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‘Tis the Season to Take Action on Hunger & Climate Change

December 4, 2020

Demand for food assistance has more than doubled during the COVID-19 pandemic, with nearly 1 in 4 Californians without enough to eat. Sheltering-in-place makes it difficult to take part in traditional in-person holiday food drives and fundraising events. But this year it’s more important than ever to help people struggling to feed their families during the holidays. In this season of giving, the California Association of Food Banks is proud to join CalRecycle to share practical steps we can all take to make a real difference together.

“With layoffs and distance learning, California families are facing hunger like they never have before,” notes Stacia Levenfeld, our CEO. More Californians than ever struggle to feed their families this year. But as 23 percent of Californians don’t know where their next meal will come from, California landfills more than 11 billion pounds of food each year. When food waste and other organic materials decompose in landfills, they emit methane, a short-lived climate super pollutant 84 times more potent than carbon dioxide and a major contributor to climate change. 

For those who want to help Californians hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic this holiday season, CAFB and CalRecycle recommend the following actions: 

  • Donate: A $1 dollar donation to food banks helps provide 5 meals to struggling California families. Find your nearest hunger relief organization here: http://cafoodbanks.org/find-food-assistance.
  • Volunteer: A few hours of your time will help food banks collect, store, transport and distribute food to your neighbors in need, while also helping your community divert good food away from landfills to fight climate change. Contact your local hunger relief organization about safe, socially distanced volunteer opportunities.
  • Share the message: Spread the word about supporting local food recovery groups to help those hardest hit by the COVID-19 economic crisis. Share information with family and friends on social media.

CAFB: @CAFoodBanks on InstagramTwitter, & Facebook. CalRecycle: @CalRecycle on InstagramTwitter, & Facebook

“California food banks do so much good for communities by supporting those in need and providing fresh food to people who need it,” says CalRecycle Acting Director Ken DaRosa. “Reducing food waste by supporting local hunger relief organizations is something every Californian can do right now to protect our planet and help others this holiday season.” Check out CalRecycle’s food waste prevention page to learn how reducing food waste through support of local hunger relief efforts can reduce climate super pollutants.

CalRecycle proudly supports food recovery groups as they fight food insecurity. As a department under the California Environmental Protection Agency, CalRecycle has a mission to help Californians waste less and reuse and recycle more to protect public health and the environment. Food and other organic waste makes up more than half of the material Californians put in the trash each year, resulting in landfill methane emissions that accelerate climate change. Grants from CalRecycle to food recovery organizations have helped turn still fresh, surplus food from businesses and farms into 86 million meals that feed Californians in need.

CalRecycle is helping cities and counties implement a new law to reduce organic waste and the super pollutants it creates in landfills. In addition to statewide organic waste collection, starting in January of 2022 the law will require large food businesses like supermarkets and food wholesalers to donate still fresh food instead of throwing it in the trash. Learn more about CalRecycle’s efforts to implement California’s Short-Lived Climate Pollutant Reduction Law (SB 1383, Lara, Chapter 395, Statutes of 2016).

This law builds upon the state’s commitment to reduce pollution and greenhouse gas emissions statewide, improve human health, and create clean jobs that support resilient local economies.
It requires:

  • A statewide edible food recovery target that requires grocery stores, food wholesalers, restaurants, schools, and other food businesses to recover the maximum amount of their edible food they previously landfilled, and to redirect it to food recovery organizations. No other state or country has set food rescue requirements this high.  
  • 75 percent statewide reduction in organic waste disposal by 2025.
  • Organics recycling collection must be provided by all California cities and counties to all residents and businesses, starting in 2022.

Without healthy people, we can’t fight for a healthy planet, and without a healthy planet, we can’t have healthy people. So let’s feed Californians and combat climate change by reducing surplus food during the holidays.

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