We're Hiring! Director of Strategic Initiatives - Food Waste Reduction and Recovery

We are thrilled to announce that the San Diego Food System Alliance is hiring a full-time Director of Strategic Initiatives in an effort to move the needle on food waste in San Diego County, prioritizing the top two tiers of the food recovery hierarchy (reduction and recovery for people). With strong state mandates (AB1826 and SB1383) on the books, we are excited about the potential that this full-time role presents to strategically reduce food waste and support food recovery efforts for our region.

We are aiming to fill the position by the first or second week of January.



Oct 1 st, 2016
Contact: Elly Brown 919-328-0046  elly@sdfsa.org 
Website: http://www.sdfsa.org/


SAN DIEGO, CA – Five groups and four community leaders in San Diego County were awarded the 2016 EMIES, Unwasted Food Awards at the San Diego Food System Alliance 2nd Food Waste Solution Summit on Tuesday, September 27th 2016. The EMIES awards were created to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act, championed by Congressman Bill Emerson, to encourage donation of food and grocery products to non-profit organizations for distribution to individuals in need. Congressman Emerson died suddenly just before the bill was signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1996. The award aims to uphold his legacy of fighting food waste and hunger.

EMIES awards were selected based on exemplary practices around preventing wastefood donation, and composting/ recycling. Five groups recognized included barleymashCulinart Group and Francis Parker SchoolSDSU Dining, Sharp HealthCare, San Diego County Regional Airport Authority. The EMIES awards also recognized four community leaders championing food waste issues at a regional level including San Diego County Supervisor Ron Roberts andSupervisor Greg Cox for their food system initiatives, Supervisor Dave Roberts for zero waste initiatives, and City of Oceanside Deputy Mayor Chuck Lowery. Deputy Mayor Chuck Lowery has recently championed the investment of $400k in a kitchen facility at a senior center in Oceanside to rescue and process food that would otherwise go to waste.

“We aim to retire the idea of waste from the dictionary when it comes to food,” says Richard Winker, Co-Chair of the San Diego Food System Alliance Food Recovery Working Group and chair of the EMIES awards committee.

“This is a timely opportunity to promote food establishments that are doing great work around food waste,” says Elly Brown, Director of San Diego Food System Alliance. “The state mandate on food and yard waste recycling (AB1826) rolled out this April. But innovations to keep the food from going into the green bin are important because we don't have the systems in place yet. We also can't forget that 1/7 individuals in San Diego County are food insecure and there's a lot of edible food being thrown out.”

More information on innovative food waste practices by awardees and applicants are available on the 2016 EMIES site athttp://www.sdfsa.org/emies-awards/

From left to right: Ana Carvalho of City of San Diego, Elly Brown of San Diego Food System Alliance, Mayra Garcia and colleagues of San Diego County Regional Airport Authority, Renee Huslin of Sharp HealthCare, Paul Melchior of SDSU Dining, Mike Cain and Jose Santiago of Francis Parker School, Executive Chef Kevin Templeton of Barleymash, and Richard Winkler of San Diego Food System Alliance


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If you would like more information and photos, please contact Elly Brown at 919-328-0046 or email at elly@sdfsa.org 

About the San Diego Food System Alliance:
The San Diego Food System Alliance is a coalition of organizations and individuals organized to affect positive change in the San Diego County's local food system. Our mission is to develop and maintain an equitable, healthy and sustainable food system for the benefit of all people in San Diego County. 


Elly Brown, Director of San Diego Food System Alliance
Richard Winkler, Co-Chair of Alliance’s Food Recovery Working Group

By now you have probably been hearing a lot about food waste; like the fact that we waste about 40% of our food supply while millions of people don’t have enough to eat. September is Hunger Action Month and it’s timely to dive into this issue further.

The first step towards solving this is to understand that although we waste food, there is really no such thing as food “waste”. The word waste indicates something of no value, something we want to get rid of. But all food has value, at every step of its lifecycle. Food feeds people but it can also feed farm animals and soil. Even when it is past edibility, it feeds microorganisms that convert it into compost, recapturing the nutrients that feed plants. Healthy soil absorbs carbon from the atmosphere helping to mitigate climate change, and stores water, providing resilience against drought.  But when we treat food as if it were waste by putting it in landfills, it decomposes anaerobically and gives off methane, a much more potent GHG than CO2.

Many food-serving organizations in San Diego are demonstrating leadership in recapturing the value embedded in food.  Some of these leaders will be recognized with “Emies” awards to be given out on Tuesday, September 27th at the Food Waste Solution Summit II at the Jacobs Center organized by the San Diego Food System Alliance.

These awards were created to celebrate the 20th anniversary of “The Federal Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act”, championed by Congressman Bill Emerson, to encourage donation of food and grocery products to non-profit organizations for distribution to individuals in need. Congressman Emerson died suddenly just before the bill was signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1996. The award aims to uphold his legacy of fighting food waste and hunger.

Following are recent larger efforts in San Diego County that move us closer to eliminating wasted food:

  • AB 1826, a state law mandating recycling of organic matter (food and yard materials), began implementation on April 2016 for the largest generators. SB1383 will be signed by Governor Brown this summer which mandates 75% organics diversion by 2025 with more monitoring by local governments.
  • The City of San Diego’s Miramar Greenery collects food for composting from approx. 80 large entities.
  • Specialty Produce, a wholesale produce distributor with over 800 restaurant customers all over the county recently launched Waste Not San Diego, a food recovery program. Leveraging their supply chain to reduce wasted food, the program allows participating restaurants to donate surplus prepared food which is distributed to nonprofit partners of the J&C San Diego Food Bank.
  • Starbucks just launched their food donation program, FoodShare, across 190 locations in San Diego County to provide unsold prepared food to Feeding America San Diego.
  • City of Oceanside is investing in a kitchen and processing facility in a senior center with the goal of processing food that would otherwise go to waste to create nutritious meals for food insecure individuals (at-risk youth, veterans, seniors, school feeding programs, etc).
  • The County is now developing a high-waste diversion and climate action plans with opportunities to include best practices to prevent waste and recapture the value of food, while building healthier soils. 

