looking back to look ahead blogClimate

Looking Back to Look Ahead: An Overview of 2022

Overview

With 2023 well underway, it is important to take some time to reflect on last year in order to plan for this one. Taking a moment to reflect is key to setting up goals that align with your values, are efficient, effective, and achievable, and push you out of your comfort zone. 

In this article, I will:

  • discuss Food Finders’ impact in 2022,
  • reflect on the implementation of SB 1383, and 
  • provide three key ideas that Food Finders must keep in mind for the new year.

Food Finders: Statistics in 2022

In 2022, Food Finders continued its mission of reducing food waste by reallocating edible surplus to those who are food insecure throughout Southern California. The organization rescued 13,386,801 pounds of food and provided 11,155,668 meals. Through their rescues, Food Finders diverted 7,269,033 million pounds of C02 emissions and saved 6,104,381,256 gallons of water. Food Finders’ mission is to simultaneously reduce food waste and food insecurity through strategic surplus diversion and reallocation. These environmentally conscious goals mitigate the effects of climate change and provide much needed food. Finding methods that solve multiple problems at once is the kind of thinking that guides us closer to a sustainable future.

Greenhouse gas emissions such as methane is released from landfills in huge quantities that pose a threat to human health, NPR.

SB 1383: California’s Law to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions

On September 19, 2016, Governor Jerry Brown signed SB 1383 into law which established a statewide initiative to reduce emissions produced by short-lived climate pollutants (SLCP). The targets aim to reduce edible food and organic waste disposal by 75% by 2025, and to rescue at least 20% of disposed edible food to be allocated for human consumption by 2025. The law actually expands upon AB 341 (Mandatory Commercial Recycling) and AB 1826 (Mandatory Commercial Organics) which focused on commercial waste diversion and recycling. SB 1383, on the other hand, applies similar guidelines to residents and property managers and owners. Under the bill—which went into effect on January 1, 2022—jurisdictions are required to provide “organic waste collection services to all single-family and multifamily residences.”

The efforts to reduce food waste reflect the increasing threat greenhouse gases pose for Californians, especially to those with health conditions. In California, organic waste left in landfills release 20% of all methane, a gas that is a “climate super pollutant 84 times more potent than carbon dioxide.” According to the EPA, reducing the presence of food and organic waste in landfills in the United States helps reduce climate change since more than 15% of methane emissions caused by humans come from municipal solid waste landfills. In 2019, those landfills emitted almost 100 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent of methane. California’s dumps in landfills are 50% food scraps, yard trimmings, and cardboard which reflects the need for more conscious efforts when throwing away trash. 

California has specific targets that need to be met in order to reach the goals set by SB 1383, Waste Dive.

SB 1383: Changes, Progress, and What’s Next

According to Waste Dive, California estimates that it will need to prevent 27 million tons of organic waste from ending up in landfills annually by 2025. Unfortunately, 18 million tons of the waste is not “eligible for edible food recovery.” One challenge that companies are facing with implementation lies in the composting infrastructure and equipment to meet the requirements. Some owners have resorted to either selling their businesses to larger competitors or finding new investors.

One major effect that has threatened the timeline is the COVID-19 pandemic. The start of the pandemic impacted the 2020 goals and now California is under pressure to “make up for lost time.” On September 8, 2022, the Hearing on Organic Waste Recycling was held during which Shereen D’Souza, CalEPA’s deputy secretary for climate policy and intergovernmental relations, stated that “it makes sense that the 2020 diversion rates required in 1383 were not met” since the regulations of SB 1383 only became enforceable in 2022. Despite these setbacks, D’Souza concluded that “local jurisdictions are making a lot of progress” since January of last year.

Although the law was passed in 2016, SB 1383 regulations were only enforced in 2022, CalCities.

The most notable changes have been the arrival of waste bins for residents to use. CalRecycle believes that most jurisdictions have adopted the “standard” model or the three-bin system which might be the case since the law’s regulations make “three carts the smoothest path to compliance.” Overall, it is still too early to determine the total effects of SB 1383’s implementation. The Little Hoover Commission, an independent state oversight agency, is currently conducting a study that will “assess how California’s organics recycling law is implemented, examine what impact it has on the state’s environmental goals, and provide recommendations to the Governor and Legislature for any changes.” 

Three Key Areas for Food Finders

As Food Finders’ Community Outreach and Advocacy Intern, I have been tasked with reaching out to different organizations in the industry to understand what their goals are and how they became involved in policy and advocacy work. Over the past few months, I have met with several local and out-of-state organizations who are focused on ending food insecurity, food waste, or like Food Finders, work at the intersection of both issues. Each organization has provided me with insight that exposes their core values which inform their goals and plans regarding policy advocacy. From these meetings, I have compiled three major takeaways that should guide Food Finders in its development of a policy and advocacy agenda that creates lasting systemic change.

Grounding the policy work in the community 

In every single meeting I have had so far, the importance of community has been at the forefront of the conversation. The idea that policy should address the needs of a community cannot be more obvious, and yet, it is often inexplicably neglected. The community should always be involved in decision-making that affects their lives because they carry knowledge that is crucial to their own betterment and longevity. When the policy doesn’t represent the people or align with the community values and concerns, even the kindest intentions are rendered useless without consent and accordance on multiple levels.

One way to create a space for this kind of dialogue is through the inception of a community-led policy council. Oregon Food Bank, an Oregon-based organization that aims to address the root causes of hunger in order to eradicate it, created its Policy Leadership Council in 2021. The Council is composed of community members who are BIPOC, LGBT, have experienced food insecurity and “some sort of oppression” in their lives. Simply put, the Council is made of community members and the community informs the direction of their advocacy. Without input from the Council, the Board would not know how best to address the issues that impact their community. 

Taking the pulse of the community

Taking the pulse of the community regarding food insecurity and food waste is crucial before taking the next step towards policy advocacy. Since Food Finders focuses on finding food (as well as distributing, reallocating, and reducing waste), understanding how the community views the issues of food insecurity, waste, and its impact on the environment is important. Simply asking the questions of What do they know? and What do they want to know? can open up a dialogue and clear the pathway toward aligning food waste and insecurity policies with the values of the community. 

Recognizing the social issues that impact food insecurity

My third and final takeaway encompasses not just food insecurity, but what causes food insecurity. A lack of food does not equal food insecurity which is why more food (read: food waste and overproduction) is not the solution to this persistent problem. Other social circumstances that affect food insecurity are poverty or low income, lack of affordable housing, lack of access to healthcare, and systemic racism and racial discrimination. Thus, addressing the root causes of food insecurity has to be a priority in order to do more than place a band-aid on an already infected wound. Addressing issues such as homelessness, low wages, and affordable housing is what can eliminate food insecurity once and for all.

