One of the most impactful actions we can take as individuals to fight climate change is to reduce food waste. Globally, the United Nations estimates that approximately one-third of all food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted. At the same time, food loss and waste generates nearly eight percent of global greenhouse emissions. Source: EPA
In order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, California has enacted state law SB 1383, which required businesses and other commercial entities to donate edible food to feed hungry people. Instead unsold grocery store sandwiches molding in the compost bin, or perfectly edible fruits and vegetables going to a pig farm, these important resources are now diverted for their best and highest use: feeding hungry people.
Do you have more produce than you can eat, for example, an over-abundant fruit tree? Invite a team of volunteers to glean on your property - not only will you be preventing food from going to waste, that food can also feed people who might be food-insecure! Gleaning means to harvest leftover or unwanted food from a tree, field, or farm. Please see below for locations and organizations that would be willing to accept food donations or send out a gleaning team.
A lot of food waste prevention and food recovery work is going on in Sonoma County right now. Please visit our SB 1383 page to learn more about the law, and refer to the resources below for information on edible food recovery.
Businesses, schools, and other organizations with excess or surplus food are encouraged to donate food and feed people who may be food insecure. Zero Waste Sonoma (ZWS) and Conservation Corps North Bay (CCNB) are pleased to offer free food pick-up services through grants with CalRecycle and CalVolunteers. Please contact Xinci Tan email@example.com and Kyle LaRue firstname.lastname@example.org for more info and to sign up.
In addition, ZWS has purchased a license with Careit for a food donation software, which helps connect food donors with food recipient/distribution organizations. The software makes it easy for restaurants, grocery stores, schools, and other food donors to post surplus food, and nearby non-profit organizations are notified of the food available for pick up. Sign up to donate or receive food at https://careitapp.com/
As Zero Waste Sonoma's grant partner, Conservation Corps North Bay (CCNB) offers free food pick-up services. This program is funded by a Grant from the Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) through California Climate Investments, statewide program that puts billions of Cap-and-Trade dollars to work reducing GHG emissions, strengthening the economy, and improving public health and the environment — particularly in disadvantaged communities.
The Cap-and-Trade program also creates a financial incentive for industries to invest in clean technologies and develop innovative ways to reduce pollution. California Climate Investments projects include affordable housing, renewable energy, public transportation, zero-emission vehicles, environmental restoration, more sustainable agriculture, recycling, and much more. At least 35 percent of these investments are located within and benefiting residents of disadvantaged communities, low-income communities, and low-income households across California. For more information, visit the California Climate Investments website (http://www.caclimateinvestment.ca.gov)
The Sonoma County Food Recovery Coalition (SCFRC) is a group of non-profit organizations, government agencies and individuals who are dedicated to creating a community where food is shared equitably and where there is a deeper understanding of the value of resources that go into producing our food.
SCFRC's vision for Sonoma County is to increase food recovery and reduce waste food for greater community connectedness and resilience. The SCFRC strives to reinvigorate the sharing ethic and strengthen community connections through:
In all that we do, SCFRC seeks to embrace diversity and cultural differences in our networks and our opportunities to serve.
The Sonoma County Food Recovery Coalition comes together as a network on a monthly basis to gain awareness of work we are doing in the community to advance increasing food recovery and reducing wasted food in Sonoma County. We share resources and information, and periodically come together to collaborate on joint projects/initiatives. Regular attendance at our monthly meetings is important, as well as actively engaging in group dialogue and sharing. Each member represents their individual and agency goals and advocates for those, while listening openly to others' input and ideas. We honor cultural differences in the work that we do.
Zero Waste Sonoma is a proud member of the Sonoma County Food Recovery Coalition.
1. Reinvigorate the Sharing Ethic
Sharing local food resources strengthens community resilience in times of disaster. Before you throw something out, think about how your neighbors might want or need that food!
2. Prevent Waste
Forty percent of food produced in the United States goes uneaten -- that's at least 62.5 million tons of wasted food every year. In California, we are wasting about 5.6 million tons of food every year. This accounts for edible food from farm to fork, including the food that's left on the farm post-harvesting and packing, to food lost from manufacturers or processing, distribution, all the way to retail and food service, and at the household level as well.
