Silicon Valley Food Rescue
Helping our neighbors in need
Joint Venture Silicon Valley has created Silicon Valley Food Rescue, a sustainable system that reduces hunger and waste by rescuing edible food before it burdens landfills and distributing the surplus to people in need throughout the region.
Each year, Santa Clara County is 125 million meals short of feeding its residents in need.
What are we doing?
Silicon Valley Food Rescue has a three-pronged plan:
- A mobile food distribution model unique to this region called A La Carte! An original concept, A La Carte is a fleet of trucks resembling its trendy food truck cousins, that drive all over the region collecting surplus prepared and packaged food from corporate and university campuses, cafeterias, commissaries, and catered events for delivery directly into neighborhoods with high density populations of people in need. A La Carte offers a no-cost, normal, convenient, and dignified experience as people struggle to feed themselves and their families.
- An expansion of Grocery Rescue. Most edible food thrown into landfills comes from wholesale and retail food outlets, dairies, meat packers, food manufacturers, and farms. Silicon Valley Food Rescue hopes to form an alliance between Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties to amplify the work of Second Harvest Food Bank that currently serves both counties. A regional approach will most efficiently reduce waste and feed all residents living with daily food insecurity. Central triage centers need to be built for sorting surplus into user-friendly quantities ready for distribution to feeding agencies throughout the area.
- An organization called Silicon Valley Food Rescue Association will be formed for communication and education of food rescuers and feeding agencies. All will be encouraged to join.
The regional network approach
Joint Venture has developed partnerships with key Silicon Valley businesses, governments, and organizations. As an initiative of Joint Venture, Silicon Valley Food Rescue will benefit from greater visibility and a broad network focused on a regional problem-solving approach. As our food rescue organization grows, donations and distribution of surplus food will reach those in need more efficiently.
Businesses will also benefit with tax-deductible donations and recognition. Food donors can participate with security under congressional acts holding harmless donors of food for those in need.
Why are we doing it?
Food waste in America negatively impacts us culturally, environmentally, and financially. A recent national study found that the U.S. spends $218 billion a year growing, processing, transporting and disposing of food that is never eaten, while too many people, especially children and the elderly, go to bed hungry each night.
Recently, Congress held the first-ever hearing focused on food waste, recognizing the severity of the problem. Congress is considering the Food Recovery Act to offer increased tax incentives and financial support to facilitate the storage, transport and distribution to organizations that serve people who are food insecure.
The potential for federal maintenance and expansion by offering tax incentives for business donations will help, but will not solve the problem regionally. Potential donors need this financial incentive, but also require regional rules in the standardization of food handling safety regulations, and donor liability protections.
According to a recent Joint Venture Institute for Regional Studies research brief, “Poverty in the San Francisco Bay Area,” the poverty rate is still near record high for the area despite the tech boom. In Santa Clara County alone, more than 200,000 people are living below the official poverty line. In fact, overall one in six Bay Area residents is food insecure.
Even with Federal food stamps, and the best efforts of all the current donors of surplus food and nonprofit food recovery and distribution organizations, over 125 million additional meals are needed annually for people living with daily food insecurity in Santa Clara county.
Hunger affects individuals, children, seniors, and veterans. Whether homeless, living in vehicles, or struggling to pay rent in unaffordable housing, many are unable to make ends meet. Access to fresh and prepared food is critical.
With so many hungry and so much waste, locally and nationally, surplus food recovery and distribution is absolutely essential!
The 2015 Santa Clara County study, “Food Rescue Services, Barriers and Recommendations,” calls for new ideas to develop a systems approach to reduce food waste and improve the quality of life for food insecure families. The study emphasized the need for innovation that respects and enhances the outstanding efforts by many organizations already trying to alleviate hunger in Silicon Valley.
Enter…Silicon Valley Food Rescue!
About A La Carte
A La Carte is the innovative regional approach to the rescue of prepared foods, while an enhanced grocery rescue plan encompassing two counties tackles the gross amounts of fresh food diverted from landfills to feed those in need.
A La Carte, an initiative of Joint Venture, is being funded in part by CalRecycle’s Food Waste Prevention and Rescue Grant Program, a subset of California Climate Investments. CalRecycle funds will pay for our first truck in the A La Carte fleet, operated in Santa Clara County. California Climate Investments is a statewide program that puts billions of Cap-and-Trade dollars to work reducing greenhouse gas emissions, strengthening the economy and improving public health and the environment – particularly in low income and disadvantaged communities. The Cap-and-Trade program also creates a financial incentive for industries to invest in clean technologies and develop innovative ways to reduce pollution. For more information, visit California Climate Investments.
Joint Venture partnered with Santa Clara County to fund and develop a food rescue system for Silicon Valley. The steering committee guiding this initiative includes representatives from Second Harvest Food Bank, Martha’s Kitchen, Hunger at Home, several cities, Santa Clara County, as well as JVSV board members Diane Doolittle (Juniper Systems), Eric Houser (Wells Fargo), and Dr. Dennis Jacobs (Santa Clara University).
- After months of networking, we co-hosted the Inaugural Silicon Valley Food Recovery Forum in March 2016 with over 100 leaders of food recovery and distribution organizations.
- In September of 2017, Nancy Fishman accepted the position of Executive Director of Silicon Valley Food Rescue. As the founder of metropolitan Detroit’s nationally recognized Forgotten Harvest food rescue program, she was poised to bring this initiative to scale, serving millions of meals to Silicon Valley’s most vulnerable population that would have otherwise been sent to the landfill.
- Nancy has since completed her work here at Joint Venture and in August of 2018 she passed the reigns on to Robin Franz Martin who is serving as the new director of the initiative. Read Robin's Bio.
Where do I find out more?
To learn more about the Silicon Valley Food Rescue initiative, please contact:
Thank you for your partnership with Silicon Valley Food Rescue. You are an important part of the solution. We help because we can!