Homelessness and food insecurity

In 2022, California contributed to 30% of the country’s homeless population even though the state makes up less than 12% of the country’s total population. According to CalMatters, California’s homeless population grew by 22,000 during the pandemic. Although the state’s investment in shelters is “bearing fruit,” there still isn’t enough “permanent, affordable housing to bring people indoors for good.” On February 24, 2022, the “Homeless Count” in Long Beach determined that 1,801 people were living on the streets or other locations, 485 people were found living in cars, vans, and RVs, and 1,009 people were living in emergency shelters and transitional housing programs. Since 2020, there has been a 123% increase in the number of people experiencing homelessness who are sheltered in Long Beach. As we know, newly-elected Mayor Rex Richardson (who recently visited my college campus), undoubtedly has made it clear that homelessness, an issue that affects everyone and spans across the state of California, is a major priority for his administration. During his State of the City on January 10, 2023, Mayor Richardson listed homelessness and stable housing as the first key area to address in his first 100 days. 

On February 24, 2022, 69% of the total homeless population were unsheltered in Long Beach, City of Long Beach.

Another area the pandemic affected was food insecurity. The pandemic exacerbated food insecurity across the nation with the USDA reporting that 13.5 million US households were food insecure in 2021. According to the California Association of Food Banks, 8 million California residents struggle with food insecurity and in Los Angeles County, 30% of low-income residents don’t know where their next meal will come from. Homelessness and hunger are very much linked to one another since individuals experiencing homelessness are often food insecure.

Edible Food Waste: The Solution to Feeding Long Beach’s Homeless Population?

Mayor Richardson’s decision to tackle homelessness in Long Beach is commendable and shows a dedication to all the residents of the city, even the ones who are often invisible. This hefty endeavor will require cooperation and collaboration between different levels of government, various sectors and industries, and the local community. According to Stanford’s Institute for Economic Policy Research (SIEPR), accelerated production of affordable housing, reforms to the criminal justice system, and vast improvements in mental health care are crucial to address California’s homeless problem. Although hunger wasn’t explicitly identified, caring for unhoused residents includes addressing their most basic needs. 

Food waste is an issue that often flies under the radar. Consumers rarely stop and wonder what happens to those packed shelves and towering fruit displays when the store closes. In reality, 30% of the food in American grocery stores is thrown away while a significant amount of food doesn’t even make it to shelves due to cosmetic “imperfections.” Food Finders already works hard to intercept food destined for the landfills so that perfectly edible food can be enjoyed by those who need it throughout Southern California. The bottom line is that there is enough food out there. SB 1383 requires that at least 20% of edible food is recovered for human consumption by 2025, which will result in a “boom” in rescued food. It might be worth noting for Mayor Richardson’s administration that when they are searching for a way to feed the city’s unhoused residents, the food might already be there.

What Can You Do To Help?

Food Finders works daily to change how edible food waste is distributed to eliminate hunger and food insecurity. If you would like more information, please visit our website, volunteer, or support our mission to eliminate hunger and food waste by making a donation today.

#sb1383 #foodwaste #climatechange #foodinsecurity #homelessness #longbeach

Nickee O’Bryant is the Community Outreach and Advocacy Intern at Food Finders. She is a senior at California State University, Long Beach and is studying International Studies and French and Francophone Studies. Through monthly blog posts, Nickee documents her journey as she learns more about food insecurity, food waste, and how they are interconnected.

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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

resources_403x403_grain

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

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Food Waste

Stopping Food Waste in Your Home

As a food rescue organization, Food Finders, Inc. is always searching for tools and tips to help make people aware of the high costs of wasting food. Today we discovered a wonderful article on building a “Sustainable Pantry.” Like most things at home, it’s about organizing things so that they are accessible and easy to find, but with food, we must make sure that good food doesn’t go to waste because we forgot about it before going bad. We hate that!! Below are some very useful tools to start the new year off right: organize pantries, refrigerators and your counter space so that you do not waste food.

Organizing your fridge prevents food waste

Building a Sustainable Pantry

Like many of us, you may have found your routine changing with news of the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic, whether you’re working remotely or keeping more supplies around for a possible extended stay at home. In stressful times, we usually look to food as a source of comfort. That doesn’t have to change if you follow a few guidelines and do as best you can to plan ahead. (Experts agree that it’s always a good idea for everyone to have 2-4 weeks of food on hand if budgets and space permit.)

Here are some smart and easy-to-follow tricks we’ve found for stocking up responsibly without adding to your stress.

Here’s our handy printable checklist

Source: Misfits Markets

Take stock of what you’ve got
Before you shop, do a simple pantry check and inventory what you already have. Move items that have the most recent expiration dates to the front of your pantry. Just like the FIFO (first in, first out) method for the fridge, the same rules can apply for shelf-stable items. You’ll want to eat up nearly-expired food first and plan to restock.

Buy what you like
If you’re going to have more food on hand than usual, make it stuff that you and your household already eat. If that means an abundance of pasta or soup mix—great! Keep doing what you’re doing. It’s a good idea to have both favorite snacks and nutrient-rich crowd-pleasers on hand, so don’t be tempted by labels with years-long expiration dates if it’s not something you normally eat. If by chance you don’t end up having to rely on your pantry of food, unfamiliar foods will continue to go to waste and could be better used by others who like them.

Start with non-perishables
Anything that can live in your pantry for weeks and months at a time is good to have on hand. The following items have long shelf lives with extended expiration dates. As long as you have a few on hand, you can make any meal in a pinch without sacrificing taste or nutrition:

  • Rice: A mix of short and long grain, plus varieties like risotto, can take on basically any flavor profile.
  • Dry pasta: Get long noodles as well as shorter ones like penne or bowtie so you’ve got a bit of variety on hand. If you’re looking into pasta mixes like mac and cheese, note whether you need milk to complete the recipe.
  • Cereal: Non-flavored versions can be added to snack mixes as well as your morning bowl.
  • Dried and canned beans: Dried tend to taste better when made at home but canned is easiest in a pinch.
  • Canned tomatoes and pasta sauce: Canned tomatoes work with a variety of cuisines from Indian and Italian to French.
  • Lentils: High-protein legumes are great for soups and salads. They’ll also keep you fuller, and longer if you need to space out your meals more than usual.
  • Nuts: Filled with protein, dried nuts are great for snacking and add flavor and crunch to salads. They can also stay fresh for up to 6 months.
  • Dried fruit: Perfect for snacking, salads, baking, or even rehydrating; try to invest in unsweetened versions as some are packed with sugar.
  • Peanut or nut butter: Good for spreading on bread as well as making energy balls.
  • Baking essentials: Just remember that flours expire too, so use the oldest ones first.
  • Dried herbs and spices: If you haven’t refreshed yours in a while, consider stocking up on new ones since flavor deteriorates with time.
  • Canned fish: Tuna is a go-to for sandwiches and for adding lean protein to salads if you need a meal in a pinch and don’t have access to an oven.
  • Stocks or broths: Vegetable, beef, and chicken broth are the base for many big-batch dishes like chili or bean soups.
  • Shelf-stable milks: Though dairy milk is occasionally found in shelf-stable packaging, here’s where the trend of plant-based milks really comes in handy. Consider keeping unsweetened, non-flavored (unless you really love it) almond, oat, coconut, or soy milk on hand.

In our Marketplace, we currently sell a number of deeply-discounted pantry and shelf-stable items such as oatmeal, dried lentils, and canned tomatoes—and even more goodies to come!—so you can fill your pantry while getting the fresh Misfits Market produce that you love.

