4 Ways To Be Ready For SB 1383

It’s almost here, the anticipated January 2022 kick off of the “all hands on deck” aspect of the organic recycling mandate, SB 1383. California will begin enforcing the donation, recycling and otherwise diversion from landfills of organic (much of which is food) waste.

As a food recovery nonprofit we’ll be focusing on the food aspect rather than the sticks and leaves part, and there’s much you can do, as a resident and as a business, to ensure your bins are divested of the usual food scraps and leftovers.

Let’s start with the most obvious, which is, use those edible parts up! The farm to table movement has taught us not just to eat locally, but hopefully

to clean your plate, and we mean that in the less literal sense, whether you’re making soup from bones or peels, squirreling away seeds to plant in a garden, or simply finding recipes that inspire using every last bit of an ingredient.

Next, and easy but not always done properly, is food storage. How often do you have every intention of cooking something but life shifts, and you find a sad head of cauliflower at the back of the fridge two weeks later or those leftover chicken wings protesting in silence, ignored and forgotten? It happens. But if you choose the right storage container, you can at least give those items a fighting chance to last another day or two longer than they would normally.

The largest amount of food waste happens at the consumer level, this we know. But, the newer options for home composting are coming fast and furious, and it’s possible that the compost bin will become as common on countertops as the toaster oven or coffeemaker. Yes, you have to find a place to put the table scraps after they sit in your kitchen composter, but the plan is for waste haulers to offer organic bins to help you dispose of it easily. For now, it’s no harder to toss strawberry tops and eggshells into a shiny thingy on your counter than on your floor. And if you do take it full circle, the outdoor compost receptacles are easily had and pretty simple to use.

Finally, and this especially goes for businesses, you can always donate what you can’t use! We’re talking safely edible items, of course. Did you buy too many bags of burger buns, have some canned goods about to expire that you can’t use, prep a pan of rice that went unserved? It can be donated to a nonprofit that feeds people rather than tossed. Food Finders serves more than 400 pantries, shelters, missions, and centers that can use the food that others can’t, and with 1 in 6 people experiencing hunger regularly, donations are highly encouraged.

Need more info? Be sure to contact us directly, 562-283-1400.

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A Trifecta of Giving With Food Finders

A donor of ours recently shared that he loves supporting Food Finders, which he started doing through his company giving campaign, then began volunteering as a food rescuer where he sees the program benefits firsthand. “It’s like I’m helping 3 organizations at once–Food Finders, the recipient, and the food donor.” It’s a wonderful testament on how to have a huge impact with a single focus.

We call it the Trifecta of Giving.

Food Finders’ mission is two-fold, which is to help reduce hunger and help the environment by rescuing food and reducing food waste. We tend to emphasize the former more than the latter in our messages and outcomes, but let’s look at some real and impactful numbers overall.

Food Finders provides an average of 30,000 meals worth of food…DAILY! Hard to imagine, but given that millions of pounds of fresh produce, dairy products, meats, prepared foods, baked goods, and nonperishables are donated annually, it adds up quickly, and the more donors realize we’re a resource, the more it adds up. Your donation, be it money or food or volunteer time, helps us run a well-oiled nonprofit and ensure we connect all the dots—or food–efficiently. So, you’re already a part of a bigger picture just by helping Food Finders.

Which leads us to the second arm of the trifecta — our partner agencies. Right now, we serve more than 550 nonprofit partners that are spread across four Southern California counties. That’s a huge reach. This includes large missions that feed hundreds of people daily down to small recovery homes that feed roughly a dozen people. When volunteers come and pack a few dozen food boxes or rescue a hundred pounds of fresh food, dozens of people in need can eat as a result, all in exchange for an hour or two of time. It also means those agencies providing the food directly can save some of their hard-earned funding to use on other services or spread their dollar farther. How rewarding is that?

When it comes to helping our more than 700 food donors, we’re more in demand now than ever. Many businesses are having to reduce their organic waste by 75%, per new state mandates. Restaurants, grocers, food distribution centers, and even a corporate kitchens, schools and hospitals must ensure that excess food is diverted, meaning composted, converted to animal feed, or our favorite, donated to feed people, because starting January, fines will be enforced. Many businesses are already a step-ahead and have been donating food overages for years. Saving money for our food donors so they can do the right thing is a no-brainer, and the third arm of our trifecta.

Sounds like a win-win-win so far!

But, wait, there’s more. Our environment appreciates your support as well. Imagine what it means when 16 million pounds of wholesome food is diverted from landfills? Thankfully, someone already calculated for us. It means 8.6 million pounds of Co2e are eliminated. It also equates to 7,296,000,000 (that’s not a typo) gallons of water saved. Food takes a lot of water to grow, plus labor and transportation to get it to market. You’re essentially helping our planet when you support Food Finders.

One final bonus—supporting our organization, you are helping YOU. Sharing a kindness keeps us well mentally and all around.

So, on behalf of everyone we serve, thank you for choosing to support Food Finders. Be well.

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On Being Grateful

My son has been learning Latin on Babbel, a language app, and sometimes we discuss the roots of various words, since he also took French, and I took Spanish decades earlier. It’s fun to compare similarities in the languages. Since we are approaching the time of year when the word ‘Grateful’ is foremost on our minds, not to mention in stores teeming with Thanksgiving holiday décor, I became curious of its origin.

Grateful, it turns out, is rooted in the Latin word ‘gratus’ which originally meant pleasing or agreeable. What’s more, the word was at its highest usage back in 1800. From there its usage went steadily downhill. Around 1920 it started a resurgence, and in the past twenty years or so, ‘grateful’ has been on a steady upswing and is nearly back to the same high level of usage as in 1800. Humanity is #bringinggratefulback.

