EPA’s California Food Recovery Challenge Awardees Reducing Food Waste, Preventing Greenhouse Gases
SAN FRANCISCO – Last week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recognized the achievements and innovations of 11 California businesses, government agencies, and organizations that participated in EPA’s Food Recovery Challenge in 2020 and 2021.
“Reducing food waste represents an environmental and economic benefit for communities in our region,” said EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator Martha Guzman. “The Food Recovery Challenge Awardees in California are leading the way, modeling how organizations across the state can address food insecurity, prevent methane emissions that contribute to climate change, and make cost-saving business decisions.”
“Our main purpose is to lower food insecurity among our students and reduce our campus’s food waste through curriculum and collaboration,” said Alexandra Yates, Program Director of the Food Service Management Program at Orange Coast College, a recipient of a 2021 National Award for Education and Outreach. “No student should ever go hungry. If we can tie it to curriculum so that we can train our future leaders, we can all work towards finding a solution to this problem.”
In 2020, Orange Coast College Recovery Kitchen distributed 212,392 meals and recovered 609,541 pounds of surplus edible food that would otherwise go to landfill to benefit students and community members experiencing food insecurity during the COVID-19 pandemic. The kitchen also helped students in the food service management, culinary arts, baking and pastry, and nutrition programs gain experience working in a commercial high-volume kitchen, with an emphasis on transforming edible recovered food into nutritious, well-balanced meals.
Caption: Orange Coast College Recovery Kitchen food recovery experts transform surplus food into meals for students and community members.
Nearly 600 businesses, government agencies and organizations across the country participated in EPA’s Food Recovery Challenge in 2020-2021. Through the Challenge, EPA has worked with organizations and businesses for the past decade to set data-driven goals, implement targeted strategies to reduce wasted food in their operations, and report results to compete for recognition.
The complete list of 2020-2021 California awardees:
- 2020 Education & Outreach – Los Angeles County Public Works – Environmental Programs Division (Alhambra, Calif.)
- 2020 Leadership – Food Forward (North Hollywood, Calif.)
- 2021 Education & Outreach – Orange Coast College Recovery Kitchen (Costa Mesa, Calif.)
- 2021 Innovation – Food Forward (North Hollywood, Calif.)
- 2021 Leadership Award – FoodCycle LA (Los Angeles, Calif.)
- 2020 Data Driven – Disneyland Resort (Anaheim, Calif.)
- 2020 Data Driven – Zero Waste Company (Santa Monica, Calif.)
- 2020 Data Driven – San Diego International Airport (San Diego, Calif.)
- 2021 Data Driven – Sprouts Farmers Market: 255 (Woodland Hills, Calif.)
- 2020 Data Driven – Sprouts Farmers Market: 428 (Lincoln, Calif.) and Sprouts Farmers Market: 283 (Santa Clara, Calif.)
- 2021 Data Driven – Feeding It Forward, Inc. (Napa, Calif.)
Each year in the United States, 73 to 152 million metric tons of food is lost or wasted during all stages of the food supply chain (from primary production to consumption), according to the EPA’s November 2021 report, From Farm to Kitchen: The Environmental Impacts of U.S. Food Waste. Food waste adversely impacts the economy, communities, and the environment by wasting the resources used to grow and transport it.
By addressing food waste, there is an opportunity to lower our carbon footprint and increase climate resilience, while also addressing inequities in food security and public health. In other words, there are environmental, economic, and environmental justice co-benefits. Preventing food waste and keeping food and other organics out of landfills mitigates climate change, as an estimated 8 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions come from wasted food. At the same time, uneaten food contains enough calories to feed more than 150 million people each year, far more than the 35 million estimated food insecure Americans.
For more information on the Food Recovery Challenge national and regional awardees, visit
For information on the national food loss and waste reduction goal, visit