Links and Resources About Food Recovery in San Diego Area
Learn about some food recovery alternatives in the San Diego Area. EPA’s Food Recovery Hierarchy prioritizes these food waste strategies from most to least preferable.
Source reduction is the strategy of preventing food from becoming waste in the first place. There are many resources able to tackle source reduction:
- EPA Food Recovery Website
Toolkits and resources on this website include:
- Food and Packaging Waste Prevention Tool
Excel spreadsheet to identify patterns of waste.
- Reducing Wasted Food & Packaging: A Guide for Food Services
Provides guidelines on using the prevention tool tracking results to save money and reduce waste.
- Food Waste Assessment Guidebook
Shows how to do a one-time snapshot wasted food assessment.
- Food and Packaging Waste Prevention Tool
- National Restaurant Association Con Serve Program
Connects restaurant owners or managers to tools and information to reduce waste.
San Diego Resources
- City of San Diego has a Zero Waste resolution, and is working toward diverting more and more waste from the landfill. The City offers information on food waste diversion and a commercial food scrap composting program. Learn more (PDF).
- The County of San Diego provides ways to minimize food waste and maximize source reduction. The County also offers technical assistance to businesses and schools in the unincorporated areas of the county that want to reduce, donate or divert organics, including food waste.
- Save the Food
Provides food storage tips and other waste reduction strategies for households, as part of a national campaign.
- The City of Chula Vista offers tips for shopping and food storage to help households to minimize food waste.
- The City of Oceanside is on the Road to Zero Waste with a goal is of reaching a 75-90% diversion/recycling rate by 2020. The City also offers technical assistance to businesses within their jurisdiction.
Feed Hungry People (Donations)
Help curb hunger in our region. Businesses and others can help by donating surplus food. See below for organizations that help fight hunger in San Diego.
Ways to Donate
Food banks collect, store, and distribute food to networks of food pantries, homeless shelters, and other charities that rely on donations. Some provide food directly to the hungry. The larger food banks can help donors to find local charities that can accept their food donations.
Gleaning is the act of picking the excess fruit or vegetables that are left on trees or plants after the owners or farmers have harvested what they want to eat, or what they can sell. San Diego gleaning groups organize volunteers to harvest produce from backyards, orchards, and farms. Donors may claim tax deductions. Why let this fresh food go to waste?
Organizations Accepting Food Donations
The food banks in San Diego County are listed in the table below, along with other organizations able to accept large donations of food. If you are looking to donate to any of these organizations, please contact them using the information listed on the next page.
|Feeding San Diego||
9445 Waples St. Suite 135
|San Diego Food Bank||9850 Distribution Avenue
San Diego, CA 92121-2320
|- San Diego Food Bank - North County||680 Rancheros Road Suite 100
San Marcos, CA 92069
|Catholic Charities: Food Resource Centers (FRC)|
|Community Resource Center North County||650 Second Street
Encinitas, CA 92024
|Interfaith Services||Locations in Carlsbad, Escondido, and Oceanside||(619) 687-3720|
|San Diego Rescue Mission||Locations in Oceanside and San Diego||(619) 687-3720|
|Kitchens for Good||
2799 Health Center Drive
|Father Joe’s Villages||3350 E Street
San Diego, CA 92102
|Got Your Back San Diego||3820 Oceanic Drive,
Ste. 313 Oceanside
Oceanside, CA, 92056
|Southwestern College "Jag" Kitchen||900 Otay Lakes Road
Chula Vista, CA 91910
|St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church, Social Outreach||278 Alvarado Street
Chula Vista, CA, 91910
|Life Christian Center (Life Acts)||1079 3rd Avenue B
Chula Vista, CA 91911
|Jewish Family Service Food Pantry||San Diego, Oceanside, Poway||(858) 637-3210|
|7313 Carroll Rd. Suite D
San Diego, CA 92121
Tools for Finding Food Charities
- 2-1-1 San Diego
Serving San Diego County, 2-1-1 San Diego connects you with community, health and disaster services through a free, 24/7 stigma-free phone service and searchable database. Simply dial 2-1-1 or search their online database.
- San Diego Food Bank – Food Pantry Zip Code Search
The Food Bank offers a ‘zip code finder’ search for residents to use to find nonprofit partners who offer food assistance. Residents can also call at (866) 350-FOOD (3663).
- Feeding San Diego – Food Distribution Partner Search
Feeding San Diego connects residents in need with their local partners or mobile pantry locations through a searchable map. Residents can also call (858) 452-3663 or email email@example.com.
- I Love A Clean San Diego (ILACSD)
ILACSD’s recycling database and call center is a one-stop resource which offers information on donating perishable and non- perishable food--as well as how to divert household items, recyclables, and household hazardous waste from our landfills. Easy access information connects to local resources that reduce waste.
- Ample Harvest “Find a Pantry”
This national site provides a map tool for finding local food banks and pantries.
- County of San Diego - Soup Kitchens List
The County of San Diego’s Health and Human Services website provides a list of soup kitchens as a resource for veterans, military service members, and their families.
