Frequently asked questions
In the United States, food waste is estimated at between 30-40 percent of the food supply chain. This estimate, based on estimates from USDA’s Economic Research Service of 31 percent food loss at the retail and consumer levels, corresponded to approximately 133 billion pounds and $161 billion worth of food in 2010. This amount of waste has far-reaching impacts on society:
- Wholesome food that could have helped feed families in need is sent to landfills.
- Land, water, labor, energy and other inputs are used in producing, processing, transporting, preparing, storing, and disposing of discarded food.
Food loss occurs for many reasons, with some types of loss—such as spoilage—occurring at every stage of the production and supply chain. Between the farm and retail stages, food loss can arise from problems during drying, milling, transporting, or processing that expose food to damage by insects, rodents, birds, molds, and bacteria. At the retail level, equipment malfunction (such as faulty cold storage), over-ordering, and culling of blemished produce can result in food loss. Consumers also contribute to food loss when they buy or cook more than they need and choose to throw out the extras. Finally, there is confusion over food expiration labeling since there is no Federal standard for this. Currently, commonly used phrases include:
- Best if used by/before
In 2015, the USDA joined with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to set a goal to cut our nation’s food waste by 50 percent by the year 2030. In California, by 2025, AB 1383 requires a 75% reduction of 2014 levels of organics in the landfill.
USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS) defines food loss as the edible amount of food, postharvest, that is available for human consumption but is not consumed for any reason. It includes cooking loss and natural shrinkage (for example, moisture loss); loss from mold, pests, or inadequate climate control; and food waste. For the reduction goal, USDA is adopting the convention of using the general term “food loss and waste” to describe reductions in edible food mass anywhere along the food chain. In some of the statistics and activities surrounding recycling, the term “waste” is stretched to include non-edible (by humans) parts of food such as banana peels, bones, and egg shells.
The best approach to reducing food loss and waste is not to create it in the first place. Waste can be avoided by improving product development, storage, shopping/ordering, marketing, labeling, and cooking methods. If excess food is unavoidable, recover it to donate to hunger-relief organizations so that they can feed people in need. Inedible food can be recycled into other products such as animal feed, compost and worm castings, bioenergy, bioplastics and clothing.
- Plan your meals for the week by inventorying your pantry first
- Set up a compost bin at home, work or at school
- Encourage your team to have a “waste-free” day
- Pilot a “Too Good To Waste” challenge (westcoastclimateforum.com)
- Host a monthly (or when feasible) potluck centered around “leftovers”
- Encourage use of reusable containers, utensils, etc. at all gatherings
- Only buy what you know you will eat
- Take leftovers home (bring your own reusable container)
- Split a meal with a friend or family member
- Ask your waiter if the restaurant has a food waste prevention policy, if not, encourage them to contact Waste-Free Ventura County. If you see opportunities for food donation connections, please let us know!
- Start a neighbor garden sharing group
- Try to find local sources for your grocery shopping – farmers markets or CSA’s
- Avoid food prep delivery services
- If you buy in bulk, mix & match meals to use up items before they spoil, i.e. split 1 lb of meat into a taco meal and a meaty pasta sauce.
- Consider shopping from discount wholesalers who sell local “ugly” products (Imperfect Foods),
- Look at the labels – best by and sell by dates
- Practice FIFO with food storage
- Invest in good food storage containers
- Make soups and bone broths with leftovers
- Compost leftovers
- At School, take only what you will eat from the cafeteria
- Use the designated Share Table if there is one. If there isn’t one, ask if you can start one
- Recycle & compost what you can – establish a food composting program is your school doesn’t have one
- Coordinate a food waste audit
- Bring in an expert guest speaker to help
- School cafeterias can donate to food panties – especially at the end of the schoolyear
- Tell your cafeteria staff you want to help them reduce food waste. Use this handy guide: Eco-Schools
Answer: 4.6 million
On average, 1 out of every 8 Californians does not know where their next meal will come from.
Answer: 1.7 million
With a child food insecurity rate of 19%, around one in five children in California may go to bed hungry each night. This places California at the 20th highest child food insecurity rate in the nation.
Answer: 1.7 million
85% of children who benefit from the federally funded free or reduce-price lunches during the school year miss the similar lunch programs available in the summer. Every summer, 17 of 20 low-income students fall into the summer nutrition gap.
Answer: 7.9 million
California has the nation’s highest rate of poverty at 20.6% according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Supplemental Poverty Measure. Food insecurity often goes hand-in-hand with poverty, but this relationship can vary depending on medical expenses, employment status, and cost of living.
Unexpected or extended periods of unemployment can often render a household food insecure. Some areas of California have among the highest rates of unemployment in the country.
While it may seem counterintuitive, obesity and food insecurity often go hand-in-hand. High prices and limited access to fresh fruits and vegetables can restrict the ability of low-income individuals to make healthy food choices. With limited time, funds, and options, people may turn to inexpensive, unhealthy foods that can lead to obesity and other negative health outcomes.
