Local Efforts on the Big Issues


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Food Waste

A third of the food intended for human consumption – around 1.3 billion tons – is wasted or lost. This is enough to feed 3 billion people. Food waste and loss accounts for 4.4 gigatons of greenhouse gas emissions annually; if it was a country, food waste would be the third highest emitter of  greenhouse gases, behind China and the U.S. Food waste and loss occurs at different stages in developing and developed countries; in developing countries, 40% of food waste occurs at the post-harvest and processing levels, while in developed countries, 40% of food waste occurs at the retail and consumer levels. (source www.Earth.org) 

Below is a look at the work being done locally by the County and an external organization on this topic. 

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County Work on This Important Topic

The County’s Live Well San Diego Food System Initiative works toward a robust and resilient local food system that builds healthy communities, supports the economy, and enhances the environment. Our interdepartmental working group meets regularly to integrate projects and support learning, and collaborates with external organizations to improve food security, increase access to local healthy food, and prevent food from going to waste by supporting food donation.

The County entered into a formal partnership with the San Diego Food System Alliance, as directed by the Board to support the development and implementation of San Diego County Food Vision 2030, which was released in July 2021. This 10-year strategic plan builds on and complements the efforts initiated by the County’s State of the Food System Report for the San Diego Region, and will guide our region to cultivate justice, fight climate change, and build resilience. Check out their interactive website and dashboard to learn more!

To provide safe food donation and improved food security in the region in 2021, the County registered and permitted 150 charitable feeding organizations in 2021. 

Through annual assessments of community needs, the County identifies opportunities to improve food access in underserved communities through outlets such as certified farmers markets and community supported agriculture organizations. Learn more about our food waste efforts here

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County Demonstration Garden

To support a more resilient local food system, the County developed a demonstration garden at the County Operations Center that opened on October 27, 2021. 

The 20x20 foot garden showcases an edible landscape design and offers education about urban gardening and sustainability for visitors to the COC, County staff, and the general public. The design of Live Well San Diego Demonstration Garden was done in close partnership with the Master Gardeners Association of the University of California Cooperative Extension.  Learn more here.

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San Diego Food System Alliance

The mission of the San Diego Food System Alliance is to cultivate a healthy, sustainable, and just food system in San Diego County.

The San Diego Food System Alliance operates a Wasted Food Prevention Program that provides comprehensive and specialized services to government agencies, institutions, businesses, nonprofits and residents as they take steps to reduce food waste. The program includes Technical Assistance, Consumer Education, and Network Development.

You can download their Wasted Food Prevention Program overview.

Through their Smart Kitchens San Diego program, the Alliance coaches hotels, hospitals, universities, and other large institutions on prevention strategies including inventory management, recipe reuse opportunities, and optimized production levels. In collaboration with food recovery organizations, Smart Kitchens San Diego also connects institutions with local nonprofit partners for food donation.

Cities are facing increased waste reduction regulations that require supportive services for implementing wasted food solutions. The Alliance is working with regulators at CalRecycle, as well as local city officials, to ensure that state requirements for food waste prevention and donation are met in the San Diego County region.

Want to learn more? Check out this case study on food waste in households.