Group aims to tackle Sonoma County food waste

Christi Warren, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

To add an emergency food provider to the directory, click here. Interested in more information about getting involved with the Sonoma County Food Recovery Coalition? A panel and screening of the film “Just Eat It” will be held at Healdsburg SHED, 25 North St., 6-8 p.m., Sept. 14.

In Sonoma County, about 45,500 tons of food waste go into the landfill each year.A group of local nonprofits is aiming to change that by diverting it instead into the hands and homes of the estimated 82,000 people who go hungry each month in Sonoma County.

Called the Sonoma County Food Recovery Coalition, the group is at work on a mapping tool to help the public reduce its food footprint. It will allow someone to punch in their ZIP code to find the nearest drop-off spot accepting whatever they’re trying to donate, whether prepared food, unsold farm stand produce or excess apples from a family’s backyard tree.

“That, for me, is like the 2.0 iteration of food recovery and food waste prevention,” said Suzi Grady, program director for Petaluma Bounty and a founding member of the coalition.

Many producers across the North Bay already have such relationships with emergency food providers, Grady said, like when Petaluma’s Della Fattoria has leftover bread, or San Rafael’s Wild West Ferments accidentally orders too much cabbage.

“So we’ll go pick that up and distribute it to an emergency food provider,” Grady said.

The newest effort is a way to simplify that process and make it easier for small producers — even private citizens — to connect to the food recovery movement, broadening the supply chain for emergency food providers across the North Bay. Private donations are covered by the Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act of 1996, which excludes donor liability except in cases of gross negligence.

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