Announcing the launch of Save The Food San Diego!

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 between NRDC and the Ad Council. What’s so exciting about "Save the Food San Diego" is the opportunity for us to have a collective impact for good via our collaborative and multi-faceted strategy.

The umbrella for the Alliance’s food waste reduction and recovery initiative is the national Save The Food consumer education campaign. In addressing food waste, consumer education campaigns offer the highest net economic value, or total cost plus benefit (ReFed 2016, 21). And although 40% of food in the United Sates is wasted, and 80% of all food waste is generated in consumer-facing businesses and homes, most people think they themselves don’t waste food.

A lot of wasted food comes out of good intentions. We may shop one week for more fresh, healthful foods, but then when the end of a busy week rolls around we realize that we did not use some of that food and it is starting to wilt or brown. Buffets and grocery displays may also over prepare and stock food to ensure there is plenty at all times. But there are solutions, and Save The Food San Diego is about to start spreading the word.

This year the San Diego Food System Alliance is fortunate to have received anonymous donor funding via the San Diego Foundation to specifically address the top two tiers of the EPA’s food waste hierarchy: food waste reduction, and food donation to people. Our strategy at the Alliance includes leveraging the national Save The Food campaign as a vehicle to engage local and state government to work together with us and their stakeholders. The Alliance is developing partnerships with all 19 jurisdictions in the county. Through these partnerships, we will engage both food waste generators and food donation networks.

The State of California has long been a leader in environmental policy, and has still managed to grow its economy faster than any other state in the nation. Some of that environmental policy now addresses food waste. With recent legislation, such as AB 1826 requiring commercial organics recycling and SB 1383 requiring city governments and residents to develop systems and processes to reduce, donate and recycle food waste, we have some challenges ahead---but none that we cannot tackle together.

Beyond regulatory compliance, a 2017 report from Champions 12.3, The Business Case for Reducing Food Loss and Waste, demonstrates that the average business will earn a $14 return for every $1 invested in food loss and waste reduction. The Alliance will engage food waste generators by sector: restaurants and food service; universities and hospitals; K-12 schools; grocery and warehouse; stadiums and venues. Working collaboratively, we will catalyze network building, identify best management practices, develop case studies, metrics and reporting, and a series of peer-to-peer webinar presentations.

In San Diego County half a million people are food insecure, and yet we dispose of approximately half a million tons of food waste every year. Working with our Food Recovery Working Group and the County of San Diego as they develop their Food Donation Action Plan, we will engage with food donation networks, including gleaners, food banks, meal service providers, food pantries, technology, storage, and transport stakeholders. We will catalyze and support capacity building within the networks to facilitate the growth and expansion needed to deliver the increased donations of food to people in need.  

Be on the lookout for some teaser Save The Food billboards this spring. If you see one, please take a photo and send to barbara@sdfsa.org. Later in the year you can expect to see many more billboards, as well as collaborative outreach from local government, business and education community, and donation networks. When we all work together we can accomplish great things.

Margaret Mead said it best in that we should “never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has”.

For more information please visit Save The Food San Diego