Summit To Tackle Impact Of Food Waste In San Diego County
This is KPBS midday addition and I am Maureen Cavanaugh. America waste a lot of food. Bring to the natural resources Defense Council about 40% of food is thrown away somewhere between growing and eating. At the same time there are about half 1 million people in San Diego each year old often don't know where their next meal will come from. It seems obvious people we waste should be directed toward those people at risk of going hungry but that is a lot easier said than done. The first waste solution South Summit in San Diego is being held tomorrow, the assistance groups, government and business will meet to discuss how to stop the waste and feed the people. 20 are Ellie Brown with the San Diego system alliance, that is the group that is sponsoring the summit. Welcome. Kelly Krasner is with feeding America San Diego. Welcome Kelly. Ellie, how do so much both get wasted? Roadways is a national program -- problem. We believe it taste -- local solution. We waste around 40% of the food that does not make it to people's plates. There is market challenges to this problem. However, also requires coordinated solutions locally to address the problem. That we are trying to encourage is a cycle that goes from farm to fork, from work back into the bonds. Creating more efficiencies to make sure everybody can eat that food. As you mentioned have 1 million people in San Diego County are food insecure. We want to make sure all pulled into up on people's plates. Also, that food scraps can go back into the bonds in our local farms to animal feed and composting to build soil fertility. Some of the reasons why the food waste is happening is really that we don't have a coordinated way to get that both waste to the people and into the bonds in our local communities. Some of the market economics of aesthetic that consumers have but for the type of both they want to see in retail, expiration dates and sell by dates that are arbitrary and set by manufacturers which encourages more food waste. To buy more who. There is a market dynamic that needs to be controlled. What you are saying is that waste is something that is built into the way food is sold or even grown in the country. In a way yes. It happens by market dynamics as well. People system alliance is trying to create a full system in San Diego that considers the environment that people in our local economy. We are trying to take those three considerations in play. We want to create a system that considers farm to fork back into the barn. Stopping food waste is now actually a goal of the federal government That is why. There is a new goal of the federal level to reduce the waste by 50% or 2030. There is a lot of attention being paid on the state level as well. A mandate that will create regulations for businesses to recycle organic starting next April. Businesses are going to be looking for solutions to address the waste. The are going to the pool banks to see if they can donate their food waste so they don't have to pay for recycling that the waste. Helicopter of an idea of the groups that are taking part of the summit. In San Diego. The alliance is a coalition that is looking at the entire boot system for a collaborative of and have -- advocates. The waste is one of the issues we are looking at and we are convening recycling groups, though security groups but also organizations, businesses across people system to figure out how they can adjust their waste now. Let me go to Kelly. Feeding America San Diego is one group in our County looking to get food to people who don't have it. Tell us about the range of people that use the looking for food assistance. It ranges from all different types across the county. Nearly half 1 million people struggle with hunger. They don't know where their next meal is coming from. Many of our clients are forced to choose between paying for rent or buying medication or different things like that. Are buying them. A large portion of our families are actually working individuals. About 64% of family members had at least one person in the family who has worked with in the past year. There are people all around who are struggling with making those hard choices. Apparently many people who go to feeding America not qualify for government assistance programs. Like I mentioned because we live in such a expensive place, we don't actually research and enough food. No matter who you are if you need food we are there to offer it. How many kids are affected by food insecurity? Is quite a bit problem, one in five children are born insecure. So we focus a lot of our programs on getting into schools and helping with these children because we know that children are our future. Without the proper nutrition they are not able to succeed in school. We happy squeal pantry which sets out market style where we do it in the morning when we -- parents are dropping. Are already there they don't have to make an extra trip somewhere. It can go in get food to sustain them through the weekend or those nights where they don't have access to free or reduced meals. Kelly, where does the you distribute come from? We have to get our food from a lot of different sources. About 50% of what we distribute is fresh produce. That comes from not only local farmers but part of the California Association food bank. So we were with the Association works with farmers throughout the state to get that food they can take to market. Is built like carrots, with twigs -- apples that are too small, they don't qualify for these retail standards. Still perfectly edible and perfectly fine. People call it ugly produce. We get a large amount of our produce through that. We also work with a lot of local grocery stores -- about half of the comes from our retail partners. That was about 18.5 million total last year. Pounds of food. We work with them to get the type of product that might otherwise be thrown away. So it is things like milk that is a couple of days before expiration, or an apple with a blemish on it. Or bananas are a big one. They get a little bit of a bruise on the but still perfectly fine. Is not suitable for retail shelves. Obviously from what Kelly has been saying there are programs in place to stop being wasted. How do you think they need to be expanded in San Diego question mark Waste is a big issue -- we have 500,000 tons of the waste going into landfill which is causing methane gas. Is a significant issue that the state is looking to address. They want to invest in solutions to address this. We want to encourage solutions that really bring that built to the people in need in San Diego. First before creating the facilities like composting facilities or digest and that process the food into energy. Is stored a lot of attention for those ties of innovation Park where we want to do is invest in solutions locally that connect the local businesses to the local food pantries so that we can move the food to the places that are in need. To the food pantries and also to the farms so that animals can be fed with food scraps so that compost can go -- fonts can receive the compost they need. However there is a lot of terminate -- regulations that are barriers for compost facilities that we are trying