A Nutrition Student’s Journey To Make An Impact

As a full-time Dietetics and Food Administration, Nutrition and Nutritional Science Option, BS student at California State University, Long Beach, and intern at Food Finders, nutrition and reducing hunger and food waste are an important part of my life.  I learned in my junior year of school at California State, Long Beach how many people in the United States go to bed hungry every night, so many of them children, and my heart broke. I knew then that my passion for nutrition and eating for wellness was not all I was passionate about.

 I quickly became vested in learning how I could not only educate people on the benefits of healthy eating but also reducing food waste, repurposing food, and getting food to those in need. 

I realized that my knack for meal planning and shopping on a limited budget was something that I understand and was a big part of helping people to reduce food waste. The question for me was how could I combine these two skills and make a bigger impact. 

Food Waste is a Problem

Food waste is a huge problem in the United States with the vast majority of waste occurring in the home. Poor planning and expiration dates on the food we purchase are large contributors.  Many would rather toss food they aren’t sure about, which affects the environment’s equity, than risk getting a foodborne illness.  

Repurposing, Resources, and Education is the answer!

We work hard to plan and implement food repurposing through the Partner Agency Coordinators. 

Additionally, we are working hard to provide education and resources that explain not only how to properly store food but how to interpret the various expiration dates we see on food such as “use by”, ‘sell by”, etc. 

The FoodKeepers application supported by the USDA is a great resource to help people sort through the confusing world of labels and dates.  It can help you not only interpret the varying expiration date labels, but also can explain the best storage methods for various foods to reduce waste. 

Meal Planning

Meal planning is one of the biggest ways that all of us can stop food waste. Who hasn’t gone to the grocery store hungry and bought more than they needed?

When you plan your meals or even just your shopping, it reduces food waste.  And don’t forget that planning ahead is also easy on your wallet—a big plus! By planning your meals for the week and then creating your shopping list based on your meals can cut waste by 15% or more.  

Here’s a recipe that will guide you to the deliciousness of potato peel chips.  Not only are they delicious but you are reducing food waste by repurposing your peels into a crunchy snack or appetizer that has a ton more potassium and magnesium than the flesh of the potato as well as 12 times the antioxidants, so eat up.

Tip For Cutting Food Waste

  • Shop the grocery store’s weekly ads. With the cost of food up by 25% or more, finding proteins that are on sale that week is where I start my meal planning.
  • I do NOT go to the store hungry. Going grocery shopping hungry guarantees I will buy some overpriced and over-processed snack that I promptly eat on the way home.  This not only takes me out of budget but is unhealthy.  
  • I stick to my list.
  • I prepare my fruits and veggies for the week.  If I have salads planned I pre-cut and wash my lettuce, carrots, red cabbage, and cucumbers. I also wash and cut up any melons or fruit for the week as well.  Doing this makes busy weeks easier and allows for a nutritious snack of fruit that is easy to grab.

Nutrition Talks Program

This is all information I use when in our Nutrition Talks Program with our partner agencies.  I do a basic overview of nutrition and its importance with interactive tools that keep people engaged in what they are learning. One example is my Nutrition Facts Label workshop which starts with a scavenger hunt looking for a pantry item with a nutrition facts label and ties up with a Q & A on what was learned.  This month I will be visiting Long Beach City College for an interactive demonstration on how to repurpose fruits and vegetables. 

Working with the City of Long Beach to get nutrition education to Long Beach City College is just one way we do our part to reduce waste by repurposing food.  It isn’t enough that we are getting food into the hands of those in need but also to educate them on the many nutrient-dense meals that can be created while reducing waste.   

#StopFoodWasteWednesday #nutritiontalks #tipsforzerowaste #foodfindersinc #LBrecovers #healthyactivelongbeach

Kelly Alarcon, Student at California State University, Long Beach with a concentration in Nutrition and Nutritional Science has a passion for showing others the path to wellness through nutrition while reducing hunger and food waste.

