Food Finders News

The Learning Starts Now: Preventing Waste in Back-to-School Lunches

Summer has ended and schools have opened their doors to eager students (and parents!). It’s time to trade in the zoom classroom and at-home lunches, for a full blown in-person school experience that we’ve all been waiting for. It’s probably been a while since you thought about packing a lunch bag, so let us help you get started!  There are a multitude of ways that you can make your child’s lunch fun, yummy yet nutritious, and environmentally friendly.

The average American family throws out approximately 300 pounds of food a year, which equates to about $2,200. The easiest, yet most overlooked, method to help reduce this waste is meal planning. Planning out what food you need for the week before making your grocery store run can help you avoid any impulse purchases or overestimating quantity (which saves money!). If meal planning sounds time consuming and difficult to manage, there are apps available, such as MealBoard, that help you stay organized and on top of your schedule.

Bento lunch boxes are another method found to be useful for preventing waste. Their design provides separate sections that can be specified for a certain type of food. Having different sections makes the food not only look more appealing, but last longer and taste better. No kid wants to eat a sandwich that is squished against their fruit. Therefore, keeping them separate and fresh will likely encourage them to eat both! So many companies have taken on the bento- style of lunch boxes and added their own spin on them. One of the more popular brands is Bentgo, a lightweight, portable, stylish choice also safe for the environment. A key selling point—using ONE Bentgo consistently can keep 540 plastic sandwich bags out of our landfills each year!

In addition to our individual efforts, it is important to recognize the amazing work schools are doing to prevent waste and reduce hunger. Several schools in LA county have incorporated a Share Table Program where students can offer up their unopened food or drinks that they choose not to consume. This allows other students to add additional items to their lunch or snack, eliminating extra food waste. The act of sharing alone demonstrates how unwanted food does not have to be wasted. What may be undesirable for one child can be a treat for another.

Following these simple yet effective tips can make drastic improvement in not only your community, but your personal life as well! Additionally, if you know of a local school that would like to donate their overages, we will gladly pick up and redistribute those milks, apple slices and other unserved items and deliver to grateful after school centers and others who can ensure nothing goes to waste. Food Finders is here to help!

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

#foodfindersinc  #FoodRescue #reducehunger #foodrecovery #Volunteer #Charity #helpfoodinsecurecommunities #HelpEndHunger #EndHunger #fightinghunger #rescuingfood #Donate #makeanimpact

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Community

Flux Sucks – Goodwill Is A Good Antidote

The heat is on, the season is in full swing, and families, employers, and businesses are still in various stages of flux. If you’d bet the pandemic would last past a year, you’d be cashing in right now.

Some people are making the most of the situation and taking advantage of productive, remote working situations, building more downtime into their schedules to spend with family and friends, visits to the beach and even time to cook more meals.

But a few blocks from your house or even just a few doors away, there are people struggling to stay positive. Summer is especially stressful. For parents, it brings the question of who will provide childcare if it’s even available, or how do I ensure my children are engaged if they’re not in a camp, summer school or community program? At the most basic level—”How do I keep my family from going hungry?” is being asked by one in five families, particularly while there’s no access to school meal programs.

The Health Care Agency of Orange County, published a study late last year that showed an 83% increase in the number of children facing food insecurity compared to 2018. USC Dornsife’s Public Exchange released a report around the same time last year about hunger in L.A., reinforcing how children experiencing hunger “are at a higher risk for cognitive problems, anxiety and depression.” Recently congress submitted an update to legislation called the Stop Child Hunger Act, with the intention of making summer food support permanent rather than a year-by-year consideration.

There IS something you can do, and not only will it improve your own mental health but will make an immediate impact and provide some stability to others. Your donation to Food Finders’ Summer To End Hunger drive ensures struggling kids and their families can eat, alleviating the stress of affording food so they can focus on other expenses and needs. Whether you’re collecting canned goods or cash, you’re supporting hundreds of nonprofits that in turn are serving thousands of families.

There’s an entire month of our drive remaining to continue addressing this immediate need – don’t go it alone. Enlist your tribe, your team, your ten or so friends or family members and make an even bigger impact!

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

#foodfindersinc  #FoodRescue #reducehunger #foodrecovery #Volunteer #Charity #helpfoodinsecurecommunities #HelpEndHunger #EndHunger #fightinghunger #rescuingfood #Donate #makeanimpact

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Food Finders News

You’ve Got $1600 Right In Your Fridge!

About twenty or so years ago, when Food Network was first gaining traction, they featured a show called Door Knock Dinners, where the chef/host would “surprise” a family at random and demonstrate how to combine, for example, a head of cauliflower, two chicken breasts, basil that’s about to go bad and a cup of leftover beans in their fridge or pantry into a delicious meal. It was great inspiration for getting creative with ingredients on hand. It also, if indirectly, encouraged reducing food waste, which according to statistics is most prevalent at the consumer level.

