Feeding San Diego prepares for more food donations with new state law
Speaker 1: (00:00)
Thanksgiving. And the holiday season are always important times of year for the feeding San Diego organization, hunger relief groups, try to gear up to make sure people can get access to the foods that make the holidays something special. This year, feeding San Diego is also gearing up for another special event. Starting January 1st, a new state law requires food handling businesses like supermarkets to start donating surplus edible food to hunger relief organizations, alike feeding San Diego. That means that those organizations will have to increase both capacity and distribution to feed more people and keep more discarded food waste out of landfills. Joining me is feeding San Diego, chief supply chain, officer patio, Connor Patty. Welcome. Thank you. Now, feeding San Diego already gets quite a lot of food donated from local food businesses. So how does this new law Senate bill 1383? How does that change the status quo?
Speaker 2: (01:01)
Well, it changes the status quo by now. It's a requirement starting January 1st, um, before it was the people that would be donating to us. We're doing it for various reasons, but it wasn't a requirement by law and starting January 1st, grocery stores and other, they call them food generators are going to be required to donate their excess edible food. So it will increase the amount of food that goes back into the community.
Speaker 1: (01:27)
And climate change is sort of the real target of this bill. At least the code target of this bill, how will rescuing and donating more food, help mitigate climate change.
Speaker 2: (01:37)
So what we can tell you is that food, when it goes into the landfill generates methane and methane is a force, one of the worst pollutants and with so much food going into the landfill, it's generating so much methane and affecting our environment. So this bill does something that's twofold, which is so great. It's reducing the amount of landfill and improving the environment. And at the same time, it is rescuing food that would otherwise go into the landfill. So we're feeding people at the same time.
Speaker 1: (02:08)
So this bill creates two tiers of food businesses that have to start donating surplus food. Tell us more about that.
Speaker 2: (02:15)
Correct. So January 1st, 2022, the first group of people that will have to be doing that, um, are going to be the larger grocery stores, um, wholesale vendors and food distributors. And then January 1st, 2024, that will start including large restaurant facilities, hotels, health facilities, um, large venues and events and local education agencies as well.
Speaker 1: (02:39)
How much of the food feeding San Diego already distributes is rescued from supermarkets and restaurants?
Speaker 2: (02:47)
Well, overall we rescue about 27 million pounds of food. And 70% of what we distribute is rescued food. As far as how much we get from local restaurants and local markets, we are rescuing about 900,000 pounds a month, which translates into a little over a million meals a month that we then are putting back out into the community.
Speaker 1: (03:08)
Okay. So even though surplus food donations are already significant, as you just told us, how much of an increase do you expect when this new law goes into effect?
Speaker 2: (03:19)
You don't really know exactly the amount that's going to be increased. I know that the goal is to, uh, reduce the waste by 20%, but that's all throughout California. So we are just gearing up to be able to accept more food and bring on more partners, but we don't really have an exact number of how much more that would be.
Speaker 1: (03:39)
And how are you gearing up? How will that change your facilities and your distribution chains?
Speaker 2: (03:45)
What we're doing is we are looking to add more partners on the donor side because we know they're going to be out there, but we're also looking to add more partners on the distribution side. So right now we partner with about 300 local agencies, such as churches or community groups that are the ones that are on the ground, right. They get the food and they distribute it to their neighbors in their community. So we're looking for more partners in that regard and we do sign new people up every month. It's something that if people are interested in being able to distribute food into their communities, they can go to our feeding San diego.org site. And with that, we're also gearing up. We're getting more vehicles to pick up the donations we are asking for more volunteers to help us distribute and to go through and sort the donations. So we were pretty much gearing up for this, um, all around.
Speaker 1: (04:36)
Well, speaking of distributing donations, I know right now you're hosting drive-through food distributions in many areas across the county. Tell us about feeding San Diego's together.
