues including:
1) Food Insecurity2) Equitable Access to Healthy Food3) Support for Small-Scale Farming and Fishing4) Food Waste5) Food Procurement6) Urban Agriculture7) Food Labor8) Support for Food Enterpreneurs, and 9) Broad Vision for Supporting San Diegans

Candidates are listed in order of when responses came in. For more info, visit: http://www.sdfsa.org/supervisor-candidate-questionnaire/

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New Reports on the Important Role that San Diego Farmers and Ranchers Play in Reducing the Causes of Climate Change

In our goal to preserve farming in our region for future generations, San Diego Food System Alliance is working on a collaborative project to promote "carbon farming" in San Diego along with key partners. The reports below were developed in partnership with Batra Ecological Strategies to make the case for carbon farming in our region. We're thrilled to share these resources with our community! For more information, visit: http://www.sdfsa.org/carbon-farming/

  Graphic from "Building a Climate Friendly San Diego from the Ground Up"

Graphic from "Building a Climate Friendly San Diego from the Ground Up"

Building a Climate Friendly San Diego from the Ground Up (16 pages) - produced by San Diego County Farm Bureau, San Diego Food System Alliance, and Batra Ecological Strategies

Linking Climate-Friendly Farming Practices to San Diego County’s Climate Action Plan: An Opportunity Analysis of Carbon Farming in the Unincorporated County (56 pages) - technical version of the report above - prepared by Batra Ecological Strategies for the San Diego Food System Alliance

Local Opportunity:
Resource Conservation District of Greater San Diego County still has three ¼ acre plots available at Tijuana River Valley Community Garden (apply here). They are also hiring a Head Gardener to manage their healthy soils demonstration plot at Tijuana River Valley Community Garden. 

  Graphic from "Building a Climate Friendly San Diego from the Ground Up"

Graphic from "Building a Climate Friendly San Diego from the Ground Up"

Kitchens For Good: Stirring up "Food As Medicine"

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Kitchens For Good: Stirring up “Food As Medicine”

Our health and our personal wellbeing starts in our homes, schools, workplaces, neighborhoods, and communities. We know that taking care of ourselves by eating well and staying active, not smoking, getting the recommended screening tests, and seeing a doctor when we are sick all influence our health. But our health and wellbeing are also determined in a much greater part by access to social and economic opportunities; the resources and support available in our homes, neighborhoods, and communities; the quality of our schooling; the safety of our workplaces; the cleanliness of our water, food, and air; and the nature of our social interactions and relationships.

When a young man grows up in a community with only gang members as role models, when a young woman and her mother are abused by their husbands and fathers, when a young father is addicted to drugs and fails to be the role model to his son that he wished he could be, when one’s self worth is defined only by prior actions and poor choices, and with no clear path forward---this is where “Project Launch”, a culinary apprenticeship program at Kitchens For Good (KFG) has come in to change lives, and enhance personal and community wellbeing---using food as medicine, nourishing both the body and the soul. Food is a common denominator, a leveling force; and with proper training and hard work, it can provide an economic opportunity to build not just a job, but a career.

Attending the Class 11 graduation ceremony and celebration at KFG was the equivalent of being enveloped with the “attitude of gratitude” described by Chuck Samuelson, KFG’s founder and president; it was a humbling and powerful experience. The “attitude” in the room, shared by the alumni and graduates, was an unfolding of personal experience and growth that brought good people out of bad circumstances and cycles of addiction, abuse, and incarceration. The stewards of the journey are the staff, chefs, and leadership at KFG, and the returning alumni, who continue to demonstrate genuine caring, communication, motivation, and support. Graduates are encouraged to have persistence and embrace hard work, to set goals, have dreams, build trust, and follow through---and to help each other via positive social interaction and relationships going forward.

“We are teaching knife skills and life skills.”

KFG’s culinary apprenticeship program prepares unemployed individuals to thrive in careers in the food-service industry and beyond. The intensive 12-week training programs take a “whole-person” approach to vocational training, incorporating culinary arts, nutrition education, interpersonal skills, resume writing, and financial literacy. Students practice their culinary skills and give back to the community during classes by preparing healthy meals that are distributed to hunger relief agencies.

