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

“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:

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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:

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.


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


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!

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


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:

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

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: Diane Moss, Managing Director, Project New Village

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:

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.


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. 


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 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

PRESS RELEASE: Urban Agriculture Incentive Zone Officially Approved Today by City of San Diego


Elly Brown
(919) 328-0046

Urban Agriculture Incentive Zone Officially Approved Today by City of San Diego
SAN DIEGO, February 13, 2018 – City of San Diego City Council officially approved the establishment of an Urban Agriculture Incentive Zone within the City of San Diego today. Urban Agriculture Incentive Zone is a California bill passed in 2013 which aims to increase land access for urban agriculture through the use of vacant, privately-owned land. Landowners with vacant parcels under 3 acres will be eligible to receive a property tax incentive if leasing with a farmer or a community garden organization for a minimum of 5 years. City of San Diego follows several cities which adopted the Urban Agriculture Incentive Zone bill in California including Sacramento, San Franciso, and Los Angeles. There are over 2000 parcels in City of San Diego which qualify under this bill. 

“This tax incentive is one of our priority policy initiatives we have been promoting here with Cities in San Diego County," says Elly Brown, Director of San Diego Food System Alliance. "It is a win-win-win – access to healthy food, education and economic development opportunities, beautifying an underutilized vacant lot, and community building.” 

Advocacy for Urban Agriculture Incentive Zone for City of San Diego was a team effort and emerged from the community. The policy was initially brought forward by Kim Heinle and Amy Zink of Bayside Community Center along with community members who wanted to expand their successful Linda Vista community garden. Councilmember Scott Sherman championed the policy within the City of San Diego and Urban Agriculture Incentive Zone was initially approved by City Council back in February 2016. However, due to the process of creating a tax framework with the County of San Diego, the policy implementation was delayed. The ordinance was revised and brought forward again to City Council last month for first reading. 

Diane Moss, Managing Director of Project New Village spoke at City Council last month. “We’ve seen wonderful things happen, we not only grow food, we grow community. People said it couldn’t be done. We are now growing Japanese cucumbers down on Market Street,” said Moss. “We think this is a good idea to encourage urban ag in communities that are food insecure. We think it would be a real boost in neighborhood supply chain.”

The San Diego Food System Alliance co-sponsored AB465 (TING), the 10 year extension of Urban Agriculture Incentive Zones last year, in partnership with SPUR, PANNA, and Sacramento Urban Ag Alliance. "We did this in anticipation that our local jurisdictions will support urban agriculture in our communities. We are excited to see more food being grown across San Diego," says Brown. 
In the near future, City of San Diego City Council will be examining Urban Agriculture Incentive Zone in detail to consider bringing forward an amendment to exclude usage for marijuana production purposes. San Diego Food System Alliance and members will be working with the City of San Diego on the successful implementation of this program. 

San Diego Food System Alliance is a regional collaborative with a mission to develop and maintain an equitable, healthy and sustainable food system in San Diego County. For more information, visit


We're Hiring! Development & Communications Manager

We are thrilled to announce that the San Diego Food System Alliance is hiring a full-time Development & Communications Manager!

Development & Communications Manager is a new role on the San Diego Food System Alliance team and will be responsible for planning, organizing, and overseeing all fundraising and external communications activities. This role is both strategic and tactical, requiring the ability to think big while minding all the details. The Development & Communications Manager must be a great relationship-builder and a savvy project manager who is comfortable setting up systems and juggling multiple projects, creatively connecting the dots between fundraising, communications, and programming. The ideal candidate is a self-starter, quick learner, enthusiastic about food justice causes, and an accountable team collaborator. The Development & Communications Manager is a creative professional who is expected to both take direction, and initiate and steward work product. The Development & Communications Manager works closely with the Alliance Director and Alliance’s Executive Committee in development and communication endeavors, and will collaborate with Alliance staff to effectively communicate the work. The Development & Communications Manager will be expected to work closely with the Alliance Director at the Hillcrest office as well as remotely (if desired) and may be responsible for managing an intern to support development and communication efforts.

