The hunger and food insecurity crisis

In every state, county, and city, a food insecurity crisis quietly endures. Today, 54 million Americans do not have access to nutritious food, a most basic necessity for survival. The food insecurity rate in the U.S. is an astonishing 11.5% and continues to grow with COVID, creating a devasting ripple effect.

Due to COVID, many people are experiencing food insecurity for the first time. As unemployment rates hit historic highs, families and individuals are forced to make tough choices and sacrifices every day. After paying rent, mortgage, healthcare and critical expenses, many Americans must choose between going hungry or eating inexpensive, unhealthy food void of nourishment.

The food waste crisis

While millions of Americans go hungry, 40% of food produced in the United States is ultimately wasted. Twenty-two percent of all landfill waste is comprised of perfectly good food. Decomposed food waste in landfills release methane gas, which is toxic and a potent greenhouse gas pollutant.

Food recovery is the solution

At Waste Not OC, we are on a mission to educate people and communities that there IS enough food to go around – and that there are an abundance of solutions available to reduce food insecurity and food waste. We are helping to give food a second life and get it to where it’s needed most.

Hunger, food waste and climate change are deeply complex and interrelated. At Waste Not OC, we have created the nation’s first comprehensive food recovery model that provides cost benefits to the public, private and non-profit sectors. We are proud that our food recovery program is recognized by industry leaders and community partners for its effectiveness and proven results.

Simply put, we help to get food to the right people, at the right place, at the right time. We connect the different parts of the food supply chain to optimize and accelerate the movement of food. This way, we can feed more people and stop wasting a precious natural resource.

Rescuing

By rescuing excess edible food, we are giving food a second chance. We connect this abundance with people so that families can experience delicious, healthy, wholesome food—some of them for the first time.

Collaborating

By working with the food industry on the best methods to safely reduce, reuse and recover excess edible food, we ultimately provide solutions that reduce food waste and operating costs.

Educating

By educating consumers on how to waste less food by making small changes in their daily habits, we empower them to contribute to the solution.

Measuring

By measuring and monitoring how much food is recovered, we capture the data that demonstrates (verifies) the social, environmental and economic impact we’re making in our communities.

If we all embrace these actions, we can feed more and waste less. We CAN reverse the negative trends on food insecurity and climate change. But we must act NOW.

 

The benefits of a connected food supply chain are abundant. Since 2012, we’ve implemented this food recovery model in Orange County and are happy to share significant wins:

  • Better Health
    In partnership with local healthcare providers, we’ve introduced a screening program to identify individuals who are food insecure. Since 2017, we’ve screened nearly 200,000 individuals and referred 25% of this group to local pantries and resources for how to access healthy food reducing the medical costs associated with food insecurity. This helps to reduce the medical costs associated with food insecurity.
  • Planet Positive
    By diverting food waste from landfills, we are able to calculate the amount of greenhouse gases we’ve taken out of the atmosphere. Since 2014, we’ve recovered 57 million pounds of food in Orange County. This equates to taking 11,000 cars off the road for an entire year.
  • Resilient Communities
    In Orange County, we are quickly responding to a health emergency by implementing the Emergency Nutritious Food Management Program to serve 55,000 nutritious meals weekly. Through innovations such as our food repurposing kitchen network, solar-powered portable cold storage units, and smart logistics and inventory control, we are able to cost-effectively prepare, package, store and distribute millions of nutritious meals throughout the county.
  • Economic Development
    There are several important economic benefits. Food recovery creates jobs in culinary kitchens at colleges and food recovery kitchens. For the food service industry, food waste reduction results in cost savings. With over 47 million meals rescued from landfills, we have put $15.5 million back into the community.

California’s SB 1383 – California’s Fight Against Climate Change

In September 2016, recognizing that food waste contributes to climate change, California’s Governor Brown signed into law SB 1383, establishing methane reduction targets in a statewide effort to reduce emissions.

California SB 1383 requires that by 2025 we must reach:

  • 75% reduction in landfilled organic waste
  • 20% increase in recovery of currently disposed edible food

In order to meet these requirements, outreach and action must start now. Regulations and state enforcements take effect January 1, 2022. This law requires Tier 1 and Tier 2 food waste generators to participate in this organics recycling program, and that jurisdictions must educate and establish a food recovery program for businesses and their community.

Join us as part of the national solution

Waste Not OC is creating a national social movement to reduce hunger and protect the environment. In order to achieve significant, large-scale social and environmental impact, we must work together in contributing to the solution.