The Food Waste Solution Summit II on Tuesday, September 27th is a convening of advocates and multi-sector leaders in San Diego County committed to retiring the idea of waste when it comes to food. Our objective is to celebrate wins and strategize key actions to make a dent in the 700k tons of food going into landfill in San Diego County, recapturing the value of food for people, animals, and soil. Speakers include Chris Hunt of Rethink Food Waste though Economics and Data (ReFED), Darby Hoover of National Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Hana Dansky of Boulder Food Rescue, Jordan Perkins of Solutions for Urban Ag, Brenda Platt of Institute for Local Self-Reliance, Cassie Bartholomew of StopWaste, Andre Villasenor of EPA, Jordan Figueiredo of #UglyReallyIsBeautiful, Elly Brown of San Diego Food System Alliance, Michael Wonsidler of County of San Diego, Jen Winfrey of County of San Diego, Mina Brown, Ana Carvalho of City of San Diego, Chuck Samuelson of Kitchens for Good, Jim Floros of San Diego Food Bank, Diane Moss of Project New Village, Richard Winkler of Victory Gardens, Nita Kurmins of ProduceGood, Karen Melvin of County of San Diego, Sarah Boltwala-Mesina and Susan Chambers of Inika Small Earth, Tracy Delaney of Public Health Alliance of Southern California, Diane Wilkinson of Hunger Advocacy Network, Allie Tarantino of Specialty Produce, Sarah Davis of City of Oceanside, Rich Flammer of Hidden ResourcesJessica Toth of Solana Center, Dave DiDonato of City of Chula Vista, Eric Larson of San Diego County Farm Bureau, Bill Prinz of City of San Diego, Joe Farace of County of San Diego, and many other event supporters!

The Summit will explore the following 7 Calls to Action for San Diego County

  1. County and Cities to invest in consumer education campaigns to change mindsets on wasting food
  2. County and Cities to incorporate carbon farming (roots), zero waste, and local foodshed strategies in Climate Action Plans
  3. County, Cities, and other public entities to dedicate land and other resources to grow food for donation
  4. County and Cities to proactively create economic incentives for food recovery and composting
  5. SANDAG or County to develop model zoning language to facilitate composting of all sizes
  6. County, Cities, and the private sector to proactively source imperfect produce
  7. Private sector and local government food service operations to prioritize source reduction and food recovery as it pertains to compliance with AB1826 and SB1383

The Summit also hosts a morning workshop from 8:30am-noon specifically targeted for food-serving entities to provide information, tools, and connections to support their food waste practices. The workshop offers in-depth guidance on food waste prevention, connections to community resources on donation, animal feed and composting, and a facilitated peer-learning session. Tickets can be purchased separately for the food waste workshop only if desired.

The event is sponsored by San Diego Food Bank, County Board of Supervisor Chairman Ron Roberts Community Enhancement Program, CalRecycle, Integrated Waste Management Technical Advisory Committee, County of San Diego Public Works Solid Waste Planning and Recycling, EDCO Disposal, City of Chula Vista Environmental Services Section, City of San Diego Environmental Services Department, and Feeding America San Diego, and UCSD. 

Detailed schedule and tickets are available on the Summit page:


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Media Inquiries:
Elly Brown
(919) 328-0046

Event Inquiries:
Marites Nguyen


About the San Diego Food System Alliance:
The San Diego Food System Alliance is a coalition of organizations and individuals organized to affect positive change in the San Diego County's local food system. Our mission is to develop and maintain an equitable, healthy and sustainable food system for the benefit of all people in San Diego County. 

Call for Nominations: "Emies" Unwasted Food Awards for businesses and institutions | Due Sept 7


AN DIEGO, CA –  San Diego Food System Alliance solicits nominations for "Emies" Unwasted Food Awards 2016 to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act. The Good Samaritan Food Donation Act was created to encourage food donation to nonprofit organizations by minimizing liability. Signed into United States law by President Bill Clinton in 1996, this law, named after Representative Bill Emerson (who encouraged the proposal but died before it was passed), makes it easier to donate 'apparently wholesome food' by excluding donor liability except in cases of gross negligence. 

The Alliance is soliciting nominations from businesses and institutions in San Diego County who are demonstrating exemplary food waste practices. Awardees will be recognized at the upcoming Food Waste Solution Summit II at the Jacobs Center on Tuesday, September 27, 2016. The awardees will also have an opportunity to share their practices with their peers at the Pre-Summit Unwasted FoodWorkshop from 8:30am-noon, targeted towards businesses and institutions. The Workshop will offer an in-depth guidance on preventing food waste by StopWaste and EPA, connections to community resources on food donation, animal feed and composting, and a facilitated peer-learning session by sector. 

Submittals for "Emies" nominations are due by Wednesday, September 7, 2016 and will be considered by sector: K-12 Schools, Institutions/Large Venues, Food Industry, Farms, and Meal Service Programs. Organizations will be asked to describe current practices in any of the following categories: Preventing Waste, Food Donation, and Composting/Recycling. Applications that demonstrate activities higher on the Unwasted Food Hierarchy Pyramid (above) will be ranked higher. The pyramid demonstrates the highest and best use for food. Self-nominations are accepted. 

This is a timely opportunity to promote food establishments that are doing great work around food waste," says Elly Brown, Director of San Diego Food System Alliance. "The state law on food and yard waste recycling (AB1826) rolled out this April. But innovations to keep the food from going into the green bin is important because we don't have the systems in place yet. We also can't forget that 1/7 individuals in San Diego County are food insecure and there's a lot of edible food being thrown out."

"Emies" Unwasted Food Awards applications are available online at (due 9/7): http://www.sdfsa.org/emies-awards/ 
Registration for 9/27 Food Waste Solution Summit II + Pre-Summit Unwasted Food Workshop for businesses and institutions is available online at: 

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If you would like more information, please contact Elly Brown at 919-328-0046 or email at elly@sdfsa.org

About the San Diego Food System Alliance:


The San Diego Food System Alliance is a coalition of organizations and individuals organized to affect positive change in the San Diego County's local food system. Our mission is to develop and maintain an equitable, healthy and sustainable food system for the benefit of all people in San Diego County. 

Member Highlights: Harvest Crops on Track to Glean 100K Pounds in 2016

Harvest C.R.O.P.S. (Community Residents Offering Produce Seasonally) is currently gleaning at over 3 ½ times volume from last year.  The first quarter of 2016 had a yield of 27,212 lbs vs. 2015 annual total at 31,150 lbs.  Our first quarter also showed the increase in the wonderful people that are helping make this happen with 30 residents donating their bounty and 231 volunteers spending multiple hours picking. 

To handle this surge we are now offering a number of different ways to volunteer such as businesses doing team building events, food pantries providing their own volunteers to pick locally and transport directly back to their pantry for distribution to those they serve.  We are engaging with large youth organizations in San Diego County to provide programs for gleaning as well as learning about waste, food recovery opportunities and being of service to those that need it.

