In 2014, Alameda County Supervisor Wilma Chan launched ALL IN Alameda County: The New War on Poverty (ALL IN). ALL IN is an innovation incubator within county government; membership consists of community residents, nonprofit leaders, providers, and the business community. ALL IN is an ongoing anti-poverty initiative focused on food security, economic empowerment, and education. A Food Recovery Action Team, formed in February 2016, has surfaced a unique opportunity to accomplish three goals at once: employing people in good, sustainable jobs, feeding hungry people, and reducing the environmental impacts of food waste. In Alameda County, 1 in 5 residents is food insecure. At the same time, food and food-soiled paper makes up about 35% of the waste stream in Alameda County. The Food Recovery Action Team is working together to solve these problems.
Imagine a food recovery service sector that provides jobs to local, hard-to-employ residents. Imagine local businesses that save money on landfill and organics collection by paying a lesser fee for food recovery services. Imagine that food is the smallest single item in the county’s waste stream instead of the being the largest. Imagine Alameda County’s food recovery service sector becoming a model for counties across the country.
The Food Recovery Action Team is conducting research in five areas that will inform the design, plan, and implementation of a county-wide food recovery service sector. These areas have been identified as key components of a food recovery system that will sustainably and equitably address food waste and hunger throughout the county. The five research areas include:
1) Food Security: In what ways can a food recovery service sector reduce food insecurity among the most vulnerable populations, including seniors and the homeless?
2) Environmental Costs and Benefits: What are the environmental costs of food waste? What are the environmental benefits of food recovery?
3) A Paid Food Recovery Workforce: How can county-subsidized jobs transition to sustainable positions within the waste management field?
4) Leveraging Existing Infrastructure: What infrastructure currently exists and what is needed to professionally recover food? How do we collaboratively build and share a food recovery infrastructure?
5) Economic Costs and Benefits: What are the costs and benefits for businesses to participate in food recovery? How can a food recovery service sector be economically sustainable?
*UPDATE: TIMELINE ADDED* 9/30/16
October-December 2016, Phase I: Planning
- On-board Food Recovery Action Team
- Ongoing planning meetings with partners
- Work with Waste Management to prepare and submit a proposal for CalRecycle's Green House Gas Reduction Program (State of California)
- Identify and secure additional funding commitments from government and philanthropic sources
- Identify and map existing food waste prevention and recovery infrastructure
- Design feasibility study to test assumptions of a paid food recovery service sector
- Identify population to be served
- Identify initial food donors and type of food to be recovered
- Identify initial food recipient organizations
- Identify infrastructure needs
January -March 2017, Phase II: Project Design
- Conduct feasibility study
- Based on study findings:
- Design pricing to incentivize business participation
- Design food recovery educational and branding/marketing campaign
- Design food runner job training program in partnership with Civicorps,
Dept. of Environmental Health, and other stakeholders.
- Design monitoring and evaluation methodology
April - June 2017, Phase III: Operations Plan
- Develop a draft operations plan based on findings from feasibility study
- Secure commitment from initial food donors
- Secure commitment from initial food recipient organizations
- Develop partner agreements/memoranda of understanding for food running operations
- Obtain equipment and agreements regarding infrastructure
July-September 2017, Phase IV: Finalize Operations Plan
- Finalize operations plan
- Develop expansion plan
- Hire and train food runners
September- December 2017, Phase V: Test, Monitor, & Evaluation Plan
- Conduct trial runs of implementation plan
- Conduct on-going monitoring and evaluation of trial runs
- Adjust program based on findings
January 2018-March 2018, Phase VI: Implementation
- Full launch of operations plan
- On-going monitoring and evaluation