As the movement toward ZERO HUNGER and ZERO WASTE has grown across the nation, a handful of young adult Corpsmembers have been at the forefront in LA, leading the Corps Food Waste Prevention & Rescue Program. Heading up this unique community mobilization project in the San Fernando Valley, Corpsmembers Alex, Juan and their peers are working to improve a broken food system while providing food to the hungry.
“This is my first real job. It’s interesting to see how people thank us and how they react. You wouldn’t expect people to be super joyous when we hand them just one little basket that’s for them. Now I know there are more options than just getting rid of whatever food is not being sold by a certain date. We get it to people in need. Instead of putting it to a dumpster, we can give food to people who actually need it, instead of throwing it away.” – Corpsmember Alex, age 19
How are Corpsmembers rescuing food? A small crew recovers up to 3,100 lbs. of food waste every single day they are on the clock. They collect from local supermarkets, cafeterias, restaurants, convenience stores and even pizza shops. They deliver all the edible food they recover to our food bank partner in Pacoima, MEND (Meeting Every Need with Dignity), who feeds 30,000 people in need every month, of which over 1/3 of their clients fully depend on their food bank. Any inedible foods are taken to local schools to compost in their community gardens. The plan is to take excess food to Kroger’s anaerobic digester to be converted into biofuel in the future, as food collection increases. In all, nothing goes to a landfill. Every item is consumed, composted or converted.
“It makes me feel good that I’m actually helping out. I used to clean streets from trash. This is different. I didn’t know anything about landfills until I started working here. The Corps has taught me a lot. This food was considered waste, but not other people are able to enjoy it. Something we take for granted, a lot of other people now enjoy. It’s actually useful!” – Corpsmember Juan, Truck Driver, age 19
With LA County as the home of the largest food insecure population in America (1.3 residents are struggling to put food on the table), Corpsmembers like Alex and Juan are seeing the direct impact they are having by helping to provide food to individuals and families served by MEND. Thanks to their efforts, they have been able to provide more food to increase MEND’s service by 10,000 people per month since the Corps started the food recovery program a year ago. Read more…