By Donna Westfall – November 16, 2016 – Do you hate waste, particularly when it involves fresh produce that could be used to feed people. We have a dilemma in this town. It’s not a big problem. It’s just that when Rural Human Services (RHS) has too much fresh produce, sometimes it goes to waste. Here’s why. They have normal distribution channels. Then after those are supplied, they may have pallets of bell peppers, apples, strawberries, broccoli, eggplant, etc., sitting with no place to go. Then they rot and have to be thrown away.
Here’s one scenario. Young mom abandoned by her baby’s father is penniless and doesn’t know where to turn, how to buy food or feed her baby. What to do?
Here’s another scenario. Parents are more interested in doing drugs than feeding their child(ren). No food in fridge.
While there are still hungry people in this town, especially children, we need to come up with a system for distributing food while it’s still viable to those that need it the most, want it and will use it.
While achieving zero waste at the Del Norte County Waste Station may be impractical, I do believe that it is entirely possible to have zero fresh food waste in this town with a little organization. And, it’s not just RHS, but also food waste in the public schools.
Per Dave Cormack, W”hen I worked as a Custodian for the Del Norte School District, you would not believe the amount of food I threw away every single day. I tried and tried, told the District I would use my time, and my fuel, to deliver the leftover food to somewhere that could use it, even to farmers to feed their pigs…No-Go. I guess it is a statewide law, that once the food has been put out for consumption, it either (1) goes into the kid’s stomach, or (2) goes into the dumpster. There were times I had to split the bag into 2 parts, because I could not physically lift the leftovers into the dumpster. and this was one little school, in one little county, in a very big state. I can only imagine the amount of food that is tossed into the garbage, every day, throughout CA.”
Here are some other ideas, thoughts and solutions from a few people discussing this on Facebook:
Mike Marler, “One of the other problems is a lot of families don’t eat right and the produce would probably go to waste in there refrigerators anyway. These kids need to be taught the importance of eating right….Maybe, you can offer it up to pig farmers in exchange for meat…Turn it into compost and sell the compost, The schools and food bank could collaborate maybe…Talk to Crescent Elk (school), maybe they could use the food banks waste for their garden compost since they’re not allowed to use their own…compost is not waste it will grow more food than you put into it, What you can’t give away to the poor give to the community garden… A big fold-out sign on the 101 Free Food.”
Lenda Gale Beck, ” Food is so expensive, this is the purpose of this post,, and we ought to as a group ought to be able to save the food from waste… it is like getting the food to where it needs to be and advertising the food times for the give away.”
One thought on “Suggestions needed on feeding the hungry and not wasting fresh food”
The main purpose of the statewide law isn’t to keep people hungry. It’s to protect against the dangers of bad food. We live in a sue-happy country with the majority of American’s lacking common sense about food safety.
One idea I thought of was simple:
Waiver of liability forms. It’s simple and effective way to remove liability to the persons or agencies providing resources to those in need. A person accepting food or other resources should be forced to sign simple to understand and legally binding contract that removes liability from the person or agency issuing the food and disclosing that the food doesn’t meet or pass the regularly controls that prevent issues arising such as potential for food poisoning, food safety et cetera.
Many governmental programs are forced to spend unused funds each year. I propose a law that forces those funds that are unused to be diverted to social good-will activities such as feeding the hungry and nutritionally vulnerable people.
I would also suggest daily social mealtimes (without requirements for prayer activities) for those in need. Persons would need to register ahead of time if possible, with limits on number of emergency uses. A little bit different than a soup kitchen.
Years ago I worked at a mission in Santa Cruz who did this. They would allow people to help prepare food in exchange for using services such as:
– Showers and sleeping quarters
– Laundry and clothes replacement programs (swap out worn-out clothing with new or decent replacements suitable for job-seeking and improving appearance)
– Free haircuts for those actively seeking employment and/or schooling opportunities, including community volunteering
– Access to resources like voicemail for job-seeking, including access to local & long distance.
– A physical mailing address for accepting mail
– A hot meal each night
– Movies and Game nights for getting out of bad weather.
The rules of the programs are simple:
Break the rules and no-trespassing orders are given. If this is done on private property, then only those who are accepted into the program can be on the property. Anyone over-staying or not using the services to get a stable footing in their lives to not move forward will be removed from the program.
The property should be in-town and doesn’t have to be fancy. In fact, the more sterile the feeling of the building inside the better. Like a hospital. It has a PURPOSE and should not be abused.
The city should allow within reason, access to water for basic operations and for people to shower. This would be a good thing for the community karmically if nothing else.
Priority of those accepted should first go to those who’ve already been in our community for a while. Those moving here to because it’s “Homeless Friendly” would be put on the back of the list.
Hostels are common in other countries but not so much in America. Before we go onto fixing other people’s problems, we need to fix our own. We can start right here in our own community and support those already helping others as well. There is no good reason to start a new program if there are programs already in place.
I would be willing to be on a think tank group to plan and coordinate the efforts of such a program but would not be willing to get wrapped up in legal red tape and paperwork.
I would be willing to break the law to feed the homeless and hungry. Sometimes laws are meant to be broken because they do more harm than good.