Besides adding to our Volunteer drive we are in need of operational funds.  We are still borrowing the Founders truck and trailer and are in need of funds to pay for the additional gas, office equipment and volunteer insurance that we need to meet the growing demand.  We provide a value added service when monetarily valued at $.75 cents per pound we have already added over $20K worth of food to the existing food stream this year with a potential of over $81K for 2016 at our current rate.

We are putting out a call to organizations that have existing public information materials they are willing to share.  We need curriculum and marketing materials for adults as well as 4th through 12th graders.  These materials are needed no later than the end of April 2016 for curriculum selection and prep for the start of our summer programs in June 2016.  We are interested in teaching about the EPA’s Food Recovery Hierarchy and how the public can actually do something to help feed those that need it.

Please help us with our mission to help feed the hungry of San Diego County.  Thank you for your support.


Karen Clay

Chair, Harvest C.R.O.P.S.

Member Highlights: Ecology Artisans- San Diego’s First Public Food Forest

Ecology Artisans is proud to announce the completion of their water harvesting earthworks project at Coastal Roots Farm in Encinitas. Ecology Artisans was contracted by the Leichtag Foundation and Coastal Roots to pioneer the installation of San Diego County’s first public food forest.

For those of you who are not familiar with our company, Ecology Artisans is an ecological landscape and farmland design and development firm.  Now what does that mean? We work with homeowners, farmers, real estate developers, governments, and many other stakeholders to create regenerative living and built systems for their homes and farms.

We have been installing drought tolerant landscapes for homeowners throughout San Diego for the past two years. We have also been working with farmers and homesteaders to drought proof their lands and install resilient food production systems. We were very excited to partner with the Coastal Roots farming team to help kick start their public food forest project.

Coastal Roots Farm is a non-profit community farm that is being incubated by the Leichtag Foundation. The Leichtag Foundation Commons is a farm located on 441 Saxony Rd. in Encinitas, CA. Together, the Leichtag Foundation and Coastal Roots Farm are developing an amazing community farming project that is going to be a world class model for sustainable community development for generations to come.

Coastal Roots mission is to nourish connections—to ourselves, our neighbors, and the land. Inspired by Jewish wisdom and centuries-old agricultural traditions, Coastal Roots practices sustainable farming and shares their harvests with communities that lack access to healthy food. Their goal is to become a model for community farming and creative Jewish expression, both at home in Encinitas, California, and around the world.

The farm team hired Ecology Artisans to design and install the earthworks pattern for their future agroforestry/food forest project. At Ecology Artisans, we like to say that water management earthworks provide the whole pattern for the farm.

What are water harvesting earthworks you might ask? Water harvesting earthworks come in many different forms. There are swales, irrigation channels, water conversations channels, infiltration basins, dams, and many more forms of structures to harvest water directly in the soil. In the simplest description, earthworks are structures in the soils that are meant to alter the water pattern to achieve certain goals of moving water to a specific site (usually a drier site) or allowing it to remain on site (i.e. a dam).

Farming in a Mediterranean climate can be tough. With seasonal rains in the winter and long dry summers, farmers needs to capture as much rain as possible on their land during the dry spells. The goal with any water harvesting project are to slow the water down, spread it out, and sink it down in the soil profile. The act of slowing it down, spreading it out, and sinking it into the ground will dramatically improve the water budget for the whole site by increasing height of the water table.

Above is an aerial photo of the earthworks that we installed courtesy of the Josh Sherman of the Coastal Roots Farm communications team. 

Member Highlights: Wild Willow Farm - Food and the Value of Culture

by Mel Lions

Through every phase of human development, food has been central to human cultural identity. In every culture, everywhere, through all time, whenever humans come together in cultural moments, there is food. From our births to our deaths, in every family and civic celebration, for religious and secular holidays, at sporting and entertainment events, there is always food. If you’ve gathered with others and there’s no food there, you’re at a meeting.

Family and cultural heritage are strung together, meal by meal, with recipes from our ancestors. Food provides us cultural memory and enriches our lives as we share our heritage with other cultures. We know ourselves and each other through food. 

Throughout history, it has been common practice for humanity to express the value of culture by saving the best of our agricultural output for celebratory feasts. The freshest produce, the ripest fruit, the prize bull, the most-wholesome of grains. These were set aside for the moments when it mattered. 

What matters to our culture?

If I am forced to use food as the scale to judge the value placed on 21st-Century American culture, I’d say that we don’t have a high opinion of ourselves. We seem to value cheap food, no matter the cost. Over the span of just a few generations, we’ve outsourced most food production and preparation to a food-service industry whose only goal is to minimize costs and maximize profit. Cheap food seems to be a cultural goal, but at what cost? 

When I was a kid and introduced to the concept of the potluck, probably at a church function, I remember my mom putting real care into preparing her famous ratatouille, which in the ‘60s, was a pretty exotic dish. It must have been summer, because that was the only time that special blend of summer-garden veggies was available. Mom’s dish was put on the banquet table alongside other mom’s dishes (it was the ‘60s, remember), each of which had been as carefully prepared. For whatever reason we were there, we feasted because it mattered. 

At any potluck these days, carefully and consciously prepared foods are a remarkable and welcome rarity, and always the first things devoured, even by the vast majority of those who took the cheap way and brought something packaged and preserved. What does that say about the value put on our culture when bringing a bag of chips fulfills a cultural obligation? It seems like we all know what quality is, but don’t necessarily understand the role quality and care has in keeping our culture together. Cheap food, cheap culture.

Cheap Food

Cheap food — or what’s better described as the illusion of cheap food — has many hidden costs. There is no other human activity that is more devastating to the environment than how we grow food. Industrial agriculture is a leading driver of habitat loss, including soil, water and air pollution from agricultural chemicals; fossil fuel use; genetic modifications to allow for increased pesticide and herbicide spraying; poisoned and depleted aquifers; disruption of climate patterns; rising sea levels; and loss of biodiversity. The poor-quality food that industry sells us is harmful to human health and provides mostly low wage jobs that tax social systems and which perpetuates an underclass. As food prices have dropped, these conditions have all been exacerbated. 

When environmental and human health costs are not paid for by the producers of these problems, it does not mean that the costs are not paid for; instead, the costs are outsourced. Most environmental costs, aside from those that we’re hoping nature will take of (thus climate change, the depletion of fisheries, unaddressed pollution), are born by taxpayers, who pay to clean up industrial messes (Exxon Valdez, BP’s Deepwater Horizon). Human healthcare costs have skyrocketed as our food system has cheapened, largely because the cheapest foods are high in sugar, fat, refined flours, artificial ingredients and preservatives. By all measures, our culture is in a race to the bottom, a race that has only losers. 

