San Diego Food System Alliance: Food Waste Solution Summit

As the fiscal sponsor for the San Diego Food System Alliance, we are thrilled with the success of the Alliance's Food Waste Solution Summit held on October 6th. The event sold out and had close to 130 individuals in attendance. The Alliance convened a wide range of stakeholders to help connect the dots and brainstorm solutions around addressing food waste in San Diego county.

The event kicked off with an introduction on why the San Diego Food System Alliance Food Recovery Working Group organized this summit by Richard Winkler, Co-Director of Victory Gardens San Diego. Dr. Dean Sidelinger, the emcee of the summit and Child Health Medical Officer for the County of San Diego, spoke about the medical impacts of food insecurity, particularly as it relates to children. Then, Michael Wonsidler, Program Coordinator for Solid Waste Planning & Recycling Section of County of San Diego, provided further context on food waste issues. Michael also shared the EPA's Food Recovery Pyramid and Ramona Unified School District's case study.

There was also a brief introduction of the San Diego Food System Alliance Food Recovery Working Group which organized the summit. The group has been collecting data around the scale of food waste in San Diego county, identifying stakeholders to bring to the table, researching best practices, and catalyzing collaborative projects.  Burgeoning programs/ projects highlighted:

  1. Food Cycle aims to connect waste generators (or wasted food donors) to recipients (food pantries, composting sites, etc). The program will be managed by Solana Center for Environmental Innovation.

  2. Food recovery program at Sweetwater School District (with a pilot starting in Southwest High School)

The attendees split up into two tracks: Track 1 was a Peer Collaboration session for food recovery and recycling groups and Track 2 was a panel discussion on City of San Diego food waste practice case studies (moderated by Ana Carvalho from City of San Diego). Attendees from both tracks identified strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities/ needs to expand best practices. They also identified their unique organizational strengths  and continued networking/ knowledge sharing during the "Resource Matching Fair".

The closing keynote speaker was Dr. Emily Young, VP of Community Impact of the San Diego Foundation. She spoke about the connectivity between food waste, our food system, and climate change. Thank you to San Diego Foundation for supporting efforts to impact the food system in San Diego!