Food Waste, even with smart fridges and grocery shopping apps at our disposal (pun intended), still remains an issue to the point that the USDA estimates each household throws out an average of $1600 worth of food per year. That’s at least another couple month’s-worth of groceries! Most people would like to think they are intentional shoppers, but even fastidious households or family cooks wind up with wilted lettuce or forgotten mashed potatoes at the back of their fridge at some point. In some cases, a good food storage set-up can make a world, and wallet-full, of difference, but there’s yet another challenge we face when it comes to reducing food waste.

Food labels and dates continue to be a bit of a consumer conundrum. We mostly use smell and taste tests at home, and when you see mold on your yogurt, probably best to toss it. But what do the best by, sell by, use by dates all mean? There’s no actual USDA federal regulation on any of it, but some states have their own standards in place. California passed a law that helps align with major food trade organizations in reducing confusion and offering consistent label definitions. One helpful resource is EatByDate, which provides guidelines of how long common perishable foods should last, and an alternate comprehensive list includes shelf-stable items.

So, while we’ve basically mastered how long our eggs, milk, and lunch are good for, there are always new products hitting the market that present a bit of a learning curve on shelf life, like meat-replacement patties, non-dairy milks, pressed juices, and others. A general rule of thumb for many of these is 3-5 days after opening, but that can vary.

The overall key in reducing food waste is careful planning, and in the best of circumstances, having a compost system in place to capture scraps so they get a second life.

As a food vendor, manufacturer, distributor, or producer, it’s important to know that donating food—whether edible but past it’s sell by or best by date, slightly damaged but still good, or purely an overproduction–is always an option. By January 2022, California businesses will need to address their food overages in order to comply with SB1383, which we’ll cover in another blog, so donating should be on everyone’s radar.

Meanwhile, Food Finders encourages you to share about our Food Rescue Program with friends, associates and business partners, so we can ensure that beyond the consumer level, everyone is doing their part to reduce food waste.

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

#foodfindersinc  #FoodRescue #reducehunger #foodrecovery #Volunteer #Charity #helpfoodinsecurecommunities #HelpEndHunger #EndHunger #fightinghunger #rescuingfood #Donate #makeanimpact

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Hunger

LGBTQ And Hunger: What You Should Know

In honor of Pride Month, Food Finders is shining a spotlight on some of the lesser-known facts about hunger and how it affects the LGBTQ community.

While hunger is often tied to homelessness, and a high population of people served by our partner agencies and pantries are homeless or unemployed, an oft-overlooked community that is reliant upon food banks, pantries and social services continues to be LGBTQ adults and teens. As indicated recently by Oregon Food Bank, more than a quarter of this community struggles with food insecurity. The reasons for this are tied directly to similar discriminatory acts faced by people of color.

Discrimination at places of work, within housing and education and even within the healthcare system has affected the levels of poverty that are perpetuated and growing within the transgender community in particular. Additionally, LGBTQ people of color have twice the rate of hunger as general BIPOC. A report issued in 2016 by the Williams Institute showed that The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) served nearly 1.37 million LGBTQ Americans several years ago, and we know that number has increased since. Worse, proposed cuts to the SNAP program further threaten food access for LGBTQ adults, although the country’s current administration is hoping to see increases in the federal funding for SNAP, but the proposals have not been approved.

Support systems are crucial, in the community and within families. In some families there is rampant unacceptance of LGBTQ members, particularly teens, and they are left to fend for themselves. While organizations like National LGBTQ Anti-Poverty Network , the National LGBTQ Task Force and many others advocate for their communities regularly, there is still much progress to be made.

You can help! Food Finders urges everyone to take a few minutes to get involved and lend a voice on behalf of our LGBTQ friends and family. Start here to share your stories and messages of support.

As William Faulkner said, “Never be afraid to raise your voice for honesty, truth, and compassion against injustice…If people all over the world would do this, it would change the earth.”

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

#foodfindersinc  #FoodRescue #reducehunger #foodrecovery #Volunteer #Charity #helpfoodinsecurecommunities #HelpEndHunger #EndHunger #fightinghunger #rescuingfood #Donate #makeanimpact

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Food Waste

Go Eco-Friendly: 5 Ideas For An Environmentally-Kind Holiday

As Memorial weekend approaches, many of us will perhaps be planning or attending our first major get-together of the year. Whether it’s a barbecue, beach bash, park picnic, or backyard fiesta, why not make it decidedly green by starting with one or all five tips. Waste not…party on!