The Value of Fresh Food

By and large, our culture has lost touch with the value of fresh, whole, ripe, delicious seasonal food: Produce grown in our yards, or coming from nearby farms. Milk and cheese from local dairies. Bread and meat from neighborhood bakeries and butchers. While there has long been a global food trade, until recent decades this was restricted to non-perishable foods such as grain, legumes, spices and herbs. It is only in recent years — as we have lost the threads of a fresh food culture — has there been a global trade system in fresh produce. We used to know and celebrate the seasons by the food on grocer’s shelves. In today’s society, we expect to have everything we want, when we want it, no matter if it’s in season or not. Produce is selected, grown and picked not for flavor or nutrition, but for its ability to be shipped around the globe. That may look like a tomato on your sandwich in January, but it is really a pale, flavorless shadow of a real one. We’ve been tricked into accepting this as okay, and convinced that cheaper is better. 

One rap that fresh, whole, delicious, locally grown food often gets is that it is elitist, that only the well-off can afford it. That argument has some legs as long as we — as a culture — accept that the producers of cheap food do not have to bear the social and environmental costs of providing it to us. You can bet that if they did, they’d quickly change their practices to that which causes the least harm as this would become the least-costly means of production. 

Rather than waiting for industry and government to change, we can re-energize our culture by growing food ourselves, in our neighborhoods, at our schools and places of worship, in our civic spaces. Food grown close to home is fresher, more flavorful, picked when ripe and full of nutrition. Kids who grow vegetables are likely to eat them, enjoy them, and ask for more. Food bought from nearby farmers helps strengthen our local economy. The character and nature of our back-country is preserved when populated by family farms.  

If you don’t know how to grow food but want to, there are people willing to teach you. San Diego Roots Sustainable Food Project has been offering food-growing programs in our area since 2008. Our Victory Gardens San Diego program give classes in people’s yards all over central San Diego, giving three-class, hands-on lessons in building a garden from scratch. Over the course of three weekends, a homeowner gets a garden and a dozen people learn how to do it themselves. 

For those who have bigger ambitions or agricultural pursuits, we have Wild Willow Farm & Education Center, where we operate the only land-based sustainable agriculture program in southern California. Our six-week Farming 101: Introduction to Sustainable Farming course gives students a solid base of understanding in what they need to grow food successfully in urban environments. Our agricultural philosophy is based on the development of healthy, living soil, and the use of the most environmentally appropriate means to grow food. The school operates year-round. Proceeds from produce grown by the farm is sold a local farmers markets and in a small CSA and supports operation of the school. School kids come to the farm on field trips and learn that not all carrots are the size of a little finger and shaped alike. Watching a kid pull a real carrot from the ground never gets old, and you know that that carrot will live in that kid’s memory, and become a cultural touchstone in her life. 

Please join me in regenerating our culture with delicious food. There is no reason that each of us, no matter our status, cannot be eating like royalty. We have the power, we only need to make the choice. 


Mel Lions is founder and director of San Diego Roots Sustainable Food Project, a 501(c)3 educational non-profit whose mission is to educate, cultivate and empower sustainable food systems in San Diego County.

San Diego County New and Young Farmers Needs Assessment Results

Wild Willow Farm

Wild Willow Farm

By Colin Cureton, CHIP Food Systems Director, Reducing Barriers to Farming Working Group

In Spring of 2015, the San Diego Food Systems Alliance’s (SDFSA’s) Reducing Barriers to Farming Workgroup conducted a needs assessment of new and young farmers in San Diego County. Data was gathered in person at several farmer mixer events at the Leichtag Ranch in Encinitas, CA and through an online survey. We received 80 usable responses from new and young farmers. For anyone who’s ever tried to survey busy farmers, you know that response rate is not bad!

As intended, respondents were young relative to the age of the average U.S. farmer (58 years old). 85% of respondents were under age 40 and 95% were under age 50. Most but not all are farming in San Diego County or Southern California. Almost 90% have less than 5 years of experience farming, with about a quarter (23%) in their first year. The most frequent growing practices cited was growing with organic practices though not being certified (71%), then certified organic (13%), then conventional (10%). Notably, and more on this later, over half (56%) of respondents were female.

What overarching trends emerged from the results? Of particular interest to SDFSA’s workgroup are the top barriers that these farmers face. The top cited barriers cited included access to affordable land (68%), access to credit and capital (48%), and business and marketing skills (32%). The top support strategies included farming mentors (65%), farm organizations and networks (51%), and beginning farmer training programs (46%). Also, a full 70% of respondents want support with business planning. Over half (52%) of respondents have no business plan.

As you might expect, barriers vary by the respondents’ years of experience. For example, new farmers (<1 and 1-5 years) are more likely to cite access to affordable land (76% and 50%, respectively) as a top barrier but this disappears in this sample with more experienced farmers (>10 years). Conversely, student loans don’t emerge as an issue until farmers reach >5 years of experience. Notably, access to credit and capital is an issue for farmers regardless of experience.

Returning to the gender breakdown, why is it an important result that over half (56%) of new/young farmers surveyed are women? Well, because nationally (according to the USDA's 2012 Census of Agriculture) only 13.5% of principal farm operators (PFO’s) are women. In California it's 18% and in San Diego County it's a little higher (19%). Furthermore, according to the USDA, between 2007 and 2012 the percentage of female PFO’s went down (6%). Even if many of the women farmers in our sample are not PFO’s, our sample suggests that there are many more women going into farming in San Diego County compared to State and national trends. This data matches local farmer training programs like Wild Willow and Seeds@City Farm, who tell us their incoming cohorts are increasingly female dominated. Either we have an extremely biased sample, or the future of farming may look very different gender-wise in San Diego County.

Moreover, there are some key differences among respondents when examined by gender. First and foremost is a difference in land and business ownership: 55% of male respondents own a farm business compared to only 38% of females, and 29% of male respondents own land compared to 18% of females. Mirroring this trend, 53% of women respondents work on someone else’s farm compared to 35% of male respondents. Furthermore, while the breakdown of barriers cited are roughly similar by gender, there are differences by gender in preferred support strategies. More specifically, females cited farm apprenticeships, farming organizations and networks, and farming mentors as effective support strategies at a higher rate compared to males.

SDFSA’s new and young farmer needs assessments results have provided all this and lots more useful information, and SDFSA members and partners are already using these results to take a data-driven approach to supporting the next generation of farmers. Stay tuned for SDFSA events and resources to reduce barriers to farming in San Diego County!