More details on the role and how to apply here. Applications are due Feb 28th 2018.  


We're Hiring! Project Coordinator, Food Waste Reduction & Recovery

We are thrilled to announce that the San Diego Food System Alliance is hiring a full-time Project Coordinator, Food Waste Reduction & Recovery!

Project Coordinator, Food Waste Reduction & Recovery, is responsible for coordination of special projects specifically focused on food waste reduction and food recovery for people (top two tiers of the EPA Food Recovery Hierarchy). The Project Coordinator will be responsible for stakeholder engagement and relationship management, adherence to work plans and timelines, conducting research, data collection, analysis, and report generation. The Project Coordinator will also provide support for the inclusion and expansion of stakeholder engagement and utilization of Save The Food San Diego initiative resources and coordinating stakeholder convenings and events.

 More details on the role and how to apply here. Applications are due Feb 28th 2018.  


PRESS RELEASE: San Diego Food System Alliance Receives Half a Million Dollar CalRecycle Grant to Reduce Food Waste in San Diego


Barbara Hamilton
(760) 717-6627
San Diego Food System Alliance Receives Half a Million Dollar CalRecycle Grant to Reduce Food Waste in San Diego

SAN DIEGO, January 23, 2018 – San Diego Food System Alliance was awarded a $500k grant from California's Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) today for the FY16-17 Cycle 1 Food Waste Prevention and Rescue Grant Program. This grant will support the Smart Kitchens San Diego project, in partnership with Jacobs & Cushman San Diego Food Bank and LeanPath, Inc. to provide tools and technical assistance for selected large food production facilities to effectively reduce food waste and donate edible food.
According to the latest research by the San Diego Hunger Coalition, 1 in 6 people (16%) and more than 1 in 5 children (22%) in San Diego County, are food insecure. This means that they “don’t always have enough food for an active, healthy life” (Hunger Coalition 2017).  And yet, we waste so much food. In San Diego County, it is estimated that we dispose of 600,000 tons of food to landfill each year.
“Smart Kitchens San Diego is the right thing at the right time,” said Barbara Hamilton, Director of Strategic Initiatives of San Diego Food System Alliance. “This is a Win-Win-Win-- for business, hungry people, and for the environment. Businesses save money with food waste source reduction, hungry people benefit from wholesome food donation, and cities across the county benefit from reduced pollution and food waste to landfill.”

Smart Kitchen San Diego is partially inspired by StopWaste’s successful Smart Kitchen Initiative pilot program in Alameda County. The project will offer subsidies for the use of LeanPath’s food waste tracking system in hospitality, healthcare, college & university, corporate dining sectors, concentrated in three distinct high-need zones across the county. Use of LeanPath systems has demonstrated a 25%-50% reduction in pre-consumer food waste in these sectors. Majority of the grant funding will be going toward LeanPath’s food waste tracking systems for food donors as well as transportation, refrigeration, and packaging for agencies receiving food donation. 
An important aspect of this project is increasing the capacity of food donation efforts in San Diego County. “Although there is plenty of good food in San Diego county that could be donated to hungry people, non-profit food recovery agencies often lack sufficient transportation and manpower to collect the food,” says Hamilton. In addition to making connections between food donors and food recovery agencies, Smart Kitchens San Diego will provide transportation vehicles, refrigeration, and support to facilitate food donation.

San Diego Food System Alliance is a regional collaborative with a mission to develop and maintain an equitable, healthy and sustainable food system in San Diego County. For more information, visit


Racism and Capitalism: Systems of Exploitation in a “Broken” Food System

Report on discussions at Project New Village's recent event, “Seeking and Securing Food Justice: Uprooting Racism and Rebuilding Community” 

Dr. Maulana Karenga, a professor in the Department of Africana Studies at California State University, Long Beach  (Image borrowed from the LA County African American Employees Association)

Dr. Maulana Karenga, a professor in the Department of Africana Studies at California State University, Long Beach  (Image borrowed from the LA County African American Employees Association)

We hear about it all the time-- “the U.S. food system is broken.” Government-subsidized industrially grown and processed foods are wreaking havoc on our health as a nation. Low-income people of color are disproportionately affected by diet-related illnesses and food insecurity. These disconcerting facts beg the question: why are racial inequities and power disparities endemic to our food system? And what can we do to change this?

