March 22, 2016 — The County of Santa Clara Recycling and Waste Reduction Division is launching a new initiative to reduce significant food waste and eradicate hunger in Silicon Valley. The County has designated Silicon Valley Talent Partnership (SVTP) and Joint Venture Silicon Valley to lead this initiative as the Food Rescue Coordinator. The new initiative kicks off March 24 with the first Silicon Valley Food Rescue Forum.
“The County of Santa Clara is proud to partner with Silicon Valley Talent Partnership and Joint Venture Silicon Valley to lessen food waste in our community,” said Supervisor Mike Wasserman, County of Santa Clara Board of Supervisors, and member of the County of Santa Clara Recycling and Waste Reduction Commission. “We have tremendous confidence that together we can reduce hunger in Santa Clara County while diverting prepared food and organics from landfills. This is a win-win for all.”
“Joint Venture’s mission to convene organizations and community leaders to solve our region’s important challenges is exemplified by this partnership,” said Russell Hancock, president and CEO of Joint Venture Silicon Valley. “We are pleased to join the coalition to help alleviate hunger and minimize food waste in Silicon Valley.”
The program, launched with a three-year seed funding of $280,000, will establish a Regional Food Rescue Working Group (RFRWG) and fund the initial creation of a strategic plan that will develop tactics for: increasing the capacity of food assistance groups to adequately rescue and redistribute food within Santa Clara County; researching gaps for food assistance programs, food access barriers, and opportunities for vulnerable populations; increasing nutritious food donations; developing food source reduction outreach and assistance to businesses and residents to reduce the over purchasing and overproduction of food; and implementing RFRWG recommendations.
“This is an exciting opportunity to expand and develop innovative food access programs in Santa Clara County that will make a difference by feeding hungry families in our community,” said President Dave Cortese, County of Santa Clara Board of Supervisors.
Over 34 million pounds of edible food is discarded in local landfills, according to Food Rescue Services, Barriers, and Recommendations in Santa Clara County, a 2015 report commissioned by the Recycling and Waste Reduction Commission of Santa Clara County. Meanwhile 1 in 3 children in Santa Clara and San Mateo counties is at risk of hunger.
“The new program will bring together the region’s vast network of nonprofit, government and private sector organizations to develop solutions for Silicon Valley’s hunger and food waste issues,” said Amy Brown, Director, Santa Clara County Consumer and Environmental Protection Agency. “Long term, and with future funding from partners, we want to increase the regional capacity and infrastructure for food rescue and redistribution efforts.”
The Food Rescue Forum is the first step toward developing a community action plan to establish an enhanced regional framework for recovering and distributing surplus food. Both the working group and attendees at the Food Rescue Forum will use Food Rescue Services, Barriers, and Recommendations in Santa Clara County report as a starting point to discuss and prioritize recommendations for reducing food waste and hunger. The report identifies some of the barriers and gaps in getting surplus food to those most in need and offers suggestions for addressing those barriers and gaps.
The working group will include stakeholders from a broad range of public and private sectors including local officials, food service businesses, technology companies, food rescue and assistance groups, academia, waste management, community representatives, public health, environmental groups, foundations and others.
“When I was Mayor of San Jose and first envisioning organizations that incorporated public-private relationships into civic initiatives, this was the scope I had in mind,” remarked former Co-Chair of Joint Venture and current Board Chair of SVTP Chuck Reed. ”Leveraging Silicon Valley’s world-class talent and people to solve these entrenched and intractable problems is precisely what I believe this partnership can accomplish.”
Silicon Valley Talent Partnership has already been very active in promoting and facilitating Feeding Silicon Valley, a successful cross-sectional solution to sourcing surplus food and equipment and placing it into regional non-profits to distribute to those in need.
“Through our experience working with multi-sector organizations to leverage Silicon Valley’s innovation to rescue food and solve hunger issues in one of the richest regions of the world, this partnership can not only make Food Rescue as ubiquitous as recycling is today, we can position Santa Clara County as the leader and vanguard of national food rescue efforts,” said Lea King, the Executive Director of SVTP.
Combining the managerial, organizational, administrative and technical expertise of SVTP with the network, research and foundational breadth of Joint Venture will provide a regionally unprecedented collaboration of public and private talent to both guide and manage the County’s food rescue efforts.
About Recycling and Waste Reduction Commission of Santa Clara
The Recycling and Waste Reduction Commission’s mission is to conserve, protect and preserve the environmental resources of our community through advocacy, education and outreach programs; to reuse, reduce, recycle and intelligently dispose of waste materials; and to promote composting, pollution and waste prevention and sustainable living practices for all the people in Santa Clara County.
About Silicon Valley Talent Partnership
Silicon Valley Talent Partnership is a non-profit 501c(3) created to leverage Silicon Valley’s regional talent and sources of innovation from the private sector, nonprofits and universities in order to assist local government to advance key strategic objectives, maximize resources, enhance the effectiveness of service delivery to the public, and create a replicable model that can be implemented across Silicon Valley.
About Joint Venture Silicon Valley
Joint Venture Silicon Valley provides analysis and action on issues affecting our region's economy and quality of life. The organization brings together established and emerging leaders—from business, government, academia, labor and the broader community—to spotlight issues and work toward innovative solutions.