California’s Waste Management: A Strategy to Fight Hunger

Recycling in a ever changing ecologically sensitive world has a long standing yet underutilized resource : Food Scraps. This very important waste product has become a valuable resource. According to the California Integrated Waste Management Board aka CIWMB, Food scrap management prioritizes their efforts in the following categories: prevention of food waste, feeding people, conversion to animal feed, and soil enrichment through compost.

California is one of the leading states in the successful management and “mining” of this natural energy resource; the following is a list of Bay Area cities offering food scrap recycling programs:

Alameda; Albany; Berkeley; Castro Valley; Dublin; Emeryville; Hayward; Livermore; Newark; Oakland; Pleasanton; San Leandro; Union City; San Francisco.

Although all facets of food scrap management, from prevention of waste, conversion to feed products, creating landfill space, and soil enrichment through compost, are very important– let us focus on the feeding of people in this management effort.

The best way to help your community’s efforts, and those hungry souls who desperately need help, is to know how your local food bank and food rescue organizations operate. The best resource for information on California Food Banks is at cafoodbanks.org. According to CIWMB, “food banks are community based, professional organizations that collect food, save food in warehouses, then distribute it to hungry families and individuals through local human services agencies.” Although part of the food donated by food banks remains canned goods (due to spoilage factor), a significant and growing effort is being implemented to bring perishable foods to needy people.

Why should you care about this information? What is the urgency? I invite you to investigate the California Food Policy Advocates web site for the horrific truth. Inside you will find the section on “food insecurity” a nifty semantic tag line sanitizing what is the equivalent of never knowing whether you will be forced to send your child to bed hungry!

The Food Insecurity section also includes the report: “Touched by Hunger: A County by County report on Hunger and Food Insecurity in California. According to CFPA, “5 million Californians are food insecure and 1.2 million of those residents go hungry.” These statistics are dated yet remain vital to understanding the problem at hand. With a population of roughly 30 million, nearly 17% of the state’s citizenry deal with a lack of food or hunger every day!

The city of San Francisco, one of the most affluent cities in the nation, is a microcosm of this problem. “Touched by Hunger” states that “47,000 adults report food insecurity or hunger everyday. . . The estimated number of other persons living in these households: 118,000. Total number of people touched by food insecurity and hunger in San Francisco county: 165,000. ” That is in excess of 20% of the population touched by this epidemic.

We can do better; we should do better. Food scrap recycling can and will be an important practice in the fight against hunger. . .

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