As part of its Food Justice Legacy Lecture Series, Project New Village recently hosted a talk titled “Seeking and Securing Food Justice: Uprooting Racism and Rebuilding Community.” Dr. Maulana Karenga, Professor and Chair, Department of Africana Studies at Cal State Long Beach, delivered the keynote address. An activist scholar and key contributor in the Black Power Movement, Dr. Karenga is the creator of the Nguzo Saba and Kwanzaa. “Kwanzaa is as old as agriculture,” he says. “It is intimately concerned with the production, harvesting, and especially the sharing of food. It is about giving thanks for the harvest and recommitting to protecting and caring for the Earth.”

A Kwanzaa table arrangement includes fruits and vegetables, ears of corn, a mat, the unity cup, gifts, candles, and a kinara (Image borrowed from the Official Kwanzaa Website)

A Kwanzaa table arrangement includes fruits and vegetables, ears of corn, a mat, the unity cup, gifts, candles, and a kinara (Image borrowed from the Official Kwanzaa Website)

The Seven Principles of Kwanzaa

Kwanzaa has seven core principles, the first of which is Umoja, the Swahili word for unity. The other six principles include Kujichagulia (Self-Determination), Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility), Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics), Nia (Purpose), Kuumba (Creativity), and Imani (Faith).  The kinara, or candleholder, contains 7 candles to represent the Seven Principals.

Forms of Systemic Subjugation

These fundamental principles are in direct opposition to what Dr. Karenga recognizes as two overarching systems of domination in our society-- capitalism and racism. Capitalism is based on private ownership of the means of production and the pursuit of profit. Racism is the institutionalization of prejudice and hostility directed towards an ethnic group; according to Dr. Karenga, it is a form of “socially and legally sanctioned hatred.” Race was first conceived at the dawn of the colonial era, used as a social biological category to assign human worth and social status, with whiteness serving as a model.

Historically, racism has been used by people of European descent to justify their mistreatment of non-white skinned peoples. When Europeans arrived to the Americas, they decimated the Native Americans whom they considered to be primitives. Likewise, when the North Atlantic slave trade began in the 16th century, pseudo-scientific claims emerged that classified Africans as subhuman. In both circumstances, land and labor were central to the socially constructed concept of “race.” 

Racism and capitalism are both systems that rely on oppression, exploitation, and degradation to function. Exploited migrant workers are a primary example of this intersection. It is the nature of capitalism to prey on vulnerable labor in order to reduce costs. This issue is exacerbated by policies and practices that undervalue the lives of immigrants and people of color. 

Public Policy and Food Justice 

As food justice advocates, we need to be aware of the interlinkages between racism and capitalism and scrutinize policies that prioritize profits over people. Often those most negatively affected by U.S. food policy are dark skinned people abroad. For example, U.S. corn exports to the south of Mexico have created strife among peoples that have cultivated native varieties of maíz for thousands of years. Haiti, a long-standing food insecure nation, is one of the largest markets for United States-grown rice. Neoliberal policies have systematically reshaped cultural and economic landscapes, sacrificing traditional livelihoods for the economic gain of those in power.  

project new village's Good Food District inspires collective agency and promotes food security at a neighborhood level. Urban agriculture in the Southeast San Diego community of Mt. Hope is helping increase access to healthy food.

project new village's Good Food District inspires collective agency and promotes food security at a neighborhood level. Urban agriculture in the Southeast San Diego community of Mt. Hope is helping increase access to healthy food.