“At about 4-5 weeks into the program, we start to see a transformation in student demeanor to “I got this” - “I can do this” - “I see the path forward” - “I got this!”

KFG’s mission is to break the cycles of food waste, poverty, and hunger through innovative programs in workforce training, healthy meal production, and social enterprise. KFG not only operates community kitchens that provide culinary job training for the unemployed, but also simultaneously transforms cosmetically imperfect produce into nutritious meals for the hungry. In addition to tackling issues of food waste, hunger and unemployment, KFG ensures is own financial sustainability through its social enterprise catering, which generates revenue to support programs and creates on the job training opportunities for culinary students.

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San Diego Food System Alliance is collaborating to raise awareness about food waste reduction and recovery. Visit Save The Food San Diego.

Post by Barbara Hamilton, Director of Strategic Initiatives

June 4th SDFSA Community Event! 2018 Healthy Food Access Forum: Value of CalFresh for the Local Food Economy

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2018 Healthy Food Access Forum: Value of CalFresh for the Local Food Economy

Monday June 4th 9:30am-2pm
Jacobs & Cushman San Diego Food Bank

9850 Distribution Ave, San Diego, CA 92121

Join us at our June Community Event to learn about some of the innovative local healthy food programming leveraging CalFresh in grocery stores, farmers markets, etc as well as rally around the need to protect CalFresh in our community!

Visit our event website for more information on the event!
http://www.sdfsa.org/2018healthyfoodaccessforum-calfresh/

Watch recap of our 2017 Farm Bill Forum from last year!

Act Now! Advocate for a Better 2018 Farm Bill for San Diego Families and Farmers  

Act Now! Advocate for a Better 2018 Farm Bill for San Diego Families and Farmers

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The Farm Bill is a massive bill passed by Congress roughly every five years. The Farm Bill affects every corner of the American food system, from what food farmers grow, to whether affordable, healthy food is available in your community, and how to address food security (see recap from SD Farm Bill Forum last year for more info).

Yesterday, the House Agriculture Committee passed a draft of the 2018 Farm Bill on a straight party-line vote (26-20). According to the analysis by Food Policy Action, this legislation:

  • Puts harsh new restrictions on SNAP for San Diegans
  • Defunds innovative local and regional San Diego food systems programs
  • Creates a race to the bottom for food labeling and production standards
  • Cuts conservation programs
  • Inserts new loopholes to commodity subsidy and crop insurance programs
  • Creates reckless new pesticide loopholes

All of these changes are bad for San Diegans!

The proposed changes in SNAP will hurt San Diego families. “The current average CalFresh benefit per person is $4.10 per day. This amount already isn’t enough. These changes will be devastating to our region’s most vulnerable populations, many of whom are working hard but falling short due to low wages and San Diego County’s high cost of living. CalFresh/SNAP helps people cover the basic need of putting food on the table so they can get back on their feet more quickly,” said San Diego Hunger Coalition Executive Director Anahid Brakke (more here).

The cuts proposed to conservation programs will also hurt San Diego farmers. “San Diego farmers get matching grants through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) for improving habitat, erosion protection, irrigation, and mulching to reduce water usage,” stated Eric Larson, Executive Director of the San Diego County Farm Bureau, a Voting Member of San Diego Food System Alliance, in an article on Edible San Diego.

Take Action Now for San Diego Families and Farmers!

The House of Representatives may consider this bill for a final vote within the next few weeks, so this is a crucial time for our Representatives to hear from you.

1. Call your representatives TODAY to "Oppose the Proposed Farm Bill and Request for a Bi-Partisan Farm Bill that Protects San Diego Families and Small Farmers"!

Find your representative by zip code:
https://ziplook.house.gov/htbin/findrep_house

2. Sign-on to a national coalition being organized by the Farm to Fork Initiative in the next few days (www.betterfarmbill.org).

Save The Date:

San Diego Food System Alliance and partners will be organizing an event on Monday June 4th 2018 Healthy Food Access Forum: Value of CalFresh for the Local Food Economy. Save the date and join us to advocate for a healthier food system in San Diego!

