Every year tons of edible food gets thrown into RecycleSmart’s compost bins. That’s better than the landfill, but it’s still a waste—especially since there are thousands of families in our county who need healthy meals.
Fortunately, there’s a solution! There are organizations within Contra Costa County working to manage edible food donation. Local businesses can donate unused produce, canned goods, dairy products, and prepared meals. Edible food donation provides food to our neighborhoods and reduces waste by diverting useable food from the compost and landfill streams.
Edible food donation is a great idea, and soon it will be the law (for commercial food providers).
Donation organizations like Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano Counties, White Pony Express, Copia, St. Vincent De Paul can get food quickly to communities where it’s needed most. Businesses benefit too—they can enjoy tax benefits and make smarter purchasing decisions for the future.
As part of California’s waste-reduction bill, SB 1383, most food providers (like supermarkets, restaurants, and large institutions with on-site kitchens) will be required to participate in donation programs starting in 2022. You can learn more at RecycleSmart.org/food-recovery
Many food donation programs rely on volunteer support. If you’d like to get involved, more information is on our website at RecycleSmart.org/food-recovery
Congratulations to young artist Alexandra, 13, from Walnut Creek, the winner of the RecycleSmart Sticker Art Contest!
Alexandra created the outstanding poster, above, to remind us that fruit stickers are trash, not compost! We received quite an array of terrific submissions and were happy to send prize packs to the artists. Themes of worms, trees, and dinosaurs delighted the panel of judges. Thank you to all of the young readers who participated:
Alexandra, 13, Walnut Creek
Alice, 7, and little sister Lucy
Annabelle, 6, Lafayette
Caleb, 17, Lafayette
Ellie, 9, Lafayette
Gillian, 8, Walnut Creek
Ibrahim, 7, Walnut Creek
Kaitlyn, 10, Moraga
Luther, 6, William, 4, and Jackson, 2, Orinda
Valentine, 7, Walnut Creek
Soon, supermarkets, restaurants, and food suppliers across Contra Costa will be required to donate surplus edible food to communities that need it most. They will be able to coordinate with local organizations that already exist to manage the logistics!
One organization, White Pony Express, was founded in 2013, driven by a commitment to healthy communities. The dedicated staff at White Pony Express has distributed over 9 million pounds of edible food to hungry families and individuals throughout Contra Costa County.
White Pony Express and other organizations can help local businesses set up and manage their donation programs. Their support means food providers can comply with State regulations while they help feed our communities.
Congratulations to these five outstanding students! Each of them earned a Waste Reduction Student Scholarship this year! Each year, RecycleSmart awards scholarships to several high school students who made real change and reduced waste at their schools. This year’s scholarship winners are (clockwise from top):
Campolindo High School
Even in middle school, Ava helped organize to ban styrofoam from schools in her district. Her activism includes the Environmental Club at Campolindo, Fridays for the Future and Save Mount Diablo. She starts at California State University (CSU) Chico this fall, studying Civil Engineering. The cities of the future are in good hands!
Las Lomas High School
Elena joined the Green Team at her school to cut food waste by taking inventory of the school’s waste bins (use the chart inside to do this at home!). She kept the team organized and coordinated with school faculty and other student groups. She will study Environmental Science at University of California Davis.
Miramonte High School
Krista’s dedication to sustainability is all-encompassing. When she wasn’t upcycling thrift shop clothing, she co-led Miramonte’s Environmental Club. She will start at Loyola Marymount University this fall, studying Environmental Studies and Political Science (a powerful combination)!
Campolindo High School
Lexi collaborated with multiple groups to create a fun recycling behavior video. In just two months after its release, Campolindo’s waste diversion rate increased from 48% to 54%! She will study Environmental Science at CSU Monterey Bay this fall.
Miramonte High School
Inspired by a trip to Ecuador, Tess coordinated with different clubs across campus to implement a student-run bin monitoring program during lunch. Her commitment will continue this fall as she studies sustainability at University of New Hampshire.
Complete info about our scholarships is at RecycleSmart.org/schools-programs
A tip from Vanessa P. in Lafayette
Recently our family started keeping track of the things we put in our compost pail. We have a checklist where we mark what goes in—food scraps, soiled paper, leftovers, etc.
Most of the waste is banana peels, coffee grounds, eggshells and things like that, but we discovered that we also throw out a surprising amount of perfectly good food—just because it spoiled before we ate it.
Our mini-audits help us shop smarter. wWe can save money by buying only what we need and reduce our food waste at the same time!
Editors’ Note: We liked Vanessa’s tip so much that we turned it into our Kid’s Corner activity! Check it out below (the activity is fun for all ages).
We have a sleuthing activity for you this summer. See what your family’s chucking with this scorecard!
How many of these items does your family compost each week?
Tell your family what you learned and they can use it to adjust their shopping or composting habits.
Check out the acvtivity at right, click the image to view at full size.