Move onto fresh fruits and veggies
Some produce can last for weeks or months without refrigeration as long as it’s kept in a cool, dark, and dry place. We call these cellar foods. Many are hardy and starchy, so they help you make large and filling meals that can last a few days when refrigerated. Store the following items in a pantry or basement cellar if you have one:

  • Potatoes
  • Onions – just be sure to store far from other items, as the gasses they emit can cause other foods to ripen (and rot) faster
  • Hard/winter squash
  • Apples – as with onions, they also emit ethylene, a gas that speeds up spoiling so keep them separate from other veg
  • Beets – if yours come with greens, store in the fridge instead
  • Sunchokes
  • Rutabaga
  • Garlic

Other fruits and veggies do require refrigeration but can still keep for 1-3 weeks:

  • 1 week: mushrooms, strawberries, raspberries, green beans, zucchini
  • 1-2 weeks: brassica (cauliflower and broccoli), lettuce and leafy greens, celery, bell peppers, eggplant, blueberries, cucumbers
  • 3-4 weeks: citrus like lemons, limes, oranges, and grapefruit, apples (yep, we said the cellar but they will last longer in the fridge if you have room), carrots

Store fruits and veggies in the fridge with FIFO in mind: Keep the ones you need to eat first in the front of the fridge and the produce with a longer shelf life in the back. Always prioritize eating the most perishable fruits and veggies first or you’ll continue to create more food waste. Before eating produce that’s been in the fridge for a while, check for dark spots, mold, and mushy areas. You may be able to cut away bruised spots with no issues, but always smell the produce first—if it seems off, toss it.

Consider pickling
You can save time, money, and even save your Misfits Market produce from going to waste by pickling. Onions, cabbage, and even cherry tomatoes can be pickled and used for weeks if access to fresh produce is touch and go. 

Freeze everything else
Frozen foods you can quickly heat will always be a staple in any emergency, but you don’t need to rely solely on pre-made meals and packaged veggies. If you can spare the time, take a day or weekend to cook meals in batches, starting with your favorite meals and foods like chicken, roasted veggies, smoothie packs, meatloaf, and lasagna. Many of these meals can last 3-6 months in the freezer so you’ll have easy weeknight meals or blended drinks at the ready if you’re in a situation where you can’t make it to the store or if you’re in-between Misfits Market deliveries.

What’s more, bread, butter, and even eggs can be frozen. If you can’t fit everything you’ve bought in the fridge, take perishable items you always use and toss them in the freezer to use in a pinch. Just use them within a week after thawing.

Then, you’re ready to eat
In the event you’re holed up at home for any reason in the future, you can easily combine your shelf stable items with fresh produce as long as they’ve been stored and frozen properly. Pair fresh Misfits Market fruits and veggies with pantry items and you can still eat fresh, delicious, and nutritious meals like grain bowls, smoothies, tacos, one-pot pastas, soups, chilis, fried rice, and even ramen. Canned tomatoes can be paired with just about any fresh veg. Toss canned beans into salads and on top of baked potatoes. Add steamed fresh veggies and a hard boiled to instant ramen for a filling, nearly no-cook meal.

Save everything
Following the sage advice of Atlantic staff writer Amanda Mull, don’t toss anything that could be repurposed for another meal or to flavor multiple dishes.

  • Parmesan rinds add flavor to soups and homemade tomato sauces—combine canned tomatoes with tomato paste, garlic, fresh basil, salt, pepper, and a Parmesan rind. Remove the rind before serving and you have a fragrant and flavorful homemade sauce to pair with a box of pasta.
  • Veggie scraps, tips, ends, and peels can be saved and used to make a flavorful homemade stock, which can quickly become the base for homemade soups with a can of beans or chickpeas.
  • Leftover bones from whatever meat or poultry you cook can be saved to make a beef or poultry broth.
  • Even pickle juice from store bought (or homemade!) pickles can be used in place of vinegar in things like gazpacho, to brine other veggies and eggs, and even added to hummus and other dips for a tangy kick.

Got a tip for saving food indefinitely or a question about the best way to stock your pantry? Let us know in a comment below!

#foodwaste #foodfindersin #sustainable pantry #misfitsmarket #foodstorage

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Climate

Why Meatless Mondays?

Join Food Finders in our weekly #MeatlessMonday posts and recipes. Taking one day a week to eat “meatless” is of the utmost importance, especially in the United States, as we consume much more animal products than the rest of the world. Below are some of the reasons that we spotlight these recipes:

  • Meatless Monday is of utmost importance, especially in the United States, as we consume much more animal products than the rest of the world.
  • The meat industry uses vast amounts of our finite fossil fuels and water and lots of grain to feed livestock, which is extremely inefficient. Why not use those resources to feed people more directly?
  • About 1,850 gallons of water is needed to produce a singular pound of beef, comparable to only 39 gallons of water per pound of vegetables. A vegetarian diet alone could dramatically reduce water consumption by 58% per person!
  • Meat production also is a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, which has proven to correlate to the climate change crisis. 
  • Some benefits of eating plant-based once a week include:
    • Save 133 gallons of water with each meatless meal!
    • Reduce your carbon footprint by 8 pounds each Meatless Monday you participate in
    • If you commit to participating in Meatless Monday every Monday, that is equivalent to skipping one serving of beef for a year, would save the same amount of emissions as driving 348 miles in a car.

Why Meatless Monday? Some avoid meat products for environmental reasons, or for their love of animals, and ethically oppose consuming animal products. Others go meatless to live longer, healthier lives. A lot of scientific research points to significant health benefits of eating vegetarian, and even the federal government recommends consuming most of our calories from grain products, vegetables, and fruit. An estimated 70 percent of all diseases are related to diet, and that’s just one benefit of a meatless diet. 

Ward Off Disease

Vegetarian diets are shown to have more health benefits than the average American’s diet. Eating meatless can help treat and prevent heart disease and reduce the risk of certain cancers. A low-fat vegetarian diet is a major way to prevent the progression of coronary artery disease, and can help prevent it entirely. Cardiovascular disease kills 1 million Americans annually and is the leading cause of death in the United States.

To Help Reduce Pollution

The meat industry has huge, devastating effects on our environment. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), chemical waste and animal waste runoff from factory farms is responsible for 173,000 miles of polluted rivers and streams. This runoff flowing into farmland is one of the greatest threats to water quality today. Agricultural activities that cause pollution include confined animal facilities, plowing, pesticide spraying, irrigation, fertilizing and harvesting.

Create a Plate Full of Color

Disease-fighting phytochemicals give fruits and vegetables their rich, varied hues. They come in two main classes: carotenoids and anthocyanins. Carotenoids include rich yellow and orange fruits: carrots, oranges, sweet potatoes, mangoes, pumpkins, corn. Leafy greens are also full of carotenoids, owing their color to chlorophyll. Anthocyanins cover all red, blue, and purple fruits and vegetables: plums, cherries, red bell peppers. Planning meals and rotation by color will help boost your immunity and prevent a range of diseases. 