It is critical that we unveil the roles that capitalism and racism have played and continue to play in our food system, so that we can pursue solutions that depart from these paradigms. In his book A Foodie’s Guide to Capitalism, author Eric Holt-Giménez puts it this way: “Calls to ‘fix a broken food system’ assume that the capitalist food system used to work well. This assumption ignores the food system’s long, racialized history of mistreatment of people of color. The food system is unjust and unsustainable, but it is not broken. It functions precisely as the capitalist food system has always worked, concentrating power in the hands of the privileged minority and passing off the social and environmental ‘externalities’ disproportionately to racially stigmatized groups” (160).
Poverty is intimately correlated with food insecurity. African Americans and latinos living in the United States are more than twice as likely as caucasians to be food insecure. Furthermore, of farmworkers and food workers in the U.S., an overwhelming majority are people of color receiving poverty wages. In order to remediate these glaring inequities, we must first address their root cause: embedded racism and a capitalist food system.

Dr. Karenga gives us some suggestions for how to confront this system. “There is no substitute for an aware, organized, and engaged people constantly involved in a multiplicity of activities to define, defend, and advance their interests,” he says. Social justice activists must identify a  framework for their resistance. Effective resistance movements share the following attributes: a clear ideology, a structure (flexible, democratic, and respectful), communication among participants, and access to resources. 

Ultimately, Dr. Karenga calls us to embody the first principal of Kwanzaa-- Umoja, or unity. There is power in numbers, and there is wisdom in perspectives. People of color, regardless of ethnic or national background, must stand united as agents for change. And together, people of color and caucasians must collaborate to combat systemic inequities and to establish non-exploitative and life-affirming foodways.

By Livvy Stanforth, Intern

Regenerative Earth Summit: Food + Climate + Culture


As an intern with the San Diego Food System Alliance, I recently had the opportunity to attend the Regenerative Earth Summit in Boulder, Colorado. The event was a convening of farmers, academics, business leaders, and food system advocates, all of whom share a common goal: to improve soil health and mitigate climate change through the widespread adoption of regenerative farming practices. 

The conference began on Monday morning with a powerful presentation by Hazel Henderson, a consultant on equitable ecologically sustainable human development and socially responsible business and investment. The premise of her talk was that stress is evolution’s tool, and systemic breakdowns drive breakthroughs. Thus, the degradation of the world’s soils provides us with a massive opportunity to shift towards a regenerative paradigm, an economic system that considers the health of natural resources (water, soil, ecosystems) and human beings.

Building the Path to Regenerative Farming

The fundamental question, which we grappled with throughout the conference, is: how do we build a marketplace that supports regenerative farming? Subsidized monoculture farms and the overuse of pesticides and synthetic fertilizers have resulted in an unprecedented low cost of food. Yet the consequences of producing food in this manner threaten our existence as a species. Current rates of soil degradation suggest that we have only 60 harvests left; in other words, conventional agriculture is stripping away the topsoil, and we have approximately six decades to reverse this trend.

A panel of business leaders in the organics industry discussed the best way to scale regenerative agriculture. They agreed that education and transparency are critical on all levels of the supply chain, and that we need better systems to aggregate data to demonstrate the viability of regenerative practices.

But what exactly is regenerative agriculture?

Regenerative agriculture requires a shift of thinking—from “doing less harm” to actively improving systems.

Image: Terra Genesis International

Image: Terra Genesis International

Currently a Regenerative Organic Certification is being developed which evaluates the three pillars: soil health, animal welfare, and social fairness. To obtain the Regenerative Organic Certification Label, a product must meet up to 20 criteria, some of which include no/low tillage, use of cover crops and crop rotations, pasture-raised animals, and living wages for farm workers.

A reoccurring theme throughout the conference was the controversial nature of the label. Some claimed that a “beyond organic” label is necessary to prevent greenwashing and facilitate authentic socially and ecologically-conscious purchasing practices. Others held the viewpoint that another label would be confusing to consumers and subject to being watered down over time. They cited the Organic label as an example; organic farming was once a cutting-edge philosophy, but now “industrially grown” organics make up a huge share of the market.

These differences aside, everyone involved in the regenerative agriculture movement can agree on its enormous potential for combatting climate change and increasing global food security.

Crowd-sourcing ideas for a better food future.

Crowd-sourcing ideas for a better food future.

