Fighting Climate Change by Feeding Those in Need
Team Edible Launches California's First Edible Food Recovery Public Meeting
CalRecycle "Team Edible" – Kyle Pogue, Martine Boswell, and Cara Morgan
This past Thursday, February 27, CalRecycle partnered with Yolo Food Bank for California’s very first SB 1383 edible food recovery public kick-off meeting, giving 100 leaders from food recovery organizations, edible food generators, and jurisdictions an in-depth look at how new edible food recovery mandates provide an opportunity to redirect unsold, edible food to Californians who need it most.
Julie Trueblood from CalRecycle's Local Assistance and Management (LAMD) team, presented at the event.
“There is so much food waste that is disposed of on a daily basis in California,” pointed out Martine Boswell, a CalRecycle environmental scientist who advises on food waste prevention, edible food recovery, and overall food waste management. “Edible food that is disposed is unnecessary and, in most cases, completely preventable.”
Martine explained that while SB 1383, a bill with a goal to reduce short-lived climate pollutants in the atmosphere, has two organic waste disposal reduction targets, it also includes a goal: that 20 percent of edible food currently sent to landfills must be recovered for human consumption by 2025.
This target provides an opportunity to sustainably fund infrastructure and capacity to help bring millions of pounds of edible food, which retailers have historically sent to landfills, to the one in eight Californians who are food insecure, often not knowing where or when they will get their next meal.
The term "edible food" means food intended for human consumption. But it must also meet the food safety requirements of the California Retail Food Code. “Food safety is absolutely critical,” Martine assured the gathered stakeholders from Yolo County.
CalRecycle Deputy Director Matt Henigan discussed the issues of climate change and hunger that SB 1383 addresses.
“SB 1383 is the most wide-ranging and impactful solid waste legislation of the last 30 years,” CalRecycle Deputy Director Matt Henigan told the audience. “It requires a reduction of organic waste by 75 percent by 2025. It also requires a 20 percent edible food recovery goal…This is unique and groundbreaking for California.”
“We’re very proud at CalRecycle to be a part of feeding hungry people,” Matt Henigan went on, addressing how short-lived climate pollutant bill SB 1383 gives his staff a chance to both help the environment and make a tangible difference to California’s one in five food insecure children.
Explaining the reason CalRecycle was tasked with reducing organic waste disposal, Matt added that “Two-thirds of the waste stream is organic waste and food waste is the largest component of the waste stream. Landfilling organic waste emits methane, and 21 percent of methane emissions come from landfills. Methane is 70 times more potent than CO2 as a greenhouse gas global warming contributor, which has led to climate change impacts: fires, coastal erosion, and impacts on agriculture. Every 2.5 tons of food that’s diverted is the equivalent of taking one car off the road for a year. Reducing these emissions is by far the best investment we can make.”
“One in five children in Yolo County is going to go to bed hungry tonight. What are we going to do about it?” Yolo County Health and Human Services Agency Service Centers Branch Manager Nolan Sullivan (pictured above) pointed out the opportunity to solve this significant, problem while working to reach SB 1383’s 20 percent edible food recovery targets.
CalRecycle staff who took part in the event, from left to right: Matt Henigan (MMLA), Joe Rasmussen (LAMD), Julie Trueblood (LAMD), Ashlee Yee (LAMD), Maria West (Public Affairs), Cara Morgan (LAMD), Tom Steel (Executive Fellow), Pinar Kose (LAMD), Alex Byrne (FiRM), Martine Boswell (STAR), Kyle Pogue (STAR), Sheina Meiners (FiRM), Jeffory McDaniel (LAMD), Ken Yee (LAMD), and John Duke (LAMD).
CalRecycle organics staff came together for this exciting event that the department sees as a model for many more food recovery collaboration launches throughout our state in the next year. Forging these connections will help jurisdictions, edible food generators, and food recovery organizations improve existing food recovery networks to ensure that edible food is diverted from landfills and put to its highest and best use of helping feed people in need.