Help End World Hunger

On Average, 40% of grain worldwide is fed to animals, in wealthier countries grain used for feed is around 70%. If these crops were used to feed people rather than animals, roughly 70% more food would be added to the world’s supply. This would be enough to feed 4 billion additional people, and the sudden surplus of this food alone would feed over half the Earth’s population; let alone the 795 million who face hunger every day.

Finding good-for-you and great-tasting vegetarian foods is almost effortless nowadays. Walking down the aisles at a supermarket or down the street during lunch, vegetarian options are abundant. The internet, or a local bookstore are also a great resource for delicious at-home recipes. Even eating out, including fast-food, it’s not difficult to find vegetarian options. Their menus usually will now include healthful salad, sandwiches, and entrees on their menus. So instead of asking ‘Why Meatless Mondays?’, instead ask why not.


Asaph. (2022, May 18). Why Be a Vegetarian? Consider Your Health. Vegetarian Times. Retrieved January 9, 2023.

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Food Waste

Food Inflation vs. Food Insecurity: How Inflation Has Impacted Food Insecurity Since the Start of the COVID-19 Pandemic

Overview

In the midst of the holiday season, one thing is on everyone’s mind: food. But whether food is easily accessible and affordable is another story and gives way to the different, less joyful word on everyone’s minds: inflation.

To understand the impact of inflation on current food prices in the United States, I will explore the following areas:

  • current causes of food inflation in the US,
  • the rise of food prices and impact on low-income households, and 
  • food insecurity during the holidays.
Food inflation has been on the rise especially since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Current Causes of Food Inflation in the US

It is important to put the current rates of inflation into context. In the United States, the price of food began to increase in mid-2021 and coincided with higher distribution costs, labor shortages, and commodity price increases in the sector. Many farmers and manufacturers saw disruptions in the supply chain which led them to shut down temporarily or permanently. Labor shortages and higher wages were reflected in the raised menu prices for customers. At the same time, global food prices were also increasing but the start of the war in Ukraine in early 2022 exacerbated these trends. Evidently, the war has put significant pressure on global food inflation which began to increase first in developing countries and then in developed ones.

COVID-19 Pandemic 

Unfortunately (but not surprisingly), the COVID-19 pandemic continues to mark our lives in numerous ways which includes inflation. Although, a global pandemic like this one is rare, this means that there is less information for policymakers to rely on regarding decision-making protocol during periods of emergency. According to a White House statement on prices during the pandemic, three temporary factors have contributed primarily to the increase in inflation: 

  1. base effects,
  2. supply chain disruptions and misalignments, and
  3. pent-up demand. 

Base effects occur when “the base, or initial month, of a growth rate is unusually low or high.” Supply chain disruptions arise when the cost of production increases and businesses decide to pass on higher prices to consumers. Finally, pent-up demand during the pandemic has led to a surge in consumers eating out at restaurants. But as Americans find less food options available compared to pre-pandemic levels, restaurant prices may increase as a result. Optimistically, the authors believe that these factors will be “transitory,” fade over time, and mimic America’s behavior following past wars and pandemics. But they do warn that history is “not a perfect guide” either.

Several sectors have experienced product shortages during the pandemic, Econofact.

Future Outlook on Food Inflation

While history may not be able to predict our future exactly, we have tools today to get a picture of what is likely to come. According to the USDA, food prices, food-at-home prices, and food-away-from-home prices are expected to “grow more slowly in 2023 than in 2022” but will remain above “historical average rates.” According to President Joe Biden’s recent statement on Personal Consumption Expenditures in October, inflation moderated and the nation is on their way to “more steady, stable economic growth” and food inflation has also slowed.

“How people believe prices are going to behave in the future plays an important role because inflation expectations can sometimes become self-fulfilling.”

– Alberto Cavallo, Associate Professor Harvard Business School

The Impact of Rising Food Prices on Consumers and Low-income Households

The rise in food prices is reflected in the changing consumer habits. According to CNN, more consumers are searching for deals, switching to off-brand choices, and eating at less pricey restaurants like IHOP and Applebee’s. Others have started shopping at cheaper grocers and buying store-bought items instead of making them at home. Most worryingly, one respondent stated that once she can afford it, she will “go back to buying more fruits and veggies.” In Los Angeles County, 12.1% of adults reported consuming five or more servings of fruits and vegetables the previous day and the rate rose with education and income. It is not difficult to understand how income can affect buying habits. Increasing food prices do not affect everyone equally. According to Rory Smead, an associate professor at Northeastern, those in the “middle class and reasonably comfortable” will not feel the impacts as much as those “working in the margins.” So with the rise in food inflation and daily fruit and vegetable consumption rates already fairly low at least in Los Angeles, a county with a high rate of food insecurity, we should be very concerned about how rising prices are affecting the long term health of low-income households.

Rates of different age groups in fruit and vegetable consumption in Los Angeles, Dignity Health St. Mary Medical Center, p. 94

COVID-19 Pandemic and Food Insecurity

According to the White House National Strategy on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health, the COVID-19 pandemic “exacerbated food insecurity, diet-related diseases, and health disparities” and disrupted a decade-long downward trend in food insecure households with children (p. 6). In 2021, the USDA reported that 13.5 million (10.2%) US households were food insecure at some point during the year while 8.4 million (6.4%) US households reported low food security. In California, 8 million residents struggle with food insecurity and in Los Angeles County, 30% of low-income residents don’t know where their next meal will come from. NYU also found that the pandemic increased food insecurity especially among families with children and that school closures made it more difficult for children to access meals through the National School Lunch program.

National School Lunch Program lunches served 1971-2021, USDA

Food Insecurity During the Holidays

The holiday season can be the busiest times of year for food banks and with the impact of the pandemic and the conflict in Ukraine on inflation and food prices, food-insecure households and individuals are even more vulnerable during this time of year. Additionally, as schools close for the winter break, students who benefit from the National School Lunch Program temporarily lose access to a source of food. 

As we continue to ease the pandemic restrictions on everyday life, economic instability and uncertainty remain. That is why the White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health is so important. In its first pillar, The National Strategy recognizes the need for economic security and providing Americans and their families with more income through expanding the Child Tax Credit, the Earned Income Tax Credit, and the minimum wage.

In the meantime, families need to eat now which is what many organizations and groups are focused on throughout the country year-round.

Food Finders

Food Finders, anticipating the increased need during the holidays, holds an annual Holiday Food Drive to collect food for their non-profit partners. It begins October 1st through December 31st. Throughout November, Food Finders held a Turkey Drive and during their Holiday Pack and Sort event on November 19th and 20th, the organization distributed 2,322 food boxes for agencies to provide for families and assembled a total of 4,231 boxes. They also distributed 2,600 turkeys during the event and provided an additional 200 turkeys and 100 hams during the month of December.

What Can You Do To Help?

Food Finders works daily to change how food waste is distributed to eliminate hunger and food insecurity. If you would like more information, please visit our website, volunteer, or support our mission to eliminate hunger and food waste by making a donation today.