Regenerative Business

Gregory Landua of Terra Genesis International, an international regenerative design consultancy, helped us navigate the topic of regenerative supply webs. Making a large scale global shift for regenerative agriculture will require us to transition from monoculture farms and supply chains to what Gregory calls “biodiverse supply webs.” Businesses can add value to their products and generate eco-social benefits by purchasing ingredients from farmers that are enhancing local landscapes through carbon sequestration, soil building, and crop diversification.

Policy for Supporting Carbon Farming

Although it is essential for the business community to commit to ethical and ecological sourcing, the public is equally responsible for reaching out to their elected representatives.  Soil has large traction on each end of the political spectrum. While organic farming traditionally appeals to the left, republicans view agriculture as a potential vehicle for rural development.

Soil health is not yet a politicized issue. In order to engage a broad political audience, those of us involved in the regenerative movement must be conscious of how we frame it; though it is indeed about climate, water quality, and public health, it is also a rural farmer’s issue, endemic to who we are as Americans.

In terms of practical solutions, at the state level, we can work to ratify soil health as part of economic policy. Overturning Citizens’ United and reforming campaign finance policy will also be an essential step. As a grassroots movement, we must actively participate in the political process to demand structural change from politicians at local, state, and federal levels.

book display.jpg

Final Thoughts

The Regenerative Earth Summit was at once overwhelming and inspiring. Though the problems we face are massive, I believe the regenerative agriculture movement is unequivocally capable of tackling them head on. The passion, energy, willingness, and creativity present in the conference room was unparalleled, and it filled me with tremendous hope and gratitude. The soil under our feet is literally the common ground we all share. It has the profound capacity to transcend political polarization and guide us toward a better world. In our collective effort to revitalize the soil, we can simultaneously build a food system that prioritizes farmers and rural communities, nutrient-dense food, and a livable climate for all. 

By Livvy Stanforth, Intern

Chilling for Good---Cold Storage Mini-Grant Awards!

Chilling for Good --- Cold Storage Mini-Grant Awards!

San Diego Food System Alliance is pleased announce that five local food recovery agencies have been selected as Cold Storage Mini-Grant Awardees: Vista Community Clinic, Community Resource Center, Heaven’s Windows, Wesley Community Services Center, and Catholic Charities (College area).

This project is being implemented through a partnership with San Diego Food Bank, Feeding San Diego, and Superfood Drive, with generous funding by an anonymous donor of the San Diego Foundation.

Mini Grant support logos.png

Each of these five agency awardees will receive a two-door glass-front refrigeration unit (50 cubic foot capacity, 32”x50” footprint, such as the Everest Refrigeration Model No. EMGR48 or EBGR2) in order to increase recovery of fresh foods and produce, avoid landfilling of wholesome, edible foods, and increase food distribution programs for those in need.

Each agency will submit a short narrative with photographs within 6 months of receipt, demonstrating how this capacity building support helped with their food rescue and program efforts. We look forward to sharing these success stories and lessons learned.

Awardee Highlights:

Vista Community Clinic (VCC) currently serves a diverse population of low income families in North County San Diego, currently serving 180 people per month in three programs: The Dad’s Club, Youth Development, and the First 5 Steps program. With the addition of this refrigeration unit VCC will be able to become a fresh rescue partner, feed more families, and reduce food waste. This is in alignment with their efforts to promote healthy living and eating across all of their programming.  

Community Resource Center (CRC) is a current fresh rescue partner with the San Diego Food Bank and Feeding San Diego, serving 1400 people per month, including homeless and families. CRC sees a current unmet need for food in the north coastal community it serves and will be able to increase fresh food recovery from additional grocery stores with the new refrigeration unit, allowing them to serve the needs of additional people in their community.

Heaven’s Windows is a current fresh rescue partner with the San Diego Food Bank, and has recently moved into a new space in east San Diego County---into what is referred to as a food desert for fresh fruit and vegetables. They see increased demand in their new space and look to provide more fresh and wholesome foods to the community beyond the current 60-80 families per day, 300 families per month, and 60 prepared meals to seniors with the addition of this new refrigeration unit.

