live / 2019

Food waste prevention program

Food waste prevention program

Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Grants Challenge by Los Angeles Conservation Corps

Los Angeles Conservation Corps has operated a recycling program for more than 30 years to reduce consumer waste that goes to landfill. This past year, the Corps launched a program to divert edible food surplus from landfill and put healthy food on the tables of people in need, as well as sending inedible food waste to composting or renewable energy generation. The Corps seeks support for the training and employment of at-risk young adults from disadvantaged communities to help with collection.


What does your organization do?

We provide at-risk young adults with opportunities for success through job skills training, education, and work experience emphasizing conservation and service projects that benefit the community.

Please list the organizations collaborating on this proposal.

  • MEND
  • CalRecycle
  • Kroger
  • LA Compost

Briefly tell us a story that demonstrates how your organization turns inspiration into impact.

Thirty years of experience in recycling beverage containers, tires, used motor oil, and e-waste taught Los Angeles Conservation Corps how to look for other places where waste can be turned into opportunity. We found our chance to do our part to mend broken food systems by providing a pick-up and delivery solution, so there’s no bottleneck (and waste) waiting for businesses to transport their own food donations. We went to MEND to offer assistance with logistics. CalRecycle came on board with funding support for trucks and people to drive them. Kroger’s distribution center in Compton has an anaerobic digester that turns food waste into renewable biogas to fuel their operations. LA Compost takes inedible food waste for use in their community gardens. We just need a little more help to give at-risk young adults opportunities for training and employment while doing their part to serve the community and the environment.

Which of the live metrics will your submission impact?​

  • Access to healthy food

In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

  • San Fernando Valley

How will your project make LA the best place to live?

The Corps collects tons of food waste per week from dozens of supermarkets, convenience stores, and restaurants. Edible food is distributed by MEND to help feed 30,000 people in need per month in the San Fernando Valley. Inedible foodstuffs go to Kroger’s anaerobic digester in Compton for conversion to renewable biogas or to LA Compost for use in community gardens. Nothing goes to landfill.

The food waste prevention project serves the needy in San Fernando Valley, centering on the MEND food bank in Pacoima. Los Angeles has the largest food insecure population in America with 1.3 million residents of the County struggling to put food on the table. At MEND, 35% of clients are fully dependent upon the food bank. The residents of Pacoima are 90% Latino. It’s a low-income/disadvantaged community.

The program was awarded by CalRecycle last year and begins operations this year. It will be an ongoing program, so long as funding is available.

The program’s metrics include tonnage of food collected from donors and thus diverted from landfill, tonnage of edible food distributed to people in need, number of people served, tonnage of food waste composted or anaerobically digested. Each month, MEND serves 2,540 clients onsite and 18,520 through offsite distribution, and the Corps’ contribution enables service of 10,000 more per month.

In what stage of innovation is this project?

Pilot project (testing a new idea on a small scale to prove feasibility)

Please explain how you will define and measure success for your project.

The definition of success is satisfying statewide goals for reducing the tonnage of food waste that goes to landfill and increasing the food security of people in need in the northeast San Fernando Valley. The measures of success would be tonnage of food diverted from landfill, the tonnage of food recovered that may be distributed, the numbers of people served, and the tonnage of inedible food waste composted or converted to fuel by anaerobic digester.