San Diego Food System Alliance was awarded a $500k grant from California's Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) to support their Smart Kitchens San Diego project, in partnership with Jacobs & Cushman San Diego Food Bank and LeanPath, Inc. to provide tools and technical assistance for selected large food production facilities to help them effectively reduce food waste and donate edible food.

Smart Kitchen San Diego was partially inspired by StopWaste’s successful Smart Kitchen Initiative pilot program in Alameda County. The project will offer subsidies for the use of LeanPath’s food waste tracking system in hospitality, healthcare, college & university, corporate dining sectors, concentrated in three distinct high-need zones across the county. Use of LeanPath systems has demonstrated a 25%-50% reduction in pre-consumer food waste in these sectors. Majority of the grant funding will be going towards LeanPath’s food waste tracking system as well as trucking, refrigeration, and packaging for agencies receiving food donation.

According to the latest research by the San Diego Hunger Coalition, 1 in 6 people (16%) and more than 1 in 5 children (22%) in San Diego County, are food insecure. This means that they “don’t always have enough food for an active, healthy life” (Hunger Coalition 2017).  And yet, we waste so much food. In San Diego County, it is estimated that we dispose of 600,000 tons of food to landfill each year.

“Smart Kitchens San Diego is the right thing at the right time,” said Barbara Hamilton, Director of Strategic Initiatives of San Diego Food System Alliance. “This is a Win-Win-Win-- for business, hungry people, and for the environment. Businesses save money with food waste source reduction, hungry people benefit from wholesome food donation, and cities across the county benefit from reduced pollution and food waste to landfill.”

An important aspect of the project is increasing the capacity of food donation efforts in San Diego County.

“Although there is plenty of good food in San Diego county that could be donated to hungry people, non-profit food recovery agencies often lack sufficient transportation and manpower to collect the food,” says Hamilton.

In addition to making connections between food donors and food recovery agencies, Smart Kitchens San Diego will provide transportation vehicles, refrigeration, and support to facilitate food donation.

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