Wesley Community Services Center has a growing food rescue program with a stated aim to “aid the low and moderate-income people” within their community. They operate a Tuesday/Wednesday food pantry, serving 150 – 200 community members, and hot meals for seniors and families on Monday, Wednesday, Friday. They are a current fresh rescue partner, but will be able to expand recovery and distribution of fresh food with the addition of this cold storage refrigeration unit.

Catholic Charities (College area) is a designated emergency food provider by the San Diego Food Bank and 211, is open 5 days per week, and provides food to over 800 households monthly. With the addition of this commercial refrigeration unit, Catholic Charities will be better equipped to handle the 1000+ pounds of food donated to the center each week, and will be able to recover and serve more fresh and wholesome food as a fresh rescue partner with the San Diego Food Bank.

Post by Barbara Hamilton, Director of Strategic Initiatives


Fall Grower Highlight: Solutions Farms of Solutions for Change

There is very little that is typical or standard about Solutions Farms. While every farm is different in its resources, methods, and products, Solutions Farms exists in a classification of its own by virtue of what it seeks to accomplish.


Solutions for Change is a nonprofit organization based in North San Diego County and created in 1999 with a single goal: solve family homelessness - one family one community at a time. Founded by Chris and Tammy Megison - creators of the successful North County Times Hawker program (the guys you see selling newspapers at traffic intersections) - Solutions for Change seeks a permanent end to homelessness for families through an intensive 1,000-day college like program.

The organization’s website,, summarizes the Megison’s strategy to solve family homelessness. “The vision was different in that it did not include more shelter beds, feeding programs or traditional human services, but rather an audacious plan to create access to permanent solutions using a hybrid model that the couple developed. All the parents being helped would work, pay rent, attend onsite workshops and classes and be engaged in a dynamic coaching system. The model, now known as the Solutions University, blends affordable housing, educational opportunities, employment training and health related solutions all within one cohesive strategic partnership. There is but one goal: work with this community to solve family homelessness for kids and communities, permanently.” Solutions for Change reports solving homelessness for over 800 families and 2,000 children over the last 17 years.

Solutions for Change acquired two acres in Vista, the site of a former nursery, and in 2012 renovated the property and greenhouses. They built a 7,000 square foot greenhouse aquaponics farm that produces both tilapia fish and leafy greens and herbs in a closed loop system. Fish culture is used to provide nutrients to the plants which filter the water and culture solution and send clean water back to the fish. Tilapia fish are typically grown in aquaponics systems because they are hardy, fast growing, there is an established market for them, and they can tolerate water conditions that many other fish types cannot. The farm is certified organic and grows its plants in coconut coir fiber and worm castings.

Produce from the farm is sold to local schools, restaurants, and markets, and all revenue is reinvested into programs operated by Solutions for Change.


In 2015 Solutions for Change was awarded a grant from Alliance Healthcare Foundation which helped fund an expansion which tripled the farm’s production footprint from 7,000 to 25,000 square feet, and made Solutions Farms the largest operating aquaponics farm in California. The farm can produce up to 3,500 pounds of lettuce a week, and up to nine tons of fish a year.

Solutions Farms is a key component of Solutions University providing employment training to previously homeless parents in the program. “The farm acts as part of the employment related training portion of that 1,000 days. The residents can come and work and screw up and mess up and learn the job skills they need to be successful going forward in their future,” says Kevin Gorham, the farm’s production manager.

About the farm, Solutions founder Tammy Megison writes, “Solutions Farms’ most important output will be neither its produce nor its fish. This is, first and foremost, a social enterprise venture that combines job training, general education, and entrepreneurship for the benefit of Solutions’ families and the community. Solutions Farms will be an in-house platform that provides Solutions families an opportunity to acquire marketable, higher-wage skills running the gamut from technology to accounting, and marketing to sales.”


Solutions Farms celebrated the full completion of their greenhouse expansion project with a grand opening in March 2017, and is now offering tours of the farm early in the year. For more information about the farm and Solutions for Change visit