Survey was designed and implemented by SDFSA Reducing Barriers to Farming Workgroup including Leichtag Foundation, San Diego County Farm Bureau, Community Health Improvement Partners (CHIP), SDFSA staff, and SDFSA member and new farmer Laurel Greyson, and more. Survey design and analysis was led by Colin Cureton, CHIP Food Systems Director.

The Beginning of the End of Food Waste?

Written by Richard Winkler, Co-Chair of Food Recovery Working Group

'Food Waste is a national and a local issue. About a third of food grown goes uneaten. And food waste with other organics going into landfills is a major source of GHG emissions. But this week in San Diego could be the beginning of the end of food waste. We are amid an unprecedented increase of public awareness about the issue and there are multiple specific milestones to point to.

In March, ReFED published a comprehensive report called “a Roadmap to Reduce U.S. Food Waste" listing out specific food waste actions with a detailed cost / benefit analysis. The report posits a 5 to 1 Return on investment to reduce food waste.

The Natural Resources Defense Council has teamed up with the Ad Council – the public service advertising agency that brought you Smokey Bear and Friends Don’t Let Friends Drive Drunk – to launch a nationwide public service campaign to reduce food waste.  After over a year of research and development, the campaign will launch in April 2016.  A preview the soon to be released Nationwide Public Service Campaign to Reduce Food Waste will be held on Thursday April 28th at 1:00pm - 2:30pm ET Register Here 

In 2014 California Governor Jerry Brown signed AB 1826, introduced by Assembly Member Wesley Chesbro, which requires the state’s commercial sector, including restaurants, supermarkets, large venues and food processors, to separate their food scraps and yard trimmings and arrange for organics recycling service. Commencing Friday April 1st, businesses that generate 8 cubic yards (cy) or more a week must source separate food scraps and yard trimmings and arrange for recycling services for that organic waste in a specified manner.

On Monday Apr 4th to Thursday April 7th, state and national leaders in organics management field will come to San Diego for the annual BioCycle Conference focusing on “Advancing Food Recovery And Organics Recycling.” http://www.biocyclewestcoast.com/2016/keynotes.html

The conference will cover: 
Food Recovery for People
Clean Compost for Healthy Soils, Drought Resilience
Feeding People And Feeding Soil
Low Cost, Low Carbon Fuel And Power
Water Resource Recovery And Clean Energy
Strong, Local Green Economies

Wed. Apr 6 To coincide with these other events the San Diego Food System Alliance hosts the first in a series of Unwasted Food pop-up dinners where local chefs and partner restaurants will prepare dishes from ignored or un-coveted food that would otherwise go to waste.
Re:Source aims to…
•    Raise awareness of the staggering volume of food that is wasted
•    Inspire new applications for the overlooked byproducts of our food system
•    Redefine food waste as an important resource
•    Establish new revenue streams for local farmers

What Can Consumers Do?

Ending food waste is completely feasible. It is a 100% human created problem and like many other modern problems, has really only mushroomed since World War 2. Re:Source site has a set of practical recommendations on how we can individually make changes at home.

But policy is also important; the single biggest driver of food waste is consumer confusion over date labelling. “Date labels on food come in a dizzying variety of forms including “use by,” “best before,” “sell by,” and “enjoy by” dates, yet these simple markers are both poorly understood and surprisingly under-regulated. Confusing and misleading labels cause many consumers and stores to throw out perfectly healthy food, leading to 5.5 million tons of food dumped in landfills every year in California. Food is the single most prevalent item in our state’s waste stream and emits 8.3 million tons of greenhouse gases each year, contributing 20 percent of the state’s methane emissions.”   - Mar 23, 2016 Assemblymember David Chiu

So consumers can support AB 2725 which would simplify date labelling in CA.  The bill is now being debated in the CA Legislature. “AB2725 would make California the first state to have such legislation in the country, though Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-Maine, has been working on similar legislation nationally.

“This addresses the everyday experience that we all have, when we look at our refrigerator at dozens of products and have to decide if we should throw out products that may still be good but have different expiration labels,” said Chiu.”



SAN DIEGO, CA – San Diego Food System Alliance will launch the first Re:Source event, an Unwasted Food pop-up dinner series, on April 6th at the Red Door for two seatings at 5:30 P.M. and 7:45 P.M.  The first dinner coincides with BioCycle, an international industry conference on food waste held at Mission Valley.

This pop-up dinner series will partner with San Diego’s top chefs to use creativity to transform ignored or un-coveted food that would otherwise become ‘waste.’ “The Red Door is the perfect host for the launch of this series due to owner Trish Watlington’s commitment to sustainability, from her farm to table garden hosting Solana Center’s composting classes to food waste pickup arrangements with Closing the Loop,” says Elly Brown, Alliance Director of San Diego Food System Alliance. “In addition, Chef Miguel Valdez promises to amaze his fans by creating delightful meals out of un-coveted ingredients.”

According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, 40 percent of food is thrown away somewhere between farm to fork, equating to a $165 billion loss each year for the US in resources including energy, land and water. In San Diego County, almost 500,000 tons of food waste is landfilled annually, where it decomposes and creates methane.  According to the EPA, methane’s impact on climate change is 25 times greater than carbon dioxide over a 100-year period. The Environmental Defense Fund estimates that 25 percent of the manmade global warming we’re experience today is caused by methane emissions.

A recent report on the national roadmap for food waste, Rethinking Food Waste through Economics and Data, identified consumer education campaign as the largest driver for change per economic value. “With this dinner series, we aim to create more awareness around the issue of food waste and provide some practical tips for trying out waste prevention methods at home,” says Brown. “We believe that Chefs are a critical piece of this puzzle to educating consumers.”

Re:Source plans to organize monthly pop-up dinners leading up to San Diego Food System Alliance’s 2nd Unwasted Food Solution Summit on September 27th at the Jacobs Center.

Seating is limited and registration is available online. The dinner at the Red Door is $60 excluding beverages, tax, and gratuity. 20% of the proceeds will go to the San Diego Food System Alliance.
http://www.re-sourcesd.com/ for tickets and more information.


# # #

If you would like more information, please contact Elly Brown at 919-328-0046 or email at elly@sdfsa.org.