#inflation #hunger #foodprices #pandemic #covid19 #foodinsecurity

Nickee O’Bryant is the Community Outreach and Advocacy Intern at Food Finders. She is a senior at California State University, Long Beach and is studying International Studies and French and Francophone Studies. Through monthly blog posts, Nickee documents her journey as she learns more about food insecurity, food waste, and how they are interconnected.

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Climate

Best Stuffing Recipe

#MeatlessMondays

Happy Thanksgiving! This classic stuffing recipe is the BEST Thanksgiving side dish! Leeks, celery, and fresh herbs fill it with rich, savory flavor.

Serves: 8

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 small loaf (1 pound) day-old crusty sourdough bread, (not sandwich bread)
  • ½ cup salted butter or vegan butter
  • 2 leeks, halved, thinly sliced, and rinsed well (2 cups)
  • 4 celery stalks, diced (1¾ cups)
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • ¾ teaspoon sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup chopped sage
  • Heaping ¼ cup chopped parsley
  • 1 teaspoon chopped rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 1½ to 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

Cooking Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F and grease an 8×11 or 9×13-inch baking dish.
  2. Tear the bread into 1-inch pieces and place in a very large bowl.
  3. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the leeks, celery, garlic, salt, and pepper, and sauté for 5 minutes, turning the heat to low halfway through. Pour the leek mixture over the bread and sprinkle with the sage, parsley, rosemary, and thyme. Use your hands to toss until coated. Pour 1½ cups of the broth evenly over the stuffing and toss to coat. Add the eggs and toss again. The bread should feel pretty wet. If it’s still a bit dry, mix in the remaining ½ cup of broth. The amount you use will depend on how dense and dry your bread was.
  4. Transfer the mixture to the baking dish. If making ahead, stop here, cover the dish with foil, and store in the refrigerator until ready to bake.
  5. When ready to bake, drizzle the olive oil on top and bake, covered, for 30 minutes. If the stuffing is still pretty wet, uncover the dish and bake for 5 to 10 more minutes to crisp the top a bit.

Why Meatless Monday?

  • Meatless Monday is of utmost importance, especially in the United States, as we consume much more animal products than the rest of the world.
  • The meat industry uses vast amounts of our finite fossil fuels and water and lots of grain to feed livestock, which is extremely inefficient. Why not use those resources to feed people more directly?
  • About 1,850 gallons of water is needed to produce a singular pound of beef, comparable to only 39 gallons of water per pound of vegetables. A vegetarian diet alone could dramatically reduce water consumption by 58% per person!
  • Meat production also is a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, which has proven to correlate to the climate change crisis. 
  • Some benefits of eating plant-based once a week include:
    • Save 133 gallons of water with each meatless meal!
    • Reduce your carbon footprint by 8 pounds each Meatless Monday you participate in
    • If you commit to participating in Meatless Monday every Monday, that is equivalent to skipping one serving of beef for a year, would save the same amount of emissions as driving 348 miles in a car.

If you have a recipe you would like to share with us for #meatlessmondays, please email christian.bearden100@gmail.com. If you would like to make an impact on reducing food waste and hunger help us grow our food rescue operations: Donate

#meatlessmonday #foodfindersinc  #FoodRescue #reducehunger #improvenutrition #helpfoodinsecurecommunities #HelpEndHunger #Volunteer #Charity #fightinghunger #rescuingfood #Donate #makeanimpact

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Climate

Tips for Reducing Your Food Waste This Thanksgiving

#WhyWasteFoodWednesday

#WhyWasteFoodWednesday is a call to action to take those almost-in-the-trash food items and turn them into delicious meals!

At least 1.3 billion tons of food is lost or wasted every year around the world—in fields, during transport, in storage, at restaurants, and in our homes! If each individual made a call to action to stop their own food waste–the planet benefits, we have less hunger, and your own grocery bills will go down through the savings.

UN Food & Agricultural

How to Reduce Food Waste at Thanksgiving Dinner

Food waste is a year-round concern, and the large Thanksgiving meal can present a challenge. You’re buying many more ingredients, and you’re making large-scale recipes with lots of potential leftovers. You may be preoccupied with the business of the holiday season, so keeping your food waste in mind can become a small concern. But there are easy ways to reduce food waste and, therefore your environmental impact, even around the holidays. Here are a few tips geared toward Thanksgiving dinner.

Plan How Much Food to Make

Until you know how many people you’re cooking for, you’ll be unable to plan portions accurately. Press for answers and get people to commit. Not only will this ensure you’re not overcooking, it will also benefit party planning in general.

Make an Entire Thanksgiving with Fewer Ingredients 

The variety of dishes is a key part of Thanksgiving dinners. Part of the problem is that it can mean separate lists of ingredients for every recipe. But it’s ok if there’s some overlap between your courses; it’s smart, thrifty, and eco-friendly, because it means less packaging and less of a chance that you’re going to have lots of half-used bottles and cans hanging around your fridge or pantry waiting to go bad. Even better, synchronizing ingredients and flavors can make your meal seem like a well-thought-out package and make you look like a genius menu planner. 

Use Every Ingredient Wisely

After you’ve shopped and before you reach the leftovers phase, there are ways to make smart use of the extra bits of various ingredients. A great read is a piece by Food editor Joe Yonan’s; “root-to-leaf and seed-to-stem cooking.” He shows you how to use the more expected seeds and the less expected peels of butternut squash for a crispy garnish that would work on any soup or salad. When you have peels left from an apple pie, toss them with cinnamon, sugar, and lemon juice and then bake them to make crisps. At the very least, hang on to scraps for vegetable broth. Freeze the scraps, or make the broth and then freeze that.

The same line of thought applies to whatever meat you may be serving, as well. Rendered or strained fat can be refrigerated and saved for roasting vegetables or sautéing ingredients for hash made from leftovers. Get the most out of your turkey carcass by simmering them with some aromatics for an outstanding stock to be used in future soups. Giblets included with your turkey can become part of the dressing or gravy. Extra pie crust or crust trimmings can be brushed in butter, sprinkled with cinnamon sugar, twisted into any shape you want and baked for a quick sweet treat.

How to Use and Store Leftovers

Even if you’ve calculated the exact amount for the number of people at your Thanksgiving, you’re probably going to end up with at least some leftovers. And, to many, leftovers are an important part of Thanksgiving.

To prepare, have lots of containers for packing up food on hand. Your usual glass or plastic hard-sided options are perfect. If you’re planning to send guests home with food, consider asking them to bring their own storage containers. That way, no one is scrambling when it comes time to pack up.

And be mindful of how long food is put out for. Perishable food, including turkey and many sides, can be left at room temperature for 2 hours. Even less is better, so as soon as everyone is done eating, start cleaning up, as much of a drag as it can be. Eat your refrigerated leftovers within four days. If you need to buy yourself more time, go ahead and freeze them before the four days are out, though ideally sooner for the best quality. Hand out leftovers to guests when they leave.


Krystal, B. (2022, November 10). Advice | how to reduce food waste at Thanksgiving dinner. The Washington Post. Retrieved November 14, 2022.

If you have a recipe you would like to share with us for #whywastewednesday, please email christian.bearden100@gmail.com.