Meatless Monday Recipe by Soul Fire FarmNutrition

“No Kitchen, No Money, No Time” Recipe

Meatless Monday is a very important day for the planet. It asks each of us to take one day to avoid meat products. Why? Eating less meat reduces demand, greenhouse gas emissions, water pollution, and our carbon footprint, all from changing one simple meal choice

Top 3 Reasons to Go Meatless Once a Week

For the Environment:
* Reduce your carbon footprint
* Minimize Water Usage
* Fight deforestation
* Reduce land degradation
* Protect wildlife and plant Biodiversity
* Reduce Greenhouse Gases


For Your Health:
* Reduce Heart Disease and Stroke
* Limit Cancer Risk
* Fight Diabetes
* Curb Obesity
* Improve The Nutritional Quality of Your Diet
* Live longer

For Your Wallet:
* Curb Healthcare Spending
* Cut Weekly Budget

Recipe from Soul Fire Farm

Soul Fire Farm is a nonprofit Afro-Indigenous-centered community farm committed to uprooting racism and seeding sovereignty in the food system. They raise and distribute life-giving food as a means to end food apartheid. They teach people to farm, educate all of us about food inequities, and empower people of color through and understanding of the food system.

During Black History Month, we want to share recipes from food justice advocates working to empower and change the food system. Let us know if you prepare this recipe. Share your images and comments. And if you know of a Food Justice Organization in the United States, let us know that too!

Source: Soul Fire Farm

Oatmeal and Fruit
Boil 2 cups of water or milk. Add ¾ cup of regular oats and ½ cup of fruit (such as chopped apple, banana, raisins, pear, or berries.) Add a pinch of salt and a teaspoon of honey or other sweeteners. Continue to cook on low until oats are soft and creamy, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. (serves 2)

Vegetable Soup 
Coat the bottom of a pot lightly with oil, then add one medium chopped onion and 2-3 cloves of chopped garlic. Similar to the onion and garlic in the oil. Add 4 cups of water or vegetable broth and bring to a boil. Add 2 cups of finely chopped vegetables (such as carrots, tomato, greens, celery, squash, and sweet potato.) Continue to cook on medium until the veggies are almost soft. Add 1 cup of cooked/canned beans (such as chickpeas, kidney beans, and black beans.) Add salt, pepper, and herbs to taste (such as oregano, thyme, and basil.) If you did not use broth, mash up a bit of the soup to give the liquid some texture. (serves 4)

Omelette with Toast
Coat the bottom of a skillet lightly with oil and heat it up until water sizzles when dropped on the surface. Crack two eggs into a bowl and beat well. Pour the eggs into the hot oil. Cover the top of the egg with ⅓ cup total of finely chopped onion, spinach (or other green), tomato, and pepper. Add grated cheese as well, if you choose. Use a spatula to fold the egg in half. Flip as needed to cook on both sides. Serve with toast. (serves 1)

Veggie and Fruit w/ Dip 
Mix ½ cup peanut butter and two tablespoons of honey in a bowl. Slice one apple, one carrot, and one celery stalk. Dip the fruits and veggies in the peanut butter mixture and enjoy. (serves 2)

Black History Month

It’s Black History Month, and we’re taking this opportunity to learn and share more about Black History in relation to food, farming, and food justice.

Black History Month originally started as a way to educate students and young people about Black and African-Americans’ contributions, triumphs, and struggles, and it has continued to be a time for commemorating and recognizing their integral role in our history and culture. Their stories are a critical part of our history here in Southern California. Food Finders is always looking for ways to educate and inform people on Food Waste, Food Justice, and the diverse culture that surrounds us–including the many people we serve 365 days a year!

Many significant Black figures have shaped our agriculture system and spearheaded the fight for food justice. We hope that you enjoy this recipe and you take the time to learn more about #MeatlessMonday, #BlackHistoryMonth, and #SoulFireFarm