Despite the past couple of harrowing years that have included a pandemic, political upheaval, and rising mental health concerns, we’re frequently reminded to be grateful either via a myriad of articles, TEDTalks, and personal growth podcasts, or like when you notice gas prices rising but realize your commute was cut in half now that you work from home part of the week. Being reminded is good, because by noting what we’re grateful for we generate good vibes, a shift in our outlook, and potentially even more things to be grateful for. Kristi Nelson, we hear you.

At Food Finders we also hear words of thanks and gratefulness, and it’s rewarding to know people appreciate what we do as an organization. But what we love hearing even more is why they are grateful. The obvious answer is because they didn’t go hungry. Pressing further, we learn it’s much more. It might be because they are a student who could better focus on their studies that will ultimately help them attain a decent salary. Maybe they’re a single mother who could rest easy knowing her rent will be paid now that her food bill is less of an issue. It’s also the senior on a limited income who could live more comfortably because he didn’t have to choose between buying medication or food. There are countless benefits in the form of why they are grateful.

Our new campaign and mantra “more than just food” spotlights these benefits. We want to remind not just ourselves, but all of you who support us, we’re more to our recipients than a meal or a full pantry shelf. As a food rescue organization, we’re helping provide a sense of security, an opportunity for togetherness, and lasting well-being. Particularly during the holidays when food is a focal point of every event and celebration, we recognize that providing something as simple as a frozen turkey can make the difference between a jumble of stress and a joyful memory.

Writer Naomi Williams made a wonderful observation when she said, “It’s impossible to feel grateful and depressed in the same moment.” By providing food, we’re providing something that can make all the difference in people’s lives, one moment at a time. Maybe even longer.

You can help us continue providing more than just food by donating today.

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Not Just Happy Holidays, Happy Memories

We’re approaching the time of year so many people see as the break in a long string of busy months and repeated tasks that constitute everyday life. The holidays—no matter your practice, beliefs, or customs, are a time to celebrate and convene with family and friends, if only for a day or two.

At places like Food Finders, it’s the busiest time of year, with food distributions often doubling and partners asking for specialty items or hoping for extra food like turkeys and other traditional fare to give to individuals and families who, like everyone else, look forward to a special meal they can share with those they love.

Beyond food, we know we’re providing things like hope, security, stability, and even joy. What do you think of when you think of holidays? Do you have a favorite food you look forward to eating in front of the fireplace? You might host a potluck at work or bake for friends? Maybe you visit family that you live away from or take a special trip that holds meaning for just that time of year.

It’s not just about food, but about memories.

Like, remember the time you made your first turkey and how great it turned out? How your grandpa told the best jokes whenever he drank a little eggnog? Or what about the time you had tacos instead of a traditional meal and it was the best holiday dinner you’d ever had because of who you shared it with?

We know that food is the gateway to so many holiday highlights, albeit a huge part, and can mean the difference between a wonderful experience and a woeful one. Which is why we make the extra effort to plan, produce and provide so much during this time of year. Being a resource that can make the difference between a forgettable and a memorable holiday is extra meaningful, and hearing stories of gratitude make it that much more rewarding.

We hope you’ll play a part in this year’s holiday season that involves giving back, whether it’s food or something equally important. To learn more about what Food Finders is doing, see our events page.

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Food Finders van in front of food donor

A Day In the Life of Food Finders

What happens when a grocery store has 5 cases of produce, a day’s leftover bread from the bakery, and a pallet of coffee, all past their sell dates? Or when a restaurant finds they must offload their perishable goods prior to shutting down their business? Although food waste has finally leveled off, many businesses still find themselves with excess, edible food.

Food Finders continually answers the calls of restaurants, grocers and others who find themselves in need of a resource to donate food rather than carelessly and irresponsibly tossing it in the trash. At first glance, the solution may seem simple—send a driver over to pick up the food—problem solved!

But food rescue and recovery is a little more involved than that. A typical food bank may accept donations dropped at their door. Food Finders takes it a few steps further. All new donation requests are funneled through Chris Wong, Food Donor Acquisitions Manager, and are first qualified. How much food is it? What type? How is it packed, stored, contained? Will there be a loading area for pick up? Once some of the basics are determined, Chris can assign a staff driver to large donations, or volunteers are connected who can manage smaller donations.

That food does not find its way back to Food Finders’ warehouse. Instead, it’s delivered immediately within a close distance. The community benefits from its local donors, and the donor feels good about helping the local community. They can also receive a tax write-off.

The request gets relayed from Acquisitions to the Agency Coordination staff who are responsible for matching the donation to a partner recipient agency. No refrigeration on-site? Then you must have a program that distributes immediately or same-day. Each agency is vetted to determine if they can accept the food based on their location, volume of need and type of food requested, and program schedule.

From there, volunteers or staff drivers are set to pick up. Some donations occur weekly or daily. Others are occasional. The Food Finders app is downloadable, and volunteers are encouraged to use this app to remotely access available food donations. The app will indicate approximately how much food is available, the location of the donor, who to contact, and where the food is assigned for distribution. Maps with directions are provided along with any special instructions.

This process happens hundreds of times weekly.

Sounds like a well-oiled machine? It is!  And after 32 years of running its food rescue program, Food Finders is still finding ways to streamline the process. Plus, we are always adding to our network of donors and volunteer base. If you’d like to make a donation or want to share about or get involved in our program, see www.foodfinders.org. We’d love to have your join us in reducing hunger and food waste!

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Support Food Finders and Give #MoreThanJustFood

Your support of Food Finders provides more than just food- it provides time spent cooking together, reconnecting with friends or family, creating a long-lasting memory, tradition and much more. Make a donation this December and provide someone in need with #MoreThanJustFood.