If you would like to make an impact on reducing food waste and hunger help us grow our food rescue operations: Donate

#whywastewednesday  #foodfindersinc  #foodrescue #stopfoodwaste #reducehunger #improvenutrition #helpfoodinsecurecommunities #HelpEndHunger #Volunteer #Charity #fightinghunger #rescuingfood #Donate #makeanimpact

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Climate

The Best Thanksgiving Cranberry Sauce

#MeatlessMonday

Look no further for the Best Ever Cranberry Sauce! This easy and delightful recipe takes only 15 minutes to make and a handful of ingredients! Spiced with cinnamon and sweetened with orange juice, it is the best combination of sweet and tart! The perfect complement to your holiday meal! 

One Thanksgiving recipe that often seems to be overlooked is the cranberry sauce. So many people go for the canned stuff, and while it’s great in a pinch, it doesn’t even come close to homemade.

Cranberry Sauce for the Holidays

Cranberry sauce is an essential part of every holiday meal for one simple reason – it cuts through the heaviness of all the other dishes. It’s light, it’s bright, and it’s actually pretty darn healthy. Adding orange and cinnamon to cranberry sauce really gives it more depth of flavor and sweetens it just slightly. It’s still lovely and tart, but not quite so tart that you’ll be puckering your lips.

Can I Make This in Advance

You betcha! In fact, this is a great make-ahead recipe. It’s served chilled so you need to make it at least one day in advance anyways. The flavor is even better after two or three days so if you have time beforehand, consider just getting this recipe out of the way at the beginning of the week. Another note: you might want to double the recipe for plenty of leftovers!

Ingredients

  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ½ cup orange juice
  • ½ cup water
  • 12 oz fresh cranberries rinsed and picked through
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 piece of orange peel just use a potato peel or paring knife

Cranberry sauce is the perfect way to cut through the heaviness of a Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner and it adds a gorgeous pop of color and flavor to every bite. I hope you give this super easy recipe a try this holiday season!

Cooking Instructions

  1. Combine sugar, orange juice, and water in a large saucepan over medium heat. Stir to combine.
  2. Add cranberries, salt, cinnamon stick and orange peel.
  3. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring frequently.
  4. Continue cooking, for about 10 minutes, or until all or most of the cranberries have popped. I like to leave a handful of berries whole.
  5. Let cool for at least 30 minutes. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
  6. Can be made up to 3 days in advance.

Nutrition

Calories: 100kcal 

Carbohydrates: 25g

Sodium: 2mg

Potassium: 67mg

Fiber: 2g

Sugar: 21g

Vitamin A: 55IU

Vitamin C: 13.4mg

Calcium: 9mg

Iron: 0.2mg


Why Meatless Monday?

  • Meatless Monday is of utmost importance, especially in the United States, as we consume much more animal products than the rest of the world.
  • The meat industry uses vast amounts of our finite fossil fuels and water and lots of grain to feed livestock, which is extremely inefficient. Why not use those resources to feed people more directly?
  • About 1,850 gallons of water is needed to produce a singular pound of beef, comparable to only 39 gallons of water per pound of vegetables. A vegetarian diet alone could dramatically reduce water consumption by 58% per person!
  • Meat production also is a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, which has proven to correlate to the climate change crisis. 
  • Some benefits of eating plant-based once a week include:
    • Save 133 gallons of water with each meatless meal!
    • Reduce your carbon footprint by 8 pounds each Meatless Monday you participate in
    • If you commit to participating in Meatless Monday every Monday, that is equivalent to skipping one serving of beef for a year, would save the same amount of emissions as driving 348 miles in a car.

***

Timeout, T.- M. O. (2019, November 12). The best cranberry sauce: Ready in 15 minutes! Mom On Timeout. Retrieved November 14, 2022.

If you have a recipe you would like to share with us for #meatlessmondays, please email christian.bearden100@gmail.com.

If you would like to make an impact on reducing food waste and hunger help us grow our food rescue operations: Donate #meatlessmonday #foodfindersinc  #FoodRescue #reducehunger #improvenutrition #helpfoodinsecurecommunities #HelpEndHunger #Volunteer #Charity #fightinghunger #rescuingfood #Donate #makeanimpact

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Climate

Creamy Goat Cheese Polenta with Ratatouille

#MeatlessMondays

Classic French ratatouille sounds fancy, but is actually a simple, lovely way of cooking vegetables that are all in season at the same time together in a single plan. Ratatouille together with creamy polenta make a dinner that’s at once hearty and warming, fresh and oh-so-flavorful.

“Ratatouille—a classic combination of late summer vegetables, cooked to tender perfection—is an ideal partner for creamy goat cheese polenta. Together, they’re the vegetarian dinner of your dreams!”

The Modern Proper

Serves: 6 minutes

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Calories: 513

Ratatouille

Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, halved
  • 1 small globe eggplant, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
  • 1 medium zucchini, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
  • 1 medium yellow squash, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
  • 1 yellow, red, or orange bell pepper cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
  • 4 Roma tomatoes, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
  • 1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher sea salt
  • Freshly cracked black pepper
  • 5 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves removed

Polenta

Ingredients

  • 6 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • 2 cups whole milk, plus more as needed
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups stone-ground polenta or yellow cornmeal
  • 8 ounces goat cheese
  • 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
  • 10 to 12 fresh basil leaves, minced

Cooking Instructions

  1. Make the ratatouille. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Grease an 8 x 8-inch baking dish with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and rub the cut sides of the garlic clove all over the bottom and sides. Discard the garlic clove.
  2. On a clean work surface, spread out the eggplant, zucchini, squash, bell pepper, tomato, and onion. Drizzle them with the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil and sprinkle with the garlic powder, salt, and black pepper to taste. Toss to coat well.
  3. Transfer the veggies to the prepared baking dish.. Scatter on the thyme leaves.
  4. Cover. and bake for 20 minutes, then uncover and continue baking until the vegetables are tender, about 25 more minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, make the polenta. In a medium pan, combine the stock, milk, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to medium and slowly whisk in the polenta.
  6. Cook, stirring often, until the polenta begins to pull away from the sides of the pan, about 30 minutes.
  7. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in 6 ounces of the goat cheese. If you’d like the polenta a bit thinner, stir in a bit more milk.
  8. To serve, divide the polenta evenly among six bowls and spoon on a generous serving of the ratatouille. Top with additional goat cheese, toasted pine nuts, and basil. Serve immediately.

Nutrition

  • Protein: 18g
  • Carbohydrates: 56g
  • Total Fat: 25g
  • Dietary Fiber: 8g
  • Cholesterol: 45mg
  • Sodium: 1213mg
  • Total Sugars: 12g

Why Meatless Monday?

  • Meatless Monday is of utmost importance, especially in the United States, as we consume much more animal products than the rest of the world.
  • The meat industry uses vast amounts of our finite fossil fuels and water and lots of grain to feed livestock, which is extremely inefficient. Why not use those resources to feed people more directly?
  • About 1,850 gallons of water is needed to produce a singular pound of beef, comparable to only 39 gallons of water per pound of vegetables. A vegetarian diet alone could dramatically reduce water consumption by 58% per person!
  • Meat production also is a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, which has proven to correlate to the climate change crisis. 
  • Some benefits of eating plant-based once a week include:
    • Save 133 gallons of water with each meatless meal!
    • Reduce your carbon footprint by 8 pounds each Meatless Monday you participate in
    • If you commit to participating in Meatless Monday every Monday, that is equivalent to skipping one serving of beef for a year, would save the same amount of emissions as driving 348 miles in a car.