Speaker 2: (04:47)
Sure. Yes. Art together tour has been going on since February of this year. And it is such a wonderful thing that's going on. We're so glad to be able to share the food with the community. What we're doing is we're an all parts of San Diego. So for example, this week we're in Fallbrook and Chula Vista. Next week, we'll be in Ramona San Marcos. We're also in Carlsbad, Escondido Sorento valley, spring valley. And what we do is we go to where there's a large parking lot where we can handle up to a thousand cars come through and there it's even stopped. Uh, we, we put them through very safely people stop and get the first box of dried, uh, shelf-stable goods about 25 pounds worth of product. And then the next stop is they're going to get about 15 to 20 pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables, and then a final stop you get about, um, five to 10 pounds of a frozen protein. And so it equates to about 50 pounds of food per family. Um, and the only thing we ask is that if you can register online, that helps us with the amount of food that we offering. It's just a really great way to get food out to the people in San Diego that need it.
Speaker 1: (05:53)
Have you seen an increase in the need for food at these distributions?
Speaker 2: (05:59)
You know what we definitely have, unfortunately, we were thinking it might go down, but, um, it really hasn't gone down. In fact, in the last month or two, we've seen an increase in the number of people coming. So that's unfortunate and it's a cause of what's going on in our times. So yeah, we have seen an increase in, we will continue to be out there, distributing the food until we see there isn't a need anymore.
Speaker 1: (06:22)
What about the price of food we've been hearing that prices are going up, supply chain shortages. It has that affected getting more donations.
Speaker 2: (06:31)
Yes. The price of food has been going up as you've been hearing. And we are seeing that we belong to a feeding America network. So we're fortunate in that we're able to tap into a supply chain that services the whole country for the foods that we buy, as far as how it's affecting the cost of our donation items. We rescue food from over 200 farms across California, and we do have to pay for the transportation of that produce. And that is just gone up extraordinarily in the last year. I mean, it's a lot more expensive now to have a truck come from middle of California, Northern California, down here to deliver the produce. So we are seeing a need for more financial donations actually to help us cover those costs
Speaker 1: (07:15)
During the holiday season, how much consideration goes into getting the traditional holiday foods to people?
Speaker 2: (07:22)
I am so excited this season because as you know, we are distributing our boxes of food out in the community. Um, and this season we made a really concerted effort to make sure there are the typical holiday items in there. So we're going to be including stuffing sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, cranberries, all of those things that we think about when we think about, um, holiday table, particularly around Thanksgiving. So I'm very excited about those items that are going to be part of our box.
Speaker 1: (07:49)
And where can people get more information on finding a together tour or getting food assistance in general? Yes.
Speaker 2: (07:56)
So if you go to feeding San diego.org, we've got a website and if you would like to find help, there's a button that says find help and it will take you to the different together tourists where you can go and register. And it'll tell you the dates and the times and the locations. And there's also a button on there too, for donations. If you'd like to be a donation partner, whether it be food or financial, it's really easy to go there and click on those. And you can find your way there.
Speaker 1: (08:23)
I've been speaking with feeding San Diego, chief supply chain, officer Patty O'Connor Patty. Thank you very much. Thank you.
Hunger relief and food rescue organization Feeding San Diego is gearing up for an increase in food donations starting Jan. 1, 2022, as a new state law goes into effect that's designed to prevent food waste and help alleviate climate change.
Starting in the new year, California Senate Bill 1383 will require food handling businesses, like supermarkets, to start donating surplus edible food to hunger relief organizations.
Feeding San Diego chief supply chain officer Patty O’Connor spoke with KPBS Midday Edition on Tuesday and said the bill will be beneficial to the state in multiple ways.
"Food, when it goes into the landfill, generates methane, and methane is, of course, one of the worst pollutants," she said. "This bill does something that's two-fold, which is so great. It's reducing the amount of landfill and will improve the environment, and at the same time it is rescuing food that would otherwise go into the landfill, so we're feeding people at the same time."
O'Connor said the bill is made up of two tiers, categorizing which businesses are required to comply.
"Jan. 1, 2022, the first group of people that will have to be doing that are going to be the larger grocery stores, wholesale vendors and food distributors," she said. "Then, Jan. 1, 2024, that will start including large restaurant facilities, hotels, health facilities, large venues and events and local education agencies as well."
Feeding San Diego rescues about 900,000 pounds of food from local restaurants and local markets, which is equivalent to a little more than 1 million meals going out to the community each month.
For information on how to get food assistance from Feeding San Diego, you can visit Feeding San Diego's website, and click the 'Find Help' button at the top of the home page.