About Re:Source
Re:Source, an initiative of San Diego Food System Alliance, is a series of Unwasted Food pop-up dinners where San Diego’s top chefs will use creativity to transform ignored or un-coveted food that would otherwise become ‘waste.’ This pop-up series is inspired by successful initiatives in other cities. Re:Source aims to: 1) Raise awareness of the staggering volume of food that is wasted. 2) Inspire new applications for the overlooked byproducts of our food system. 3) Redefine food waste as an important resource


About the San Diego Food System Alliance:
The San Diego Food System Alliance is a coalition of organizations and individuals organized to affect positive change in the San Diego County's local food system. Our mission is to develop and maintain an equitable, healthy and sustainable food system for the benefit of all people in San Diego County. San Diego Food System Alliance has multiple Working Groups. The mission of the Food Recovery Working Group is to eliminate the half million ton of food waste that is sent to San Diego County’s landfills every year through promoting resources, catalyzing actions, and informing policies that address the recovery of food resources for consumption (source reduction and improving food security), livestock feed, energy and compost.

Member Highlights: Valentine's Day the Healthy Way at Olivewood Gardens

In February 2016, Olivewood Gardens and Learning Center will celebrate love and food through unique cooking classes for families and couples. At the Farm-to-Picnic-Blanket Couple’s Cooking Class on February 14th, Chef Christina Ng will teach couples how to make tasty Asian tapas and healthy homemade soda.  Couples will then enjoy private picnics in the beautiful spring garden. Interested couples can reserve a spot, with sessions starting at 10:00 AM, 11:00 AM, 12:30 PM, and 1:30 PM. The cost is $45 per person. 

On Saturday, February 6th, families are invited to Olivewood Gardens to participate in the Kid’s Valentine Date Day for a special lunch.  Together, they will harvest, cook, and enjoy a healthy, hearty, and delicious meal.  The class is from 10:00 AM – 1:00 PM and the cost is $25 per person.

To purchase tickets for the Farm-to-Picnic Blanket Couple’s Cooking Class, visit http://vdayfarmtopicnicblanket.brownpapertickets.com or call 619-434-4281. 

To purchase tickets for the Kid’s Valentine Date Day, visit olivewoodkidsdateday.bpt.me or call 619-434-4281.

Proceeds from the event will support garden-based nutrition education for underserved communities in San Diego.

The mission of Olivewood Gardens and Learning Center is to empower students and families from diverse backgrounds to be healthy and active citizens through organic gardening, environmental stewardship, and nutrition education.  Olivewood’s historic 6.85-acre property in National City, California serves as an interactive, indoor-outdoor classroom for children and adults from around San Diego County. Olivewood provides science-based environmental education lessons, hands-on gardening, and interactive cooking classes to students and families from underserved communities.

Visit us at OlivewoodGardens.org to or call us at (619) 434-4281 to find out more about our programs. Olivewood Gardens is located at 2525 N Avenue, National City, CA 91950.

Member Highlights: Linda Vista Community Garden: On-site Sales

The Linda Vista Community Garden was created in summer of 2011 as a community-driven effort to increase resident access to fresh, local produce. The garden started as a small project at local nonprofit Bayside Community Center with a passionate coordinator who was very engaged in the Linda Vista neighborhood. As it grew, the garden attracted additional community resources, including involvement from the Linda Vista Resident Leaders in Action (Leaders in Action) team. This team includes residents that have been trained in pursuing policy, systems, and environmental changes in their community to improve access to healthy food and physical activity. The Leaders in Action team also includes staff from Bayside Community Center and from the County of San Diego Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA) North Central Region.


In Linda Vista, the diverse and collaborative Leaders in Action team organized members to work on a Communities of Excellence in Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity Prevention (CX3) project to enhance the garden.  The team’s contribution to the garden’s growing momentum is a project of the County of San Diego Healthy Works program, implemented by Bayside Community Center. This work supports the County’s Live Well San Diego vision for a healthy, safe and thriving region.

Since the garden produces more than the residents and their families can consume, the Leaders in Action team sought to sell fresh, pesticide-free produce grown in the garden to Linda Vista residents for an affordable price. In Spring 2015, the team created a system to sell produce from the garden directly to community members. Since then, growers have been holding on-site sales every Tuesday afternoon.



Getting started with selling garden-grown produce to the public is not as easy as it sounds. It was difficult for community stakeholders to interpret the city’s policy regarding where and when residents are able to sell produce from a community garden. The team misinterpreted the policy and believed produce could only be sold within 50 feet of the garden, which is located behind the community center. The team asked a senior planner at the City of San Diego for help and clarification. Their willingness to reach out to city staff offered them avenues to become educated and make real progress. It also reflected their training and increased capacity to delve into policy and city permitting issues. The planner did some research and clarified that they were allowed to sell in the front of the building. The team was excited to move its produce stand to the front where it is more visible and benefits from the foot traffic.


Access to land to expand the garden has also been identified as a major issue. Currently, the Linda Vista Community Garden is at full capacity with a long waitlist. However, the local school district owns a vacant lot next to the garden, and the team is working with the district to explore expanding the garden onto school property.


Future Directions

The Linda Vista Resident Leaders in Action team plans to continue weekly on-site sales in the garden and at Bayside Community Center. They are determined to grow the program to offer more local produce to residents. Access to land is an identified obstacle to this goal, but Leaders in Action team members will continue advocating and working with the school district to provide opportunities for residents to grow and sell healthy food. 

By Roberto Ramirez

County of San Diego Health and Human Services Agency


This material was produced by the California Department of Public Health’s Nutrition Education and Obesity Prevention Branch with funding from USDA SNAP-Ed, known in California as CalFresh. These institutions are equal opportunity providers and employers. CalFresh provides assistance to low-income households and can help buy nutritious food for better health. For CalFresh information, call 2-1-1. For important nutrition information, visit www.CaChampionsForChange.net.

Member Highlights: UC San Diego’s Healthy Retail Program Helps Transform Oak Park Neighborhood Market

UC San Diego’s Healthy Retail Program recently collaborated with the Oak Park Community Town Council in Southeast San Diego to help transform Louie’s Market Place, a small neighborhood market, into a new grocery destination for healthy, fresh affordable foods. The Healthy Retail Program is dedicated to working with small markets and neighborhood residents to build a healthier and more equitable food landscape for all.

Healthy changes at the cash register and a brand new produce section.  

Healthy changes at the cash register and a brand new produce section.  