***

If you have a recipe you would like to share with us for #meatlessmondays, please email christian.bearden100@gmail.com.If you would like to make an impact on reducing food waste and hunger help us grow our food rescue operations: Donate

Creamy goat cheese polenta with ratatouille. The Modern Proper. (n.d.). Retrieved November 1, 2022.

#meatlessmonday #foodfindersinc  #FoodRescue #reducehunger #improvenutrition #helpfoodinsecurecommunities #HelpEndHunger #Volunteer #Charity #fightinghunger #rescuingfood #Donate #makeanimpact

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Halloween Peppers

Happy Halloween!

#MeatlessMondays

Celebrate Halloween with these spooktacular healthy stuffed peppers. They’re perfect for a Halloween buffet or a family dinner ahead of trick-or-treating.

Prep:25 mins

Cook:35 mins

Ingredients

  • 4 small peppers (a mix of orange, red and yellow looks nice)
  • 25g pine nuts
  • 1 tbsp olive or rapeseed oil
  • 1 red onion , chopped
  • 2 fat garlic cloves , crushed
  • 1 small aubergine , chopped into small pieces
  • 200g pouch mixed grains (we used bulghur wheat and quinoa)
  • 2 tbsp sundried tomato paste
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • bunch basil , chopped

Cooking Instructions

  1. Cut the tops off the peppers (keeping the tops to one side) and remove the seeds and any white flesh from inside. Use a small sharp knife to carve spooky Halloween faces into the sides. Chop any offcuts into small pieces and set aside.
  2. Toast the pine nuts in a dry pan for a few mins until golden, and set aside. Heat the oil in the pan, and heat the oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Cook the onion in the oil for 8-10 mins until softened. Stir in the garlic, pepper offcuts and aubergine and cook for another 10 mins, until the veggies are soft. Add a splash of water if the pan looks dry. Season.
  3. Squeeze the pouch of grains to break them up, then tip into the pan with the tomato paste. Stir for a minute or two to warm through, then remove from the heat and add the lemon zest, basil and pine nuts.
  4. Fill each pepper with the grain mixture. Replace the lids, using cocktail sticks to secure them in place, and put the peppers in a deep roasting tin with the carved faces facing upwards. Cover with foil and bake for 35 mins, uncovered for the final 10. The peppers should be soft and the filling piping hot.

    Why Meatless Monday?

    • Meatless Monday is of utmost importance, especially in the United States, as we consume much more animal products than the rest of the world.
    • The meat industry uses vast amounts of our finite fossil fuels and water and lots of grain to feed livestock, which is extremely inefficient. Why not use those resources to feed people more directly?
    • About 1,850 gallons of water is needed to produce a singular pound of beef, comparable to only 39 gallons of water per pound of vegetables. A vegetarian diet alone could dramatically reduce water consumption by 58% per person!
    • Meat production also is a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, which has proven to correlate to the climate change crisis. 
    • Some benefits of eating plant-based once a week include:
      • Save 133 gallons of water with each meatless meal!
      • Reduce your carbon footprint by 8 pounds each Meatless Monday you participate in
      • If you commit to participating in Meatless Monday every Monday, that is equivalent to skipping one serving of beef for a year, would save the same amount of emissions as driving 348 miles in a car.

    ***

    If you have a recipe you would like to share with us for #meatlessmondays, please email christian.bearden100@gmail.com.

    If you would like to make an impact on reducing food waste and hunger help us grow our food rescue operations: Donate

    #meatlessmonday #foodfindersinc  #FoodRescue #reducehunger #improvenutrition #helpfoodinsecurecommunities #HelpEndHunger #Volunteer #Charity #fightinghunger #rescuingfood #Donate #makeanimpact

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    WH-Hunger-ConferenceHunger

    Food Insecurity and Food Waste: A Review of the White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health

    Overview

    On September 28, 2022, the Biden-Harris Administration held the White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health. As Food Finders’ new Outreach and Advocacy intern, I have been asked to review the conference, which is the first of its kind in over 50 years. The goal of the conference is to end hunger and increase healthy eating and physical activity in order to reduce diet-related diseases in Americans by 2030. The Biden-Harris administration announced that they had received over $8 billion in private- and public-sector commitments. There are over 20 partners, including AARP, Chobani, Doordash, Google, and the University of California System. Each group pledges to create programs that address food-insecure vulnerable populations by improving access to nutrition programs in the United States. 

    The areas I will cover in the post are:

    • the five pillars identified in the National Strategy,
    • how the pillars relate to Food Finders’ mission, and 
    • what is missing from the strategy.

    [Photo 1: President Joe Biden speaks during the White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health on Sept. 28, 2022, Link]

    “Together, we can build a healthier future for all Americans” – President Joe Biden

    The Five Pillars of the National Strategy

    The National Strategy identified five hefty pillars to address hunger, nutrition, and health:

    1. Improve food access and affordability.
    2. Integrate nutrition and health.
    3. Empower all consumers to make and have access to healthy choices.
    4. Support physical activity for all.
    5. Enhance nutrition and food security research.

    Each pillar aims to address issues that plague our communities and promote healthier lifestyles for children and families through improving access to healthy foods, safe locations for physical activity, and nutrition and health education. The fifth pillar, which focuses on food security research, encompasses all the pillars. Increasing research in these areas would allow organizations to understand just how current and new programs and implementations are impacting the issue of food insecurity. 

    [Photo 2: Impacts of Food Insecurity from the White House National Strategy (page 6) Link]

    Pillar 1 and Food Finders

    While each pillar is important, Pillar 1 aligns the most with Food Finders’ current mission, which is to eliminate hunger and food waste and improve nutrition in food-insecure communities. The first pillar aims to reduce hunger and increase access to healthy meals for everyone first by “helping all Americans become economically secure” through the expansion of the Child Tax Credit (CTC) and the Earned Income Tax Credit and increasing the minimum wage (p. 8). Increasing the incomes of households is an incredibly important step toward increasing access to healthy foods. While this pillar focuses on the economic side of food insecurity, Food Finders works to get food directly to those who need it. Food Finders has several programs, such as the Food Rescue Program, Food4Kids, and community Food Hubs. The organization coordinates daily pick-ups of surplus food from grocers, schools, and restaurants through each program. It distributes the food directly to pantries, shelters, youth programs, and senior centers for either hot meals or grocery distribution. Overall, their goal is to keep food from going to waste and divert it to adults, families, and children who need it the most.  

    Panels on the pillars

    The White House held ten panels on the National Strategy Pillars. Each pillar had two panels, and the agenda for each panel and its corresponding YouTube link can be found here. The first panel for Pillar 1 is “Nourishing Brighter Futures: Ensuring affordable food for all children and families.” This panel features several experts discussing the common barriers to food access, such as the stigma around food insecurity and inadequate wages. The discussion emphasizes the importance of nutrition education for children and improving children’s access to food at home for families and at school.