Spring Fisherman Highlight: Jordyn Kastlunger

For the Spring 2018 issue of San Diego Food System Spotlights, we interviewed local fisher(wo)man, Jordyn Kastlunger, about her fishing business and her desire to educate the community about the variety of local seafood San Diego has to offer.

1.     Please share the history of your fishing business.

I started fishing when I was very young because I grew up in a fishing family. My grandpa was a commercial fisherman and my dad still is, so I’ve been doing this since I was a kid. I’ve been selling fish at the Tuna Harbor Dockside Market for about 4 years and I love having the opportunity to sell what I catch alongside my dad and other second and third generation fishing families. I was inspired to break out on my own through local farmers markets, so this was my first week at the North Park Farmer’s Market on Thursdays.

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2.     Why are you committed to local fishing?

I’m committed to this work because I believe it’s so important to share how fish get to your plate. People buy fish in grocery stores and order seafood dishes in restaurants without thinking about the story behind them. As a fisher(wo)man, I know that some days we can catch 10-12 fish and the next day, we’ll catch nothing. I want to bring that awareness and education to consumers so they have a better understanding of the challenges and rewards of local fishing.

I love promoting and selling my local products at markets because it gives me the chance to talk directly to consumers, giving them a different, more personal, perspective on what they’re purchasing. It gives them the opportunity to get to know the person behind their meal and it gives me the opportunity to share my passion with others.

3.     What is your vision for your business?

I’m excited to see the growing potential for fresh, local caught seafood. The public is showing high interest and strong demand and they finally have a place to get it. My goal is to continue fishing with my dad, working at Tuna Harbor and selling at the North Park Famer’s Market. After this year, I hope to expand into more farmer’s markets.

4.     What are the biggest challenges for your business?

The challenges vary on a weekly basis based on supply and demand. One week can be full of great catches and the next can be really slow. Weather presents another challenge since the markets are outdoors (rain or shine). It’s much harder getting San Diegans to show up to buy fish on the sporadic, but occasional, cold and rainy days.

5.     What do fishermen need to succeed? 

To be successful we need to get our name out there. Word of mouth is the best referral and is integral to our business. San Diego needs some awareness building and education around local seafood and what our waters have to offer. It would be great to work closely with restaurants to educate consumers.   

6.     What would you like San Diegans to know?

I want to bring awareness to the availability and variety of seafood in San Diego. Everyone knows and loves salmon, but salmon doesn’t come from San Diego. People don’t realize there are 130+ species coming in on a regular basis. Everything I catch is fresh from the waters of San Diego. I want our community to know there are so many other options out there and expand on their tastes, try something new!

7.     What are you selling this week?

At the farmer’s market I sold crab, sea urchin, halibut and mackerel.

8.     What are your favorites to eat?

Swordfish, shark, rockcod, halibut and yellowtail.

9.     Any other thoughts you’d like to share?

I’ve always been a fan of sharing the story of how your seafood gets to you. I’m excited to continue sharing that story in hopes that more people support local fisherman and reap the benefits of eating local seafood.

You can find Jordyn at Tuna Harbor Dockside Market on Saturdays selling fish sandwiches at Loaf & Fish or at the North Park Farmer’s Markets on Thursdays selling her fresh catch.

 

 

 

 

Good Food District at a Critical Juncture: Land for Sale

Unexpected and Accelerated Sale of Two Key Properties in the Good Food District

The Good Food District in Southeast San Diego is at a critical juncture, with an unexpected “Land for Sale” signs posted on the Mt Hope Community Garden and the vacant lot across the street. These two pieces of property were centerpieces of the Good Food District regenerative place-making concept. The properties, owned by Civic San Diego, are accepting offers by April 12th with escrow scheduled to close by end of July. These properties have been vacant for decades and the accelerated timeline for sale of these two properties without community input is troubling for many of us invested in the growth of the Good Food District.

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 Property sale flyer by JLL (p.4)

Property sale flyer by JLL (p.4)

Good Food District, a Collective Agency for Developing an Alternative and Equitable Food Environment in Southeast San Diego

For the past year, San Diego Food System Alliance has been partnering with Project New Village to witness and support the evolution of the Good Food District in the neighborhoods of Mt Hope and Encanto in Southeast San Diego. Stories of the process employed to develop an alternative food system are captured in our quarterly “Food Leaders of the Good Food District” series (Issue 1, Issue 2, Issue 3, event recap). The Good Food District, facilitated by Project New Village, is a place-making approach which builds upon the assets within the community of Southeast San Diego: vacant lots, food entrepreneurs, residents, and other partners.