With support from UC San Diego’s Youth Advisory Council, fellow San Diego Food System Alliance members Dwight Detter of Food Centricity and Ariel Hamburger of San Diego County’s Health and Human Services Agency, collective efforts focused on implementing healthy market improvements to benefit neighborhood shoppers. Louie’s Market Place owner, Latif Georges, welcomed technical assistance, new partnerships, and help with the heavy lifting (literally and figuratively) involved in achieving a healthy market makeover. Changes to the market thus far include: improvements to the exterior façade, new produce section, new meat and deli section, new signage showcasing prepared sandwich and salad menu options featuring Oak Park neighborhood-themed names, signage and marketing materials with healthy food and lifestyle messages, and a newly painted public phone booth being transformed into Oak Park’s first “Little Neighborhood Library”. UCSD continues to support the growth of Louie’s Market Place as a healthy community food destination. Likewise, UCSD continues to assist the Oak Park Community Town Council in realizing their vision of revitalizing neighborhood businesses for a connected and thriving Oak Park.

Louie’s Market Place Owner Latif Georges greets UCSD’s Youth Advisory Council members. 

Louie’s Market Place Owner Latif Georges greets UCSD’s Youth Advisory Council members. 

You can read more about this healthy market makeover in a featured KPBS Story here. To find out more about the Healthy Retail Program, contact Elle Mari for services inside the City of San Diego or Chelsea Baron for services outside the city. 

UC San Diego's Healthy Retail program is funded by San Diego County's Health & Human Services Agency. 

Submitted By: Elle Mari, M.Sc., Senior Manager, Healthy Retail in the City of San Diego
Center for Community Health University of California, San Diego
E: emari@ucsd.edu
T: 619.681.0655
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Member Highlights: Good deeds and…drones? Another 1600 pounds of citrus picked for San Diego Food Bank

For Produce Good's first good deed of the year, 27 CropSwappers picked 1600 pounds of citrus for San Diego Food Bank on January 4, 2016 ! We also got a visit from Derek Chung, of Canary Drones to film some footage of the orchard for us.

Canarydrones.com specializes in aerial agricultural photography, focusing on early pest and plant disease detection.

Sci-fi just met low-fi and it was good!!

SDFSA Dec Community Event Recap: Local Fisheries Celebration Event




2015 Local Fisheries Celebration Event Recap

The San Diego Food System Alliance hosted the Local Fisheries Celebration Event on December 7th at the beautiful Manchester Grand Hyatt to celebrate the passage of AB226, Pacific to Plate, and our local fisheries. Close to 150 sustainable seafood-loving supporters attended this event to celebrate the presence of a local fishermen's market and the state policy win. 

About AB226A state legislation signed this October to streamline the permitting and operation of direct, local fishermen’s markets in California

This policy win for local fisheries statewide was an outcome of a collaborative effort led by County of San Diego Department of Environmental Health between the founders of Tuna Harbor Dockside Market, County Supervisor Cox and his staff, Port Commissioner Bob Nelson, the Unified Port of San Diego, California Sea Grant, NOAA, California Restaurant Association, The Maritime Alliance, California Coastal Conservancy, the local media, and Speaker Toni Atkins. AB 226 was introduced by Atkins in February 2015 and received unanimous support in the California Assembly and Senate. It was a win-win for both California’s thriving local food movement and small business owners. 

We partnered with many organizations to make this event possible and received support from many sponsors!
Thank you!!!

    Local Fishermen and Chefs: Kelly Fukushima, Peter Halmay, David Haworth, Zach Roach, Richard Yoder, Chef Graham Kent (Socal Fish), Chef Cindy Quinonez (Scripps Mercy), Chef Rob Ruiz (The Land & Water Company), Chef Sutti Sripolpa (Manchester Grand Hyatt)

    Sponsors: Manchester Grand Hyatt, Scripps Mercy, Catalina Offshore Products, R&R Wine Marketing, Old Harbor, Sunrise Produce, San Diego County Farm Bureau, Vesper Vineyards, Mike Hess Brewing

    Partners: Tuna Harbor Dockside Market, California Sea Grant, The Maritime Alliance, Slow Food Urban San Diego, UCSD School of Medicine

    Event Planning Committee: Elly Brown, Peter Halmay, Kate McDevitt, Nathan Phillips, Cynthia Quninez, Dr Theresa Talley

    For those who attended, please take five minutes to fill out this five question survey to inform our continuous improvement for community food system events.

    Photo credits: Dwight Detter, Kathryn Rogers, Kate McDevitt

    Media Coverage

    San Diego Reader "From Pacific to plate: Local fishermen help craft new law governing dockside markets"

    Be on the look out for a lengthier feature piece on San Diego Reader, possibly a cover story for the print edition!

    Event Recap

    The event kicked off with opening remarks by San Diego Food System Alliance Facilitator, Elly Brown, on why the Alliance decided to host this event followed by opening remarks by San Diego County District 1 Supervisor Greg Cox, Peter Halmay, and Amy Harbert, Assistant Director of County of San Diego Department of Environmental Health. Supervisor Cox, Mr. Halmay, and Ms. Harbert described the collaborative process it took to get the legislation passed and the benefit to San Diego County's food system.

    The discussion panel, "Sustainable Seafood: Strategies for us all" was moderated by Dr. Theresa Sinicrope Talley, Coastal Specialist, California Sea Grant Extension Program, Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego. The panel included experts across the food system from aquafarming, fishing, research, distributor and the blue economy. 

    Panelists included: 
    Don Kent, President, Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute
    Peter Halmay, Fisherman
    David Haworth, Fisherman
    Dave Rudie, CEO, Catalina Offshore Products
    Sarah Shoffler, Fishery Biologist, NOAA Fisheries Southwest Fisheries Science Center
    Greg Murphy, Executive Director, The Maritime Alliance

    Dr Talley set the stage and began the discussion through proposing the following question:
    "The underlying philosophy - each of us along the supply chain has the power to contribute to the persistence of a sustainable food system. Sustainability rules tend to be externally set. What's happening is scientists, governments and external groups are setting the boundaries of what it is to have a sustainable supply chain. How can we work together to come up with strategies that support this sustainable supply chain?"

    The presence of a local fishermen's market is truly a win-win for our local economy, the environment, and the health and well-being of San Diegans. 

    Read more around the benefits in the blog post by our friends, Slow Food Urban San Diego. 

    Some interesting ideas around Next Steps emerged during the discussions:

    • Promoting local seafood purchasing through a San Diego-wide "Seafood Saturdays" campaign
    • Inviting chefs to the market to teach people how to utilize the whole fish 
    • Providing transportation between Little Italy market and Tuna Harbor Dockside Market
    • Establishing stronger relationships with chefs and after market sales
    • Creating a new local supply chain for hamachi (yellowtail)

    During the networking hour, attendees discussed possibilities for promoting local fisheries (ex: Seafood Saturdays!) and linking the valuable local resources into existing food system initiatives such as "farm to school" and institutional procurement. Amazing seafood dishes were prepared by our participating local chefs: Chef Graham Kent (Socal Fish), Chef Cindy Quinonez (Scripps Mercy), Chef Rob Ruiz (The Land & Water Company), Executive Chef Sutti Sripolpa (Manchester Grand Hyatt) and local fishermen: Kelly Fukushima, Peter Halmay, David Haworth, Zach Roach, Richard Yoder.