    [Photo 3: Panel 1A Mike Curtin, Jr. moderates a conversation with Shavana Howard, Donna Martin, Mark Ramos, and Shannon Razsadin, YouTube]

    What is Missing From the Strategy?: The Importance of Food Waste

    Despite the enormous negative impact of food waste on the environment, the White House National Strategy dedicates only five bullet points to address food recovery. When uneaten food piles up at the landfill, the decomposition process releases huge amounts of methane gas, a greenhouse gas, into the atmosphere. Wasting food also wastes freshwater, cropland, and fertilizer, not to mention the time and effort put into planting and harvesting the crops by farmers and agricultural workers. 

    [Photo 4: Environmental Impact of Food that is Produced But Never Eaten, ReFED]

    The Strategy cites the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as leading resources for preventing food loss and waste. But it does not mention food surpluses due to overproduction or the efforts of local community organizations to allocate food to the right places. The document also ensures that the Department of the Treasury will “clarify the enhanced charitable deduction calculation to support businesses donating food”. Still, it does not mention the need to support farmers to harvest unprofitable crops due to cosmetic reasons (p. 14). The State of Pennsylvania has a program that does this. Later, in the Call to Action, the Administration asks to state, local, and territory governments to “enact food waste reduction and recovery policies such as providing tax incentives to food donors” (p. 16).

    According to ReFED, 40% of all food is not eaten, while over 50 million Americans remain food insecure. To Food Finders, the issue and solution are obvious, and the organization combines both of these problems to promote a mission that prioritizes sustainability over consumerism and overproduction. In 2021 alone, Food Finders rescued 7.2 billion gallons of water, 8.6 million pounds of CO2 emissions, and provided 13.2 million meals to Southern Californians. This year the organization expects to surpass those numbers. 

    Although the National Strategy is far-reaching in its mission to increase access to healthy foods for Americans, it fails to adequately highlight the need to reduce food waste and its subsequent detrimental impacts on our environment. It also fails to highlight the connection between reducing food insecurity through reducing food waste. While governmental organizations are pushing for change, it would have been very powerful for the White House to give more attention to this aspect of the hunger issue. However, this slight oversight only fortifies Food Finders’ determination to increase the visibility of their efforts on a local and regional level and the efforts of other anti-food waste organizations in the United States. 

    What Can You Do To Help?

    Food Finders works daily to change how food waste is distributed to eliminate hunger and food insecurity. If you would like more information, please visit our website, volunteer, or help our operations by making a donation.

    #Hunger #Nutrition #Health #WhiteHouse #FoodFinders

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    Fight climate change by preventing food wasteFood Waste

    Fight Climate Change by Preventing Food Waste

    Today, an estimated one-third of all the food produced worldwide goes to waste. That’s equal to about 1.3 billion tons of fruits, vegetables, meat, dairy, seafood, and grains that either never leave the farm, get lost or spoiled during distribution, or are thrown away in hotels, grocery stores, restaurants, schools, or home kitchens. It could be enough calories to feed every undernourished person on the planet. (WWF)

    But it isn’t just about wasted food. Food Waste causes climate change and since 43% of most of the edible food that is thrown into our landfills in the United States is from individual households….this is a problem that we can solve, together.

    Food Waste = Climate Change

    When we take that wilted lettuce or mushy strawberries out of the refrigerator and toss them into the trash, we are also throwing away all the energy and water it takes to grow, harvest, transport, and package that food. Why? Well, when we toss that into the trash it ends up in a landfill and rots. That is what produces methane—a greenhouse gas even more potent than carbon dioxide.

    About 6%-8% of all human-caused greenhouse gas emissions could be reduced if we stop wasting food. In the US alone, the production of lost or wasted food generates the equivalent of 32.6 million cars’ worth of greenhouse gas emissions. (WWF)

    How Can A Recipe Help?

    Meatless Monday was originally started to get people to stop eating so much meat. At Food Finders, we just want you to think about how to better use the food you purchase and since produce is the most common food type to get thrown out–we wanted to offer you a solution to preparing and planning meals, but also to use all the food in the fridge, even when it looks a bit mushy and strange.

    Strawberries should not be washed until you eat them. But if you let them sit just a bit too long, they can still be chopped up and mixed with other foods for a delicious and nutritious meal. Today we want you to pull out those strawberries and make a meal out of them. Make it your responsibility to monitor the fridge contents and find ways to use everything–saving water, energy, and our beautiful planet!

    Strawberry walnut salad in a bowl.

    Try This Refreshing Strawberry Walnut Salad!

    Strawberries, even when mushy, add a flavor and fragrance to a salad that makes it seem like a treat. Today our plant-based meal is also high in fiber, which makes it so filling for a lighter choice. Plus, for every strawberry you can save and eat, you will know that you are doing your part to prevent food waste.

    Major Health Benefits

    Nutrition is one of Food Finder’s important mission goals. When we feed people food, they nourish their bodies and minds. This delicious salad is filled with many health benefits. First, you have the base… baby spinach. As simple as it sounds, spinach can also be very nutritious as it is a good source of both vitamin A and vitamin C–and it is another food that often gets thrown out because it is left too long. Now you have your strawberries. Not only are they the perfect summer fruit to cool down with, but strawberries can also even help with inflammation. Lastly, you want to add a bit of crunch by adding walnuts. This Omega-3 plant source is much needed as it helps to boost your immune system and decrease the chance of heart disease. Mixing this all up you are preventing food waste, nourishing your body, and enjoying a delicious meal that will hopefully inspire many more!

    Ingredient List

    For the Salad:

    • 10 oz bag baby spinach
    • 1⁄3 cup of feta cheese
    • 1 lb strawberries, sliced
    • ¼ cup of walnuts, chopped
    • 1 red onion, sliced

    For the Dressing:

    • 2 tbsp. olive oil
    • 1 ½ tbsp. white wine vinegar
    • ½ lemon, juiced
    • 1 ½ tbsp. of honey
    • ¼ tsp. salt
    • 1 ½ tsp. Dijon mustard
    •  ⅛  tsp. garlic powder

    NOTE: This meal can be made in 15 minutes or less!

    Directions

    1. In a large bowl, fill with your baby spinach and other salad toppings. We suggest putting all your toppings in a separate bowl (away from the salad) and shake it to get a nice mix of everything. Then you can add it along with the dressing.
    2. Next you will need to make the dressing for your salad. Whisk all your ingredients together in a small bowl or reusable container.
    3. You can now pour your dressing on your salad to your own liking. If you’d like, you can also add a dash of pepper as a finishing touch.
    4. And that’s it! Time to enjoy your meal.

    If you have a recipe you would like to share with us for #meatlessmondays, please email us! Feel free to check out our other #meatlessmonday recipes on our blog if you haven’t already.

    Make a Choice

    What we do is bigger than food rescue blog

    In addition to planning your meals and keeping food from ever going to the landfill, you can also make an impact on reducing food waste and hunger by helping us grow our food rescue operations: Donate

    Or Volunteer

    #StopFoodWaste

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