In Sonoma County, food represents nearly 33% of a single-family residential waste stream. (see 2022 Waste Characterization Study) Nearly all wasted food can be either donated, composted or otherwise diverted from the landfill. For tips on how to compost your food scraps at home, see our Resources Page.
3. It's The Law!
California has passed legislation to prevent organic waste from going to landfill. Diverting wasted food from landfills not only conserves limited landfill space, but also reduces greenhouse gas emissions. In landfills, organic materials like food scraps and yard trimmings are broken down by bacteria to produce methane. Methane, a potent greenhouse gas, is shown to have a warming potential 21 times that of carbon dioxide, significantly contributing to global climate change.
Yes! Federal and state civil criminal liability protections are in place for food donors and non-profit organizations that receive and distribute food donations to those in need.
Improves and expands on the liability protections from the Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act (1996):
Business donors are eligible for an enhanced tax deduction for donations that meet certain criteria.
Tax Deduction Criteria:
Food date labels are an attempt to indicate quality, not safety. In fact, there are no federal regulations for date labeling for products other than infant formula.
According to the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Americans throw away approximately $165 billion worth of food each year, and for the average American family, that can be up to $2,200 per household. Click on the following links to learn how to reduce food waste in your household and keep it out of the landfill!
Yes, households are allowed to donate their fruits and vegetables to food recovery organizations. Donors are protected by the California Good Samaritan Act (AB 1219) (2017). For more information on gleaning, please see blow.
Help share the bounty of your summer vegetable garden with your community by hosting a Summer Produce Exchange. Any produce left at the end of the Exchange can be picked up by Farm to Pantry and delivered to a food distribution organization to help our community members in need. For Produce Exchanges held in Southern Sonoma County, reach out to Petaluma Bounty for pick up. For information on how to start an Exchange, see "Download Resources" below.
With a resurgence of home and community gardening, it may be time to think about a summer produce exchange. The Sebastopol Grange started a successful event which is held twice a month in 2019. People bring their surplus home grown vegetables, fruit, and plant starts at 5 p.m. on a Tuesday, sharing with one another. Forty-five minutes later, Dena Allen, co-host, begins rounding up what’s left to take to the local interchurch pantry.
Now the Sonoma County Food Recovery Coalition is looking for other sites, especially community gardens, which might host a swap. While the emphasis is on building supportive neighborly connections among home food growers, extra produce again can be gathered and delivered to a local food pantry. Or a local gleaning or food rescue group can be engaged to pick up and deliver what’s left at the end of the event. Click here to see a Fall 2021 article on the Sebastopol Produce Exchange.
The following resources are provided in the English and Spanish language. Click on the image to download the file.
Gleaning & Food Recovery
NotesPickup: whole produce and non-prepared foods only. Coordinates gleaning at farms, home gardens, and backyard trees in northern Sonoma County.
6550 Railroad Ave
Forestville, CA 95436
NotesDrop-off: whole/cut produce, meat, dairy, deli foods, bread, and commercially prepared foods still in their original packaging & other commercially prepared foods. No expired foods.
18330 Sonoma Hwy
Sonoma, CA 95476
NotesDrop-off: canned goods, dried goods and produce; call first.
NotesPickup: coordinates gleaning services in southern Sonoma County.
3990 Brickway Blvd.
Santa Rosa, CA 95403
NotesDrop-off: canned goods, dried goods and produce. See website for instructions.
101 6th St
Santa Rosa, CA 95401
NotesDrop-off: canned goods, dried goods and produce; call first.
NotesDatabase of local food recovery and distribution resources. The Food Distribution Directory connects people with opportunities to donate perishable food to people in need.
NotesPromoting a Zero Waste Sonoma County, Sonoma County Gleaners harvest surplus produce and donate it to our neighbors in need.
E Jasmine Cir
Santa Rosa, CA 95407
NotesPickup: food (all kinds) from events, farms, food producers, grocers, caterers, farmers' markets and restaurants to feed local hungry people. Tax receipts issued upon request.
610 Wilson St (entrance on 7th)
Santa Rosa, CA 95401
NotesDrop-off: fresh food, dried and canned goods; call first.