Every day at the Food Bank is Earth Day as we recycle aluminum cans, glass and plastic bottles, paper bags, plastic bags, shrink wrap and cardboard. But what we do best is help to reduce food waste. Here are some examples:
1. We work with several grocery stores and large food companies that give us their product as it approaches an expiration date. It can be bread, fresh produce, meat or nonperishable items. Why throw it away when they can give the food to us and we can get it out to people in need. The product is still good but the store wants to move their product along so we help them reduce their own food waste.
2. We welcome fresh produce from people’s yards as that helps us have more fresh produce for those in need. In the last month we have received thousands of pounds of grapefruit, oranges and lemons not to mention some home grown lettuce and other greens.
3. We pay a reduced price for our purchased produce so that we can buy more and make our money go further. Our fresh produce is not as pretty as you would find in a store but we say it tastes just as good if not better! Because of the reduced price, we often find oranges that are split open or apples that are very badly bruised. We no longer have to throw the bad produce into our garbage as we have choices of what to do with it:
- The Oakland Zoo purchases fresh produce for their animals. We contacted them over three years ago and found out they would be very pleased to have our discards. We say we give them the “best of the bad” as they need produce that is not moldy or not been broken open. The bison love our badly bruised apples and the elephants are happy to eat our overly soft oranges.
- Loma Vista Farm in Vallejo (an educational farm definitely worth visiting) not only uses apples for Oreo and Keebler, the cows, they will compost any produce the farm animals won’t eat (oranges are not that popular with the animals).
- A local pig farmer says his pigs love our bad apples (and they don’t mind if they are moldy, broken open or badly bruised). We even provide him grain through our “Piggy Potluck” project. Sometimes we receive food drive products that are far past expiration and we can’t give that to those in need. So we take the dry products such as pasta, rice, dry beans, jello, cake mixes, and moldy bread and open the packages and mix all of the dry products together. The pig farmer will add water to this dry product which will then serve as grain for the pigs. We recycle all of the plastic and cardboard packaging so we not only are feeding pigs, we are reducing our garbage.
One of our friends in all that we do is Jennifer from Allied Waste in Pacheco. Jennifer says “We should be recycling for the earth’s sake”. And at the end of the day it is the right thing to do and makes us all feel good. Just like reading our Food Bank news online, you too are making a change to reduce our footprint on earth.