    Chef Cindy Quinonez and Executive Chef Sutti Sripolpa went out to the Tuna Harbor Dockside Market first thing Saturday morning to select the local catch from the fishermen for this event (photo at the very bottom)!

    More photos of the event are available here

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    Urban Agriculture Incentive Zones (AB551) approved by City of SD Land Use Committee!

    san diego food system alliance urban agriculture working group members (from left): Eric Larson of San Diego County Farm bureau, Anchi Mei of IRC, lora logan of irc, dianne moss of project new village, amy zink of bayside community center, elly brown of san diego food system alliance, ariel hamburger of san diego county health and human services, liz silva of law offices of d elisabeth silva

    san diego food system alliance urban agriculture working group members (from left): Eric Larson of San Diego County Farm bureau, Anchi Mei of IRC, lora logan of irc, dianne moss of project new village, amy zink of bayside community center, elly brown of san diego food system alliance, ariel hamburger of san diego county health and human services, liz silva of law offices of d elisabeth silva

    On January 20th, the City of San Diego Smart Growth and Land Use committee voted unanimously to recommend the adoption of Urban Agriculture Incentive Zones Ordinance in the City of San Diego. The San Diego Food System Alliance Urban Agriculture Working Group has been strategizing advocacy to encourage the adoption of this policy countywide. The champion of this policy within City of San Diego Council is District 7 Council Member Scott Sherman. He brought the policy to the Board of Supervisors and to the City of San Diego Land Use committee. Councilman Sherman owns his own community garden plot in San Marcos.

    Our Working Group member, Kim Heinle from Bayside Community Center approached Councilman Sherman around in fall 2015. The San Diego Food System Alliance has been in support of this policy since 2014 when we were introduced to it through the California Food Policy Council. Our advocacy front gained up to speed when we formed an Urban Agriculture Working Group with groups interested in continuing to look at AB551 and other policy opportunities to create more environments for growing food in our cities. when  We organized a group presentation at the City of San Diego Land Use Committee

    Eric Larson, executive director of san diego county farm bureau, speaking at the city of san diego smart growth and land use committee meeting on behalf of the san diego food system alliance urban agriculture working group

    Eric Larson, executive director of san diego county farm bureau, speaking at the city of san diego smart growth and land use committee meeting on behalf of the san diego food system alliance urban agriculture working group

    AB551 is a state law that allows land owners in urban areas to receive tax incentives for putting land into agricultural use (fact sheet). We're organizing a workshop on Wed Feb 24th in partnership with Council Sherman's office for other cities in the county interested the policy (more details in events). Watch excellent news coverage of the policy by Fox News with Project New Village and Channel 10 with Global ARC.

    Member Highlights: Somali, Swahili and Other Ethnic Recipes Go Low-Cal Thanks to Community Health Partnership

    Several SDFSA voting member organizations, Leah’s Pantry, UCSD Center for Community Health and IRC San Diego, collaborated on a cookbook celebrating the cuisine of San Diego’s refugee communities. Recipes are nutritious, low-cost, easy to prepare, and delicious. 

    Read more in this article published by UCSD Senior Communications and Media Relations Manager Bonnie Ward. A community celebration is planned for February 25 at the Copley YMCA. Details to come!

    Member Highlights: CHIP Grows Farm-to-Institution in San Diego County in 2015

    From farmers workshops to farm-to-school (F2S) planning to a local food tradeshow for over 200 people, 2015 has been a busy year for Community Health Improvement Partners’s (CHIP’s) work to expand farm-to-institution in San Diego County (SDC). Below is a brief description of our work to grow the good food movement in 2015.

    CHIP continued convening the SDC Farm to School Taskforce (F2ST) the Nutrition in Healthcare Leadership Team in 2015, two groups leading the farm-to-institution charge in SDC. Through the F2ST and its strong partnership with UC San Diego, CHIP provided local foods procurement expertise to SDC school districts participating in the Harvest of the Month program. CHIP also worked with the Center for Ecoliteracy to expand its California Thursdays program in SDC from 5 to 12 school districts. Through the NHLT, SDC hospitals continue to work in partnership with Healthcare Without Harm to increase purchases of poultry and meat raised without the use of medically important antibiotics.  These shared procurement initiatives are bringing more healthy, local, sustainable foods to hundreds of thousands of SDC children, employees, patients, and community members.

    CHIP’s largest annual event, the Let’s Go Local! Produce Showcase was hosted on October 23rd in conjunction with Food Day and brought together institutional buyers and sellers of local food together to develop face-to-face business relationships. Over 200 attendees from schools, hospitals, community orgs, higher education, childcare, restaurants, and more met nearly 50 exhibitors including local farms, produce distributors, and educational exhibitors. The event was followed by a superb reception catered by our friends at Kitchens for Good.

    CHIP hosted two key trainings in 2015. One was a USDA Procurement Training where 15 SDC school districts learned how to prioritize local and regional foods in their competitive bids. CHIP also hosted a Farm-to-Institution 101 Training in September attended by over 25 local growers interested in selling to institutions. CHIP also worked closely with two school districts this year, Vista and Sweetwater, to guide them in developing 3-year F2S plans. Both districts hosted F2S visioning statements in July attended by a wide range of district stakeholders, crafted F2S vision statements, identified challenges and commitments, and are finalizing plans for how to move F2S forward in their districts.

    This year was one of intensive research for CHIP’s Food Systems Department. Using the data gathered for CHIP’s 2014 State of Farm to School in San Diego County report, CHIP released a 2-page Farm to School Profile for every school district in SDC. The largest 2015 research effort was to reach out to over 400 local farms to learn about their comprehensive projected offerings of 75 crops in 2016, which resulted in CHIP’s 2015 Crop Availability Chart. These research efforts improve the quality and quantity of market information available to institutional buyers, local farms, distributors, and good food advocates. CHIP also worked hard to collaborate on other valuable food systems research, such as the San Diego Food Systems Alliance 2015 survey to assess barriers to new and young farmers.

    Stay up to date on our activities on CHIP’s Food Systems Blog, as the coming year is ripe with as many (if not more!) activities that continue to grow the good food movement.