A third of young adults are prediabetic. Food insecurity is a major risk factor in the onset of diabetes and can also jeopardize an individual’s ability to manage their disease. Access to healthy food has been found to help control the disease and to help individuals adhere to strict medication requirements. Within the state 9%, or 2.5 million, adults are diagnosed diabetic.
CalFresh, formerly known as “food stamps,” helps millions of families afford the food they need each month. As of 2014, California had the 4th lowest rate of participation in the nation, in front of Nevada, North Dakota and Wyoming. Of the 66% receiving the benefit, 74% are households with children and 50% are working families.
Answer: $2.5 billion
If CalFresh reached 100% of all eligible individuals, California would receive an estimated $2.5 billion in additional federal nutrition benefits each year. These benefits would generate an estimated $4.5 billion in additional economic activity per year for California’s agricultural and retail communities.
Your agency must provide a 501(c)3 and/or tax id and must have the ability to safely receive food donations.
While setting up your profile, you will specify receiving hours, type and quantities of food your agency is capable of receiving. Once a donor posts a donation, the application will match the available food with the agency profile that is the best fit.
Delivery times and temperatures are critical elements of food safety. Our goal is to keep the travel time to a minimum especially when taking into account Southern California traffic.
We ask our donors to donate a minimum of 10 meals/pounds for each food donation.
Yes, you may specify what food you can and cannot take while setting up your agencies individual profile.
Absolutely, your agency’s volunteers will be signed up as Food Runners for the express purpose of supplying your agency.
It is important that the agency keep their profile up to date, which includes hours of operation and any vacation schedules. This ensures that a food donation is matched with your agency when you are available to receive the food.
Each donation you receive is recorded on the application. These reports are available through your online account.
After the food donation is dropped off at your agency please check the product temperature and close out the run on the application immediately which will record the ‘delivery’ time (critical element of food safety). After you have received the donation please rate your experience. This is how we gain feedback and make any necessary changes to our program. Please also verify that the pounds donated reflected on the app match the actual donation you received. If it does not match, please make the necessary changes so that they do.
The app admin will review your profile, this usually takes up to 48 hours. If we have any questions we may contact you for additional information. After your profile has been reviewed and accepted you may start posting your donations through our online system. We will send you a message letting you know your account has been activated.
We accept fresh, frozen, perishable and non-perishable, packaged or bulk food products that have been prepared and handled in accordance with state and local food handling guidelines. There are many different wholesome foods you can donate. Donating food that is no longer suitable for consumption or has not been handled according to the above-mentioned guidelines puts your organization at risk.
Every volunteer handling food will have access to food safety instruction specifically for food recovery and must pass a food safety test prior to participating. They will not be granted access to the application until they pass this in-depth quiz. In addition, reporting will detail the time of and location of pickups and drop offs so you know your donation was handled safely.
There is no maximum donation size, however we do prefer that your donation is enough to feed either 10 people or at least 10 pounds.
The number of pounds you have donated and what agencies received your food donation will be available to you through the application. If you would like any additional information please contact the administrator.
If your donation does not receive a match, please hold it in your walk-in until the next morning and try to match it again. If you are still having trouble matching your donation to a food runner or agency, please contact WFVC directly at 805-981-6645.
In order to donate to an agency, you must be a permitted food facility. There are many ways individuals can help end hunger, unfortunately we cannot accept individual donations.
The Federal Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act provides donors with liability protection providing the donor is certain the food has been handled safely and in accordance with state and local food handling guidelines. Food runners are also provided with food recovery materials that insure the safe donation of your excess food to a food pantry while checking the critical time and temperatures.
- Tax deductions are available based on your donations.
- Participation in food recovery program as part of a waste diversion effort puts your organization in compliance with new state laws.
- Donation of excess wholesome edible food add to your organization’s bottom line through:
- Reduced food costs.
- Mitigate the rising cost associated with waste diversion.
- Positive public relations in your community.
Anyone with a good driving record, valid driver’s license, auto insurance, a clean vehicle and meets the requirements specified in the volunteer agreement . Every volunteer will be given the necessary knowledge and food recovery materials needed to safely transport food from donor to recipient.
We get many high schools students who will volunteer with their parents. This allows them to get volunteer credit if their high school requires it. Please contact the app administrator for any extra steps or forms that need to be signed in order to receive high school volunteer hours.
You may volunteer one time or you may volunteer weekly. As long as you have a couple hours to spare at any given time, you can help make a difference.
The Waste Free VC encourages volunteers to learn about food safety. There are lots of online resources that will teach you all about food safety as it pertains to food recovery. You will be learn about food safety guidelines and you can take a quiz which will confirm you have the required knowledge to safely transport food as a volunteer food runner.