Choose To Reuse your plates, cups, napkins, cutlery–it’s easy to find inexpensive plastic, glass and metal serving-ware for casual events that you can easily wash off and put away for the next celebration. A simple pie plate subs in for paper or Styrofoam, and the popular red Solo cups now come reusable and are totally affordable. So much better than filling up a trash bag or two and sending it to a landfill to languish for years.

Beverage Stations Are Best for reducing piles of plastic bottles, cans, or cups. A few large vessels filled with your favorites, like refreshing lemonade, soda or an adult beverage, make your gathering festive and earth-friendly. And they save you money, so why not?

Cook What You Need is a Food Finders favorite tip, so whatever doesn’t get opened or grilled—burgers, veggies, hot dogs—can be stored for later. Nobody wants food that’s sat out for a few hours, and sadly, those leftovers can’t be donated either. Use a portion guide to determine how much to prepare, and you won’t have to waste! And, if you do end up with extra frozen patties or unserved items, feel free to drop them off.

Consciously Decorate by getting creative with upcycled or multi-use articles. Find cool ways to repurpose items that you might already have on hand. Strings of lights are easy, along with chalkboards, wood pallets and cloth, like this DIY backyard movie screen—super simple!

BYOC, aka, bring your own containers! Just in case there are a few spare pounds of salad, or goodness forbid, the cookies don’t all get devoured, you can encourage guests to come prepared with their own carryout container. If you’re the lucky leftover recipient and need inspiration, there are plenty of great ways to use barbecue extras.

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

#foodfindersinc  #FoodRescue #reducehunger #foodrecovery #Volunteer #Charity #helpfoodinsecurecommunities #HelpEndHunger #EndHunger #fightinghunger #rescuingfood #Donate #makeanimpact

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Food Finders News

Making The Most Impact With Your Charitable Giving

Ask just about any nonprofit what they need funding for most, and it would very likely be General Operating support. It’s sort of the ongoing push and pull with any development team within a nonprofit to find a balance where you can both please your constituents who donate and sustain your business, because a nonprofit is a business that still has the usual expenses as a for-profit—rents, salaries, utilities, IT costs—and those are also the least appealing expenses to many funders.

What is most appealing of course are the programs, usually whatever is tied to a nonprofit’s mission. In the case of Food Finders, it’s our food rescue program, which is our core effort, along with our sub-programs such as feeding kids, hosting food hubs and providing nutrition education. These direct extensions of our goal to eliminate hunger and food waste provide the positive outcomes that we are more than happy to share. It’s the reward that makes us all feel good about working for, volunteering at, and supporting the organization.

But how can a nonprofit sustain its programs if it can’t afford the rent or the program manager’s salary? Like we sometimes say, we can’t pay our electric bill with a case of donated bananas, so it takes a diverse stream of revenue to keep our programs going and growing.

And then there’s the other side of the matter, which is the ever-changing financial climate. Some years, interest levels and income plummet from investments, and nonprofits that prosper from robust contributions based on investment income are left scrambling to rethink their fundraising plans. Foundations that might have generously donated in years past may have to limit their grantmaking or individuals with previously thriving portfolios might rethink their charitable giving.

In 2020, the economic recession that nobody saw coming due to a pandemic left analysts predicting that a third of nonprofits would close. The actual outcome is still being determined, but while many nonprofits that focused on human services saw an increase of emergency support, others suffered setbacks as their programs were made less of a priority, particularly those in the arts or education. Of those that stayed open, a huge percentage were heavily burdened with increased demand.

So, what makes supporting nonprofits a Win-Win, for the donor and organization? Consider these options:

–Join a monthly giving program to spread your dollars across the year and allow them to be spent as needed, like The Share Table. You’ll still receive a charitable deduction come tax time.

–Set up a Donor Advised Fund, a tax benefit that can include cash, stock and other assets as designated.

–Designate funding as Unrestricted, so a nonprofit can spend the dollars prudently where they are most needed and fill in any gaps that program-directed funds don’t cover.

Corporate sponsorships are always welcome, along with employee giving campaigns, which benefit a company’s image and morale while showing the community some local support via the charity of choice.

Bottom line, it’s important is to know your dollars are wisely earned and spent, and transparency is key, which is why one of Food Finders’ core values is Integrity. For a good source on where to cast your philanthropic net, consider Charity Navigator, which provides current ratings and complete financial profiles of hundreds of nonprofits.

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

#foodfindersinc  #FoodRescue #reducehunger #foodrecovery #Volunteer #Charity #helpfoodinsecurecommunities #HelpEndHunger #EndHunger #fightinghunger #rescuingfood #Donate #makeanimpact

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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.