Food Finders News

Awareness + Action = Impact

September is Hunger Awareness Month, and as the month kicked off, we found ourselves still addressing high levels of food insecurity due to Covid. People are seriously struggling in many communities to put food on the table–1 in 6 people are going hungry every day just in California alone.

You may not know any of those people, but our drivers and volunteers see them every day. And our staff receives calls from individuals asking, “Do you give out food, or Where can I go that does?”

Here are two stories from our nonprofit partners who saw firsthand the impact of COVID:

“We never stopped through Covid, and because of your wonderful organization, we were able to feed all displaced shelter guests. We gloved up, masked up and gowned up to deliver 137,000 meals in 11 months to the sick, the elderly, and families living out of motels. That was 6 days a week, 3 meals a day and a snack and water–literally we stepped in and helped these souls survive. It was Food Finders !! It was you and our hands and feet!” – Lighthouse Outreach in Costa Mesa.

“We were able to serve hundreds of youths and their families throughout summer and beyond. The Food Finders donations ensured we could provide fresh produce boxes to families, some we’ve never seen before, along with other nonperishable items as well. Thank you so much!” – YMCA in Greater Long Beach

We are hopeful amid health and economic uncertainties that, before end of year, our communities and residents will see a return to pre-pandemic levels of hunger or better, which is not to say hunger will go away. Food Finders is still a much needed, crucial resource to hundreds of nonprofits daily.

The GREAT news is that you can do something impactful. Even if you help just one person, knowing they made it through another day without going hungry is a good place to start. We encourage everyone to read and share about our latest list of 4 Ways To Donate Without Spending Extra, and to also consider getting friends or coworkers involved in raising funds, particularly on Thursday for Long Beach Gives or in November for Giving Tuesday. Everything helps!

If you would like to make an impact on reducing food waste and hunger help us grow our food rescue operations: Donate

#foodfindersinc  #FoodRescue #reducehunger #foodrecovery #Volunteer #Charity #helpfoodinsecurecommunities #HelpEndHunger #EndHunger #fightinghunger #rescuingfood #Donate #makeanimpact

READ MORE
Food Finders News

The Learning Starts Now: Preventing Waste in Back-to-School Lunches

Summer has ended and schools have opened their doors to eager students (and parents!). It’s time to trade in the zoom classroom and at-home lunches, for a full blown in-person school experience that we’ve all been waiting for. It’s probably been a while since you thought about packing a lunch bag, so let us help you get started!  There are a multitude of ways that you can make your child’s lunch fun, yummy yet nutritious, and environmentally friendly.

The average American family throws out approximately 300 pounds of food a year, which equates to about $2,200. The easiest, yet most overlooked, method to help reduce this waste is meal planning. Planning out what food you need for the week before making your grocery store run can help you avoid any impulse purchases or overestimating quantity (which saves money!). If meal planning sounds time consuming and difficult to manage, there are apps available, such as MealBoard, that help you stay organized and on top of your schedule.

Bento lunch boxes are another method found to be useful for preventing waste. Their design provides separate sections that can be specified for a certain type of food. Having different sections makes the food not only look more appealing, but last longer and taste better. No kid wants to eat a sandwich that is squished against their fruit. Therefore, keeping them separate and fresh will likely encourage them to eat both! So many companies have taken on the bento- style of lunch boxes and added their own spin on them. One of the more popular brands is Bentgo, a lightweight, portable, stylish choice also safe for the environment. A key selling point—using ONE Bentgo consistently can keep 540 plastic sandwich bags out of our landfills each year!

In addition to our individual efforts, it is important to recognize the amazing work schools are doing to prevent waste and reduce hunger. Several schools in LA county have incorporated a Share Table Program where students can offer up their unopened food or drinks that they choose not to consume. This allows other students to add additional items to their lunch or snack, eliminating extra food waste. The act of sharing alone demonstrates how unwanted food does not have to be wasted. What may be undesirable for one child can be a treat for another.

Following these simple yet effective tips can make drastic improvement in not only your community, but your personal life as well! Additionally, if you know of a local school that would like to donate their overages, we will gladly pick up and redistribute those milks, apple slices and other unserved items and deliver to grateful after school centers and others who can ensure nothing goes to waste. Food Finders is here to help!

If you would like to make an impact on reducing food waste and hunger help us grow our food rescue operations: Donate

#foodfindersinc  #FoodRescue #reducehunger #foodrecovery #Volunteer #Charity #helpfoodinsecurecommunities #HelpEndHunger #EndHunger #fightinghunger #rescuingfood #Donate #makeanimpact

READ MORE
Food Finders News

You’ve Got $1600 Right In Your Fridge!