The Good Food District aims to enhance urban agriculture’s connection to economic opportunity by changing the relationship between how people sell and source their food. Project New Village is engaging with restaurants and retail outlets in the Good Food District to shift their urban agriculture production based on demand. On the consumer end, Project New Village is working to mobilize neighborhood leaders in their community to engage the community around good food while pushing back against gentrification. For Project New Village, “good food” is food that is sustainable, equitable, healthy, affordable, and accessible for all residents.  

The South-Side: Mt Hope Community Garden

The centerpiece of the Good Food District is the two properties owned by Civic San Diego. Project New Village has a long history with the “South-side” of the land. (Note that the “current use” of the property mentions “community garden” in the flyer below). Project New Village established the Mt. Hope Community Garden in 2011 on the one-third acre parcel of land with the support of City of San Diego Councilmembers Tony Young and Todd Gloria. It took two years for the garden to come to fruition during which Project New Village and others successfully advocated for landmark policy change that enabled other community gardens to exist in more places within the City of San Diego.

 Property sale flyer by JLL (p.3)

Property sale flyer by JLL (p.3)

 Mt Hope Community Garden Groundbreaking

Mt Hope Community Garden Groundbreaking

Advocacy was required to clear away the bureaucratic hurdle that kept the garden from being planted due to city zoning laws, prohibiting community gardens on land zoned for commercial use. After much due diligence from a county-wide coalition of supporters addressing community concerns via various public hearings and meetings on the issue; and a payment of $29,000 from the $50,000 allocated to Project New Village to cover cost for the City planning department, Project New Village broke ground for the Mt Hope Garden on September 28, 2011. The lease agreement for Mt Hope Community Garden triggered the beginning of deregulation of community gardens in the City of San Diego. Permit fees dropped from thousands of dollars to zero.

Mt Hope Community Garden is now a thriving community garden which many individuals often refer to as an inspiration and symbol for health and wellness. Diane Moss, Managing Director of Project New Village, reflects on the progress made to develop the garden and the community that’s been created around it.

“There was a woman in the neighborhood who was opposed to the garden in the beginning. She is now very involved. The people in this community really appreciate the garden in the neighborhood,” says Moss. For Ms. Moss, the garden is more than a place to grow fresh fruits and vegetables. It’s a place for residents to come together to discuss holistic solutions around health and wellness, band together to support each other and advocate for the food system they deserve. Southeast San Diego is often considered a food desert or a food swamp with lack of access to healthy food options.

 Diane Moss, Managing Director of Project New Village 

Diane Moss, Managing Director of Project New Village 

The North-Side: Healthy Food and Housing Complex

The last several years, Project New Village has been envisioning the use of the “North-side” property on Market Street to create a “Healthy Food and Housing Complex”. To develop the place-making concepts, Ms. Moss has been working with a set of experts in the Good Food District Advisory Committee including food maker business accelerator organization, planners, developers, county health department, area business improvement district, philanthropic organization, landscape architects, culinary programs, land use experts, community organizers, academicians, political representatives and human capital specialists.

The community garden and the desire to use the “North-side” property for healthy food access is consistent with the City of San Diego Southeastern San Diego Community Plan. The Community Plan “promotes development of spaces that can be occupied by fresh food retailers and policies that promote community gardens, urban gardening, and farmers’ markets”.

Access to healthy food and economic opportunity are vital components which should be addressed in development projects, particularly in the Good Food District. Food is about health, but it is also about community. We request the City of San Diego and Civic San Diego to engage with Project New Village and the Good Food District Advisory Committee to discuss the use of the two properties before soliciting proposals from developers. Project New Village’s history and the experiences working with residents on the use of the properties provides a unique perspective around creating win-win-win solutions for the residents of this community as well as the City. 

