Bay Area organizations work to reduce food waste, help people in need. Here's how

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Tuesday, July 25, 2023
Bay Area organizations work to reduce food waste. Here's how
Work is being done to make sure food that is still edible is kept from going into the trash and is given to those in need.

FREMONT, Calif. (KGO) -- Countless pounds of food each day go to waste in the Bay Area.

But work is being done to make sure food that's still edible is kept from going into the trash and is instead given to those in need.

Paddy Iyer is the executive director of the local nonprofit Daily Bowl, a food recovery organization.

Iyer takes food from Bay Area businesses that would have otherwise been thrown away and brings it to other nonprofits who help feed those in need.

Iyer gave ABC7 news cameras a look inside the nonprofit's refrigerated truck, filled with cases of eggs.

"All these eggs were going to get tossed and it's still valid for three more days," Iyer said.

Senate Bill 1383 already requires some businesses like wholesale food vendors and grocery stores to donate shelf-stable foods.

The law aims to reduce food waste by helping those in need and also combat climate change.

MORE: Bay Area food banks experiencing critical volunteer shortage despite higher need

Food insecurity in the Bay Area is back to pandemic levels and despite the higher need, the amount of volunteers is at a low.

Starting next year it will also apply to certain hotels, restaurants, large event venues and more.

Iyer packed up meals at Kaiser Permanente Fremont on Monday.

The hospital donates 10,000 pounds of food per year.

Food services director Rochelle Pierce says they've been donating to nonprofits through Daily Bowl since the end of 2017 after a change in their menu process allowed patients to better choose what food they received.

"The patients had a lot more choice, but we also had a lot more leftovers from that change," Pierce said. "I was able to reach out to a colleague who put me in touch with Paddy from the Daily Bowl, Daily Bowl was brand new at the time and we developed a partnership."

MORE: 'Food deserts': Nearly 900 neighborhoods across Bay Area have limited access to food

Iyer comes to the hospital, finds the meals in a dedicated refrigerator and then loads them up in the truck to take to organizations like Bay Area Community Services (BACS) where the meals are especially appreciated for being prepackaged.

"It's amazing and great for all of our clients," said Keisha Miller, a program manager for BACS South County Wellness Center. "They can come and have a well prepared meal that's healthy, but still tastes good."

Kaiser says it takes a lot of effort to pull food aside and keep it safe for donation, but say the benefits completely outweigh any hassle.

"It feels great, it's so rewarding," Pierce said, "It's probably one of the most rewarding things of my job and I'm in healthcare, so my job is already rewarding."

MORE: Food access gets worse in this Bay Area county as inflation hits 40-year high

With more SB 1383 enforcement on the horizon, Kaiser and Daily Bowl are helping others implement similar donation models.

"Now there's a huge funnel and a channel of food that's coming through the pipeline that can be used to serve the people who are critically in need," Iyer said, "And I think we are well poised to do that."

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