About twenty or so years ago, when Food Network was first gaining traction, they featured a show called Door Knock Dinners, where the chef/host would “surprise” a family at random and demonstrate how to combine, for example, a head of cauliflower, two chicken breasts, basil that’s about to go bad and a cup of leftover beans in their fridge or pantry into a delicious meal. It was great inspiration for getting creative with ingredients on hand. It also, if indirectly, encouraged reducing food waste, which according to statistics is most prevalent at the consumer level.

Food Waste, even with smart fridges and grocery shopping apps at our disposal (pun intended), still remains an issue to the point that the USDA estimates each household throws out an average of $1600 worth of food per year. That’s at least another couple month’s-worth of groceries! Most people would like to think they are intentional shoppers, but even fastidious households or family cooks wind up with wilted lettuce or forgotten mashed potatoes at the back of their fridge at some point. In some cases, a good food storage set-up can make a world, and wallet-full, of difference, but there’s yet another challenge we face when it comes to reducing food waste.

Food labels and dates continue to be a bit of a consumer conundrum. We mostly use smell and taste tests at home, and when you see mold on your yogurt, probably best to toss it. But what do the best by, sell by, use by dates all mean? There’s no actual USDA federal regulation on any of it, but some states have their own standards in place. California passed a law that helps align with major food trade organizations in reducing confusion and offering consistent label definitions. One helpful resource is EatByDate, which provides guidelines of how long common perishable foods should last, and an alternate comprehensive list includes shelf-stable items.

So, while we’ve basically mastered how long our eggs, milk, and lunch are good for, there are always new products hitting the market that present a bit of a learning curve on shelf life, like meat-replacement patties, non-dairy milks, pressed juices, and others. A general rule of thumb for many of these is 3-5 days after opening, but that can vary.

The overall key in reducing food waste is careful planning, and in the best of circumstances, having a compost system in place to capture scraps so they get a second life.

As a food vendor, manufacturer, distributor, or producer, it’s important to know that donating food—whether edible but past it’s sell by or best by date, slightly damaged but still good, or purely an overproduction–is always an option. By January 2022, California businesses will need to address their food overages in order to comply with SB1383, which we’ll cover in another blog, so donating should be on everyone’s radar.

Meanwhile, Food Finders encourages you to share about our Food Rescue Program with friends, associates and business partners, so we can ensure that beyond the consumer level, everyone is doing their part to reduce food waste.

If you would like to make an impact on reducing food waste and hunger help us grow our food rescue operations: Donate

#foodfindersinc  #FoodRescue #reducehunger #foodrecovery #Volunteer #Charity #helpfoodinsecurecommunities #HelpEndHunger #EndHunger #fightinghunger #rescuingfood #Donate #makeanimpact

READ MORE
Food Finders News

Making The Most Impact With Your Charitable Giving

Ask just about any nonprofit what they need funding for most, and it would very likely be General Operating support. It’s sort of the ongoing push and pull with any development team within a nonprofit to find a balance where you can both please your constituents who donate and sustain your business, because a nonprofit is a business that still has the usual expenses as a for-profit—rents, salaries, utilities, IT costs—and those are also the least appealing expenses to many funders.

What is most appealing of course are the programs, usually whatever is tied to a nonprofit’s mission. In the case of Food Finders, it’s our food rescue program, which is our core effort, along with our sub-programs such as feeding kids, hosting food hubs and providing nutrition education. These direct extensions of our goal to eliminate hunger and food waste provide the positive outcomes that we are more than happy to share. It’s the reward that makes us all feel good about working for, volunteering at, and supporting the organization.

But how can a nonprofit sustain its programs if it can’t afford the rent or the program manager’s salary? Like we sometimes say, we can’t pay our electric bill with a case of donated bananas, so it takes a diverse stream of revenue to keep our programs going and growing.

And then there’s the other side of the matter, which is the ever-changing financial climate. Some years, interest levels and income plummet from investments, and nonprofits that prosper from robust contributions based on investment income are left scrambling to rethink their fundraising plans. Foundations that might have generously donated in years past may have to limit their grantmaking or individuals with previously thriving portfolios might rethink their charitable giving.

In 2020, the economic recession that nobody saw coming due to a pandemic left analysts predicting that a third of nonprofits would close. The actual outcome is still being determined, but while many nonprofits that focused on human services saw an increase of emergency support, others suffered setbacks as their programs were made less of a priority, particularly those in the arts or education. Of those that stayed open, a huge percentage were heavily burdened with increased demand.