Contact

Contact: Diane Moss, Managing Director, Project New Village   d.moss28@yahoo.com

Food Leaders of the Good Food District- Issue 3: SDSU Students Advance the Mission

 The goals of Project New Village's Good Food District 

The goals of Project New Village's Good Food District 

The Good Food District is an initiative of Project New Village that uses food as a mechanism for improving quality of life and promoting resilience at the neighborhood-level. This semester San Diego State University students are bridging the gap between academia and on-the-ground endeavors; students enrolled in Geography 590 are actively conducting research on the impact of the alternative food system in the Good Food District, centered around urban agriculture, to remediate local social and environmental issues.

A Mutually-beneficial Partnership

The relationship between Project New Village and SDSU students is mutualistic, just like the microorganisms that thrive in the healthy soil of a well-cared for garden. PNV will benefit from the data collected through the class and will be able to use this information to apply for grants that would allow it to achieve its long-term objectives and shape other related projects. Students, on the other hand, have the unique opportunity to practice community-based geographic research while advancing food justice in Southeastern San Diego.

This is not the first time that Professor Joassart-Marcelli – the course instructor - collaborates with Project New Village to provide students with hands-on research experience. A few years ago, students helped collect data that became the basis of a report: https://fep.sdsu.edu/Docs/Report.pdf

 Dianne Moss, Project New Village's Managing Director, speaks to students enrolled in Geography 590 at the Mount Hope Community Garden.

Dianne Moss, Project New Village's Managing Director, speaks to students enrolled in Geography 590 at the Mount Hope Community Garden.

At the first class meeting, students met with Diane Moss, the Managing Director of Project New Village. She gave them a brief overview on the history of the area and explained some of the key issues the Good Food District aims to address, such as the prevalence of diet-related illnesses and the limited capacity for economically-strained businesses to procure local produce. Rather than making assumptions, students are encouraged to listen to community members and ensure that the evaluation process is both inclusive and participatory.

Course structure: Phases 1, 2, and 3

The course is structured so that students can choose to investigate a topic related to the Good Food District that most interests them. The areas of focus include: Health and Food Security; Sustainability and Ecosystem Services; Community Cohesion, Sense of Place, and Civic Participation; and Food Economies.

Before students begin their fieldwork, they reviewed the literature already available on the topic. This helped them to select a specific research question, identify a promising approach, and become familiar with what is already known on their topic of interest. They then explored existing public sources of data such as the US Census, Google Earth, public health surveys, and the SDSU Food Environment Audit. These preliminary steps ensure that students become familiar with the neighborhood’s conditions and have a preliminary understanding of its needs before going out in the community to collect additional data.

 A bed of greens at the Mount Hope Community Garden.

A bed of greens at the Mount Hope Community Garden.

Can community gardens be an environmentally sustainable way to obtain nutritional food in an urban setting? Is there sufficient purchasing power in the community for businesses to source local produce, which is often more expensive? These are the types of critical questions that students are seeking to answer throughout the course of their research. To this end, they have began collecting data in a variety of ways including storytelling, food environmental audits, restaurant and shop owner interviews, garden audits, and participant observation.

Desired Outcomes

The course culminates with the choice of completing a Powerpoint presentation or a written report. Instructor Pascale Joassart-Marcelli is optimistic that the data collected can be used as a baseline for future research. This is the first step of data collection, and she hopes the information can be used in the future to track the positive change the Good Food District is generating in the community. Geography 590 appears to be a win-win for both SDSU students and Southeastern San Diego residents. Students have the opportunity to engage in a practical application of their coursework-- observing first-hand the impacts of urban gardens and personally contributing to research that will ideally help sustain them. As a result of the students’ efforts, Project New Village will have access to an abundance of data that may enable the organization to broaden its impact. “What the students are doing is really interesting from an academic perspective, but it’s also really important in terms of policy and social change,” says Professor Joassart-Marcelli. “Southeastern San Diego is a unique community that has historically been neglected; it has higher needs than most of the neighborhoods I’ve had a chance to work with, but there are also tremendous opportunities and a momentum to address some of these needs through food justice.” The partnership between SDSU and Project New Village sets a powerful example of how public institutions and nonprofits can leverage their respective strengths and work together to support and empower historically marginalized communities.

 Professor Joassart-Marcelli goes over the course syllabus with students at Mount Hope Community Garden.