ReFed Innovator Database
TheDatabase is a living compilation of commercial and nonprofit entities turning the food waste problem into an opportunity for economic, social, and environmental impacts.This growing database is broken down by food waste solution type, organizational status, and geographic reach. Categories include secondary marketplaces that connect surplus food (food that would otherwise be wasted) to buyers. Food product creation organizations convert edible food that is currently considered waste (e.g., surplus/cosmetically challenged produce, brewery waste, vegetable trimmings) into value-added consumer food products (e.g., juices, fruit snacks, energy bars). The Database also lists a variety of food recovery organizations that capture edible food that would otherwise go to waste on farms, within the supply chain, or in consumer-facing businesses, and redistributes it to food insecure populations.
(1) LIABILITY OF PERSON OR GLEANER – A person or gleaner shall not be subject to civil or criminal liability arising from the nature, age, packaging, or condition of apparently wholesome food or an apparently fit grocery product that the person or gleaner donates in good faith to a nonprofit organization for ultimate distribution to needy individuals.
- Courtesy of the Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Act
- Feeding San Diego
Feeding San Diego sends requests for gleaning to local organizations (like the ones below) who can come out to farms, orchards, or backyards to pick the remaining crop for distribution to the hungry. Residents can also call 1-866-350-FOOD (3663) to access this information.
ProduceGood operates the CropSwap gleaning program, which organizes teams of volunteers to pick fruit from private groves and orchards throughout San Diego County. Its Market Share program recovers unsold produce from San Diego Farmers' Markets. Gleaned fruit is donated to food banks for distribution to the hungry.
- Senior Gleaners
These volunteer gleaners, aged 55+, harvest from backyards and farms throughout San Diego County, and collect unsold food from grocery stores and restaurants. Gleaned food is distributed at no charge to agencies feeding low income residents.
- San Diego Roots Sustainable Food Project
San Diego Roots Sustainable Food Project organizes volunteers to glean excess fruit from private trees to rescue and donate fresh, healthy food to families who rely on the food assistance system. Harvesting San Diego is a program of San Diego Roots Sustainable Food Project, a non-profit educational organization.
Working Towards a Fuller Future
These organizations coordinate efforts to reduce food waste and end hunger in San Diego County.
- San Diego Hunger Coalition
The San Diego Hunger Coalition leads coordinated action to end hunger in San Diego County through research, education and advocacy.
- San Diego Food System Alliance
The San Diego Food System Alliance is a collaborative whose mission is to develop and maintain an equitable, healthy and sustainable food system in San Diego County. The Alliance is focused on a number of issues, including supporting local farmers and fishermen, addressing food waste, catalyzing urban agriculture, and ensuring that healthy, quality food is available for all San Diegans.
- North County Food Policy Alliance
The purpose of the North County Food Policy Council is to find solutions to address the unmet food security needs of the residents of North County and to increase access to a secure and nutritionally quality food supply and food shed.
Food that is not suitable for donation to hungry people may be valuable for farmers with animals to feed. For instance, many breweries in San Diego donate their spent grain to farms and dairies in the region as well as out of state. The Ramona Unified School District uses food scraps from schools to feed animals in the agricultural program.
- For information on which farms are in need of spent grain or other food donations, please contact the San Diego County Farm Bureau - or call (760) 745-3023.
Fats, Oils and Grease, also known as FOG, can be converted into fuel and has various industrial uses. There is increasing interest in finding effective means to obtain biofuel and bio-products from wasted food. San Diego regional options include:
- New Leaf Biofuel
New Leaf Biofuel collects grease from restaurants, schools, hotels and other businesses to convert the cooking oil that would otherwise be discarded into biodiesel fuel.
- Buster Biofuels
Buster Biofuels partners with different businesses and corporations to collect and repurpose their used kitchen oils and grease to convert it into biofuel.
- EDCO Disposal Recycling Buy Back Centers
Edco Disposal accepts clean residential and commercial fat, oil and grease at no charge when taken to one of its six Certified Buy Back Recycling Centers.
Dar Pro Solutions
Dar Pro Solutions works with restaurants and other food service businesses to recycle used cooking oil and grease. They also partner with supermarkets and butchers to collect and repurpose inedible animal products.
Find an Anaerobic Digester (AD)
Use EPA’s Excess Food Opportunities Map to identify facilities near you.
Food Scraps Composting
Composting turn food scraps into a nutrient-rich soil amendments and can be done on site in smaller amounts or on a larger scale at a municipal or commercial level.
The San Diego region has facilities that accept food scraps for composting.
- Miramar Greenery – City of San Diego
The Miramar Greenery accepts commercial food scraps from pre-approved businesses to be taken to the Greenery and turned into compost. San Diego residents are allowed to take up to two cubic yards of compost for free. The Miramar Greenery website also lists the uses for compost.
- El Corazon Compost Facility - City of Oceanside
The City of Oceanside’s green waste program takes all green waste collected curbside to the El Corazon Compost Facility to be composted. The El Corazon Compost Facility is also currently accepting vegetative food scraps from pre-approved businesses in Oceanside. Oceanside residents are allowed to pick up compost for free with proof of residency at the Oceanside Solid Waste & Recycling Services.
- City of Chula Vista
Chula Vista is currently operating a pilot program where vegetative food waste is being collected from homes and businesses, and taken to the Otay Mesa Landfill Compost Facility.
- The Compost Navigator
Enter your address and any of eight material categories you’d like to sustainably manage, and the nearest composters (and AD facilities) will pop up in the map.
- Find a Composter
Use EPA’s Excess Food Opportunities Map to identify facilities near you.
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