Join Food Finders for the largest sustainability-focused event of the year in Long Beach. The Green Generation Showcase will be held on Thursday, April 20th from 4-7pm at the Earl Burns Miller Japanese Garden and we hope you can be there!
Last year, more than 450 students, faculty, university staff, and Long Beach community members gathered for a fun evening featuring live music and a display of sustainability-themed student and faculty research and creative projects.
We hope you will join other campus and local organizations, community groups and green businesses to share your resources and initiatives with an engaged community. Our whole team would be delighted to add Food Finders to our list of participants for what promises to be an inspiring night.
Earl Burns Miller Japanese Garden 1250 Bellflower Boulevard Long Beach, CA90840 United States
According to the FDA, an estimated 30% to 40% of the food supply is wasted in the United States. This is a problem for several reasons. First of all, it costs a lot of money—more than $400 billion in 2019, according to ReFed. In addition, all the water, energy, and labor used to produce this wasted food could have been reallocated for consumption instead of lost. That means that we could not only be saving water and the environment, but helping to feed food insecure people as well.
As a full-time Nutrition and Dietetics student and intern at Food Finders, nutrition and reducing hunger and food waste are essential to my life. In my junior year at California State, Long Beach, I learned how many people in the United States go to bed hungry every night, so many of them are children, and my heart broke. I knew then that my passion for nutrition and eating for wellness was not all I would devote my time to.
Planning Reduce Food Waste
I have found out that most people are not aware of how throwing away food is changing our planet. Since working with Food Finders, A food rescue organization in Southern California, I have learned that reducing the amount of food that goes into landfills would help address climate change. I know that sounds crazy, but it is true! Food waste that decomposes in landfills releases methane—a greenhouse gas nearly 30 times as potent as carbon dioxide. And since 20% of U.S. methane emissions come from landfills, reducing food waste in landfills would help lessen methane emissions and improve our planet.
How can you help? PLAN.
Just by planning out meals each week, in most cases, I can prevent food waste in my home. Having meals, fresh fruits, and vegetables ready for a busy week is a great feeling. I know how life is. We get busy and forget what is in the refrigerator. Maybe they order pizza at work and your delicious leftovers go bad. It always made me feel bad to throw away a good meal but now that I know I am hurting planet earth too–well, we can all be better.
One of the ways I reduce my overall waste and save on my grocery bill is to plan out meals, cook them, and package them up for lunches and dinner throughout the week.
I just love the feeling of getting in my home, tired, hungry and opening up the fridge to a choice of delicious meals already prepped and ready to eat.
Avoiding Disaster: FREEZE ‘EM
It is super easy to forget fruits and veggies and when they go bad, it is fast! So I use the freezer to help me reduce food waste. I like to freeze most of my fruits for future use in smoothies, spreads, and salad dressings. I place the fruit in vacuum-sealed bags and label and dated them (you can also use zip lock bags but be sure to remove as much air as possible).
On those weeks when I have prepped and planned my meals and realize that I am not going to be able to eat them all I prefer to reach out to my neighbors. Most of them know I am nutrition student and now a #FoodWasteHero (who is mindful not to throw good food away) so they will usually take the meals off my hand. Before I started working with Food Finders, I usually didn’t have a backup plan in case they couldn’t use them. Now I am a member of a social media group that is all about giving and receiving for free. It is where I have witnessed the kindest of strangers cooking hot meals for group members in need and giving away perishables and non-perishable foods. It makes my heart happy to see my community in action.
Making A Plan
Start by writing out a grocery list with all the recipes you will cook this week. Not only will this save on your grocery bills, but it makes shopping faster. Next, have a prep day and cook everything you need, dividing portions into containers. Sometimes you can freeze meals, depending on what you are preparing for the week. Households throw away 43% of all the food that ends up in landfills in the United States