Professor Joassart-Marcelli goes over the course syllabus with students at Mount Hope Community Garden.

Spring Grower Highlight: Bringing Point Loma to Valley Center

People can’t help but resist change – it is in our nature. Most people go with what is comfortable or easy and focus more on what they have to give up, instead of what they have to gain. It’s a rarity to find people brave enough to embrace change. After speaking with Steve Reeb of Point Loma Farms in Valley Center, I can tell you firsthand that is not the case with the Reeb family.

 Steve and his father, Paul Reeb 

Steve and his father, Paul Reeb 

For most farmers, farming has been in their family for generations. But to Steve’s family, it was something new. Originally from the seaside community of Point Loma, hence the farm’s namesake, the Reeb family has Steve to thank for getting them involved in agriculture. He graduated from UC Santa Cruz, earning a degree in Environmental Studies with a concentration in Agriculture. His interest in agriculture had him growing variations of micro and leafy greens for his family and taking small orders for local restaurants such as The Red Door and Tender Greens. After exhausting the small urban plots in the backyards of family and friends, Steve began looking for a farm to move their thriving business. “As a family we had been looking for a long time for property, and the Valley center property just happened to be the one. We weren’t specifically looking for property in Valley Center, but we are sure are glad that’s where we ended up!” Steve describes.

Steve, his wife and new baby, and his parents have been running Point Loma Farms on their 9 1⁄2 acre place in Valley Center for about five years now. He believes the best part of farming in San Diego County, especially North County, is the fact that farmers are located between two very large populations of people (LA and SD). Steve describes, “It really allows small growers to find a niche market to succeed in. As a farmer I feel you do not need to be afraid to try new things. San Diego is so unique in terms of our climate and large customer potential, that a grower can get very creative with a small piece of land to make a farm business work.” 

Point Loma Farms currently grow organic vegetables, persimmons, avocados, and a variety of citrus. Or if you ask Steve, “a few of a lot of things.” A unique feature of Point Loma Farms is their crop zoning and rotating systems. Steve explains that the zones they have on their farm help them stay organized. “We have four zones where we grow our row crops on the farm, which are inter-planted between the grapefruit and persimmons. Each zone is equal in size and enables us to plan the quantities of our various crops. We can estimate the production, which is extremely helpful when we do sales,” Steve said. Typically they try to receive the commitments from their buyers, who are mainly restaurants, before they plant the variation of their vegetables. Confirmation from the restaurants dictates what to plant and how many plants they will need to satisfy their customers.

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The Reeb family and one part-time employee run the show, even delivering product to their buyers. As Steve puts it, “I feel our working relationships with our buyers is very special because it is a direct connection. We grow it, pick it, pack it and deliver it. If there are ever any issues with the product or something the chefs would like to try, we can just talk face to face and figure it out.” The feedback and discussion also assist in dictating the product they will grow next. The Reeb family doesn’t have a fear of the unknown. If a buyer would like a certain type of vegetable or protein grown, within reason, the Reeb’s will do their best in trying it out. If it fails, they won’t grow it again or will figure out what needs to be done to make it successful the next time. Steve feels that it is that direct interaction that is vital to creating the connection of where and how food is grown. “It is translated to them by the product that is presented as an end result,” says Steve.

Among their groves, the Reeb’s also have laying hens who are placed in rotational pens. There are three separate rotational groups: the chicks, the not-quite-at-laying age hens, and then the aged laying hens. Point Loma supplies their buyers with fresh eggs and (eventually) fresh chicken. They also have a small herd of Nubian, Pygmy, and Nigerian goats that Steve explained will be used for milking and making cheese in the near future. One of their newer ventures is meat rabbits. They have two rows of hutches that house their New Zealand rabbits. These will be bred and then the offspring will be sold to local restaurants.

So what’s next for Point Loma Farms? Steve has a wide variety of plans, all of them being new ventures. He has seen an expanding market in blackberries, and plans to phase out some of the row crops and diving into growing three different varieties. As for long term plans, Steve sees the farm phasing into growing hops and producing wine grapes in the future. Because to the Reeb’s, progress is impossible without change. 