So, what makes supporting nonprofits a Win-Win, for the donor and organization? Consider these options:

–Join a monthly giving program to spread your dollars across the year and allow them to be spent as needed, like The Share Table. You’ll still receive a charitable deduction come tax time.

–Set up a Donor Advised Fund, a tax benefit that can include cash, stock and other assets as designated.

–Designate funding as Unrestricted, so a nonprofit can spend the dollars prudently where they are most needed and fill in any gaps that program-directed funds don’t cover.

Corporate sponsorships are always welcome, along with employee giving campaigns, which benefit a company’s image and morale while showing the community some local support via the charity of choice.

Bottom line, it’s important is to know your dollars are wisely earned and spent, and transparency is key, which is why one of Food Finders’ core values is Integrity. For a good source on where to cast your philanthropic net, consider Charity Navigator, which provides current ratings and complete financial profiles of hundreds of nonprofits.

If you would like to make an impact on reducing food waste and hunger help us grow our food rescue operations: Donate

#foodfindersinc  #FoodRescue #reducehunger #foodrecovery #Volunteer #Charity #helpfoodinsecurecommunities #HelpEndHunger #EndHunger #fightinghunger #rescuingfood #Donate #makeanimpact

READ MORE
Food Finders News

A Steady Stream Will Fill The Gaps

In the nonprofit world, one of the primary challenges seems to be how to sustain an organization’s programs, which ultimately means the resources and revenue stream that fuels them. Some nonprofits serve strictly local areas, some national and others are global in reach, and their budgets flex according to need, economic climate, and growth. Certainly, it’s essential to find your niche as a nonprofit, have a clear mission and then do what you say you’re going to do, and being good stewards of income is essential, especially to retain donors.

Foundations and corporations are two wonderful revenue sources, and most have a specific interest or philanthropical focus–education, arts, racial justice, health and well-being or food security, to name a few–while some support more than one area. Sometimes corporations will match donations, resulting in an even larger financial impact as they support individual employees’ diverse charitable interests.

While grants and corporate funding are wonderful sources of revenue, it tends to ebb and flow depending on fiscal cycles, investment income, stakeholder preferences and imminent need, such as with Covid-19. Likewise, some nonprofits have cyclical, short-term projects or capital campaigns that solicit one-time or large donations. More commonly, nonprofits have ongoing programs that require year-round support, so recurring donations are vital.

Food Finders operates several ongoing programs, with its Food Rescue Program being core to its mission. In 32 years, that program has grown from a kitchen table effort to a multi-regional operation that wouldn’t be possible without a diverse stream of income. However, as most people know, the program runs daily, not just during holidays, school days or summer. So, not quite ten years ago we launched an individual monthly giving program to ensure those being served would be able to eat at the end of February or March, like when their paycheck ran out, just as well as during Thanksgiving. Hunger doesn’t take a holiday.

Recently, we rebranded our monthly giving program to The Share Table. This new name and brand embodies one of our core values, Community, inviting people to participate in a way that is meaningful and that embraces a shared passion and commitment to giving that in turn allows Food Finders to carry on our mission of reducing hunger efficiently and effectively. A Share Table membership comes with some added perks as well, which includes recognition on our website, and soon, in our office foyer!

Andrew Maxwell is one of our latest members and a special needs teacher with LAUSD who started volunteering at Food Finders last year during the pandemic. With class instruction being online, he had some extra time on his hands to donate. He shared, “I saw through the school how meals were essential for the students and how much hunger was an issue, so I chose Food Finders because of their mission. I like what you do, and I like that there are multiple ways to volunteer.”  Now that students and staff are returning to campus, The Share Table was a perfect way for Andrew to continue giving back monetarily when he couldn’t give his time.

We encourage others who want to become involved as Andrew did, to give monthly as well. When you sign up, it’s automatic, environmentally friendly, and convenient–you don’t have to remember each month to write a check and find a stamp or to go online. Your gift is deeply appreciated. And if your employer does match, even better! Then after you sign up, share about it with a friend.

For questions about The Share Table, contact Veronica, vtashakor@foodfinders.org.

If you would like to make an impact on reducing food waste and hunger help us grow our food rescue operations: Donate

#foodfindersinc  #FoodRescue #reducehunger #foodrecovery #Volunteer #Charity #helpfoodinsecurecommunities #HelpEndHunger #EndHunger #fightinghunger #rescuingfood #Donate #makeanimpact

READ MORE
Support Food Finders and Give #MoreThanJustFood

Your support of Food Finders provides more than just food- it provides time spent cooking together, reconnecting with friends or family, creating a long-lasting memory, tradition and much more. Make a donation this December and provide someone in need with #MoreThanJustFood.