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A New California Law Could Help Eliminate Food Insecurity

A new law in San Diego could change how the U.S. deals with food waste. The law, which will go into effect at the beginning of the new year, will require grocery stores and other food suppliers to donate all edible food waste to a food rescue organization or food bank.

Studies prior to the COVID-19 pandemic estimated that 38 million people, including 12 million people, experience food insecurity. 

The new bill will allow food rescue organizations and food banks to take in more resources and allocate them to those in need. Since the bill has been passed, hundreds of grocery stores have called centers to donate food. 

“It’s something that people just weren’t realizing,” Patty O’Connor, the chief supply chain officer at Feeding San Diego, said. “First of all, how much food is wasted every day in our state and in our country, but also how it’s not that hard to donate it. If you have a process in place like we have, and you work with a food recovery organization like Feeding San Diego, Feeding America banks throughout California, it really is possible to do it.”

According to Recycle Track Systems, the U.S. discards more food than any other country — nearly 40 million tons, which is 80 billion pounds every year. That’s estimated to be 30-40% of the entire U.S. food supply. The average person wastes about 219 pounds of food a year.

More than 80 percent of America discard perfectly good and consumable food every day because of food spoilage, real or perceived. Expiration labels are easily misunderstood. Labels like “sell by,” “use by,” “expires on,”etc., are confusing to people. Many throw food away in an effort to not risk the potential of a foodborne illness.

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“Seventy percent of the food that we are distributing was donated food and as far as what we expect, that is the big question that everybody has. How much more is this going to increase?” O’Connor said.

Many hope that this new law will encourage other cities and states to implement laws that could eliminate food insecurity. However, there are many organizations and churches that are leading the fight to end food insecurity.

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