BY TAYLOR ZUMSTEIN, SAN DIEGO COUNTY FARM BUREAU 

CA Food Waste Prevention Week

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It’s Food Waste Prevention Week in California, and all across San Diego County leaders and City Councils are proclaiming that food waste is an issue---and there is something that each of us can do about it.

The County Supervisors, the City of San Diego, the City of Del Mar, the City of San Marcos, and the City of Chula Vista all passed Proclamations for Food Waste Prevention Week in order to acknowledge and support the San Diego Food System Alliance’s “Save the Food San Diego” initiative, to encourage all residents to minimize their footprint, and to visit www.SaveTheFood.com for tips, tricks, and recipes to help reduce wasted food, and save money, too.

Addressing wasted food is one of the key issues for the San Diego Food System Alliance (SDFSA). Nearly half a million people in our region are food insecure, while around 500,000 tons of food in the county is disposed to landfill each year. After individuals, consumer-facing businesses are the largest contributor to food waste.

We understand that with recent California legislation, AB 1826 and SB 1383, that our local jurisdictions are faced with the challenges of reducing food waste generated and increasing edible food donation. But they can help, by supporting staff involvement in “Save The Food San Diego”, a county-wide food waste awareness partnership that leverages the national “Save The Food” public service campaign, a partnership with NRDC and the Ad Council.

Although planning efforts are underway, in San Diego County we do not have robust systems in place to compost or digest food waste. This leaves us in a unique position to work on reduction and donation as a priority first step before new infrastructure and systems are finalized---which is the preferred strategy for highest and best use of resources.  

Food waste is a significant issue in California.

·        The United States is losing up to 40% of its food from farm, to fork, to landfill. Uneaten food wastes enormous quantities of precious land, water, energy, fertilizer, human resources and money.

·        In California, nearly 5 million people are food insecure, lacking consistent access to enough food. Roughly 1 in 8 Californians are experiencing hunger, and 1 in 5 of those are children. 

·        Food waste also represents the largest single category of waste in landfills in the US. Food waste decaying in landfills emits methane, a powerful greenhouse gas linked to climate change.

During this week, a range of partners statewide will come together to raise awareness about the impacts of food waste in our homes, workplaces, and communities.  

Governor Jerry Brown has issued a letter of support and several state agencies have announced the week of March 5-9, 2018 as California’s first Food Waste Prevention Week.  Happening in March to coincide with National Nutrition Month, partners nationwide are urging everyone to Go Further with Food.  According to the California Department of Resources, Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle), Californians throw away nearly 12 billion pounds of food each year, wasting precious land, water, energy, and human resources and contributing about 18 percent of all the material that goes to our landfills.

While many people may not think much of tossing food in the trash, consumers are responsible for more wasted food than farms, grocery stores, or restaurants.  Forty percent of all food thrown out happens at the individual or household level.  Unused food can add up financially for families.  The Natural Resources Defense Council estimates that an average family of four tosses out about 1,000 pounds of food each year, wasting roughly $1,500. 

There are other costs from our unused food.  The United States is losing up to 40% of its food from farm, to fork, to landfill. That translates to $218 billion lost including costs of food to consumers and retailers, as well as wasted water, energy, fertilizer, cropland, production and transportation. When food decomposes in landfills, it releases methane gas - a climate pollutant 80 times more potent than carbon dioxide (CO2).

The quality and amount of food that people eat each day play a vital role in health and wellbeing.  A 2014 USDA report estimated that a staggering 1,249 calories per person, per day in the United States are wasted—more than enough to feed all the 1 in 8 Californians currently experiencing hunger and food insecurity.  That nutrition loss could have fed people, not landfills, if only it had been used, instead of tossed.  According to Feeding America, over 4.8 million Californians experience hunger or food insecurity, over 1.8 million of whom are children. 

Reducing food waste requires action by partners throughout the food system, including food growers, processors, and retailers. But it also requires action from all individuals as well as agencies, organizations, businesses, and community groups. 

Incorporating a few simple food waste prevention actions - such as freezing food and using leftovers – can immediately help reduce food waste. 

To learn more, please visit Save The Food and Save The Food San Diego!

 

Post by Barbara Hamilton, Director of Strategic Initiatives