to work on those -- removing those periods as well. One of the things Kelly said reminds me of the way the grocery stores usually go through their products. Will often clear the shelves of items that are approaching their sell by date. Don't they have to throw those things out? No -- well, for retail standards think that are at expiration, they have to take those off the shelves. It does not mean they are not good. That is the important piece. Sell by dates, Best Buy dates are all manufactured based. Not regulated by anyone or the USDA. They don't mean anything. Their fresh by dates, so if this product is precious by the state of the package. Especially things like and products, our good will be on their eight by dates. We worked a lot with the people who distribute our food and we learn how to gleam through those products. We will go through -- that not only do we have materials we provide them but there is also materials online. Is a really nice app called by the USDA food keepers. Basically what it does is give you a project and talk to the days of the month it is good after that date. Very interesting. Any items from the supermarket -- they might build the stomach that they are not necessarily be healthiest those. Argue avoid giving people -- how do you avoid giving people packaged or jump from? 73% of our food is considered nutritious. We do that to our partnerships with California Association of food banks and local farmers. Also working with the grocery stores we are able to have access to products like milk or eggs and meat. Things that people -- our clients cannot afford. But are things that grocery stores always have plenty of. If we are able to get them and get them to the clients fast which is the model we strive for -- the quickest distribution possible. We are able to provide them nutritious and helpful meals per Part of the focus of stopping food waste is reducing the amount of food that actually end up in our landfills. Why is that a concern? Is a concern because food and landfall decomposes improperly and causes methane gas which is 25 times more powerful as a contributor to the climate change. From a climate change and global warming perspective a lot of national and statewide regulatory bodies are paying attention to this issue. So it is not only goal for our community that all this food waste is happening, but also for the atmosphere is well. That is part of the reason why there is a lot of encouragement for these different types of solutions and businesses are coming to the food banks to see how they can address this food waste issue. That is also one of the reasons you have been talking about what happens on the end -- what happens to the refuse to -- after these packaged foods and meets are passed out to people who need them. What actually happens to the stuff that has to be thrown out? You have been talking about food scraps and returning data the bonds, how would that work? Currently there are limitations -- as I mentioned community composting facilities. Have permitting standards they really can't meet right now so we are working to ease those barriers. Ideally what would like to see if an apple that is grown and an organic orchard to be actually eaten and that scrap going back into the local farm with their compost or animal the. That is the cycle we would like to see happen. There is still a lot of work to be done to build that community infrastructure. The distribution systems are happening and we have composting facilities that are smaller and more local that can handle that kind of food waste locally. To miles away solutions Summit is the first of its kind in San Diego. What do you hope to accomplish in this first meeting? We are hoping to accomplish is bringing together different sectors together and breaking down the silos and elevating our label of awareness -- level of awareness in the community. We are bringing experts to talk about his practices on how to address the issue in other communities. We hope to learn from that and collaborate and identified with solutions together. So that we as a community can move forward on this issue. I am wondering Kelly, what would you like to see come out of this first meeting? More resources for meeting San Diego? Absolutely. But also the collaboration and education of food donations. A lot of businesses do not understand how easy it might be to donate food a lot of businesses think they might be liable if they donate through. This is not the case. There are lots of places -- laws in place that protect businesses from liability. Is a real education piece. Only that they can donate but how to donate and will to talk to. We are there as a resource and we would love to talk to them about it. Is the summit opens the public? Yes it has been open to the public but we are now sold out without tickets. I do want to encourage the listeners to participate in this conversation by social media. To follow what is going on at the summit but also participate in the conversation around the waist and the San Diego. In general. I do want to encourage as a citizen we can both with our forks. As Kelly had mentioned with the expiration dates we can talk to the retail distances to really encourage them to donate food that it is expired. We can also go to our local farmers market to select the ugliest looking produce and the vegetables -- that may not go to market. Good luck tomorrow. I have been speaking with Lee Brown, she is with the San Diego bowl system alliance. And Kelly Krasner with feeding America San Diego. Thank you both. A group that has been working to create food justice in San Diego. Project new village is celebrating an anniversary. That is KPBS midday edition continues.
One in seven San Diego County residents, or about 500,000 people annually, don't know where their next meal is coming from. Yet nearly 500,000 tons of food waste is dumped into landfills every year.
On Tuesday, community, government and business leaders will join together for the first-ever Food Waste Solution Summit to address hunger in San Diego County and the environmental impact of food waste.
The summit is being organized by the San Diego Food System Alliance.
Food waste isn't limited to San Diego County. The U.S. Department of Agriculture and Environmental Protection Agency announced last month a goal of reducing food waste by 50 percent by 2030.
"Food waste is a national problem but we believe it takes local solutions," Elly Brown, facilitator for the San Diego Food System Alliance, told KPBS Midday Edition on Monday. "It requires more coordinated solutions — more efficiency between farm to fork."
Brown said market challenges and "arbitrary" expiration dates contribute to the problem.
Food that isn't able to sell in stores is given to nonprofits like Feeding America San Diego, said food rescue coordinator Kelly Kratzer. In turn, the nonprofit focuses heavily on providing food to the region's children.
Kratzer said one in five children in San Diego County aren't getting enough food.
"Our children are our future," Kratzer said. "Without the proper nutrition, they aren't able to succeed in school."
Tuesday's Food Waste Solution Summit is sold-out but the public can join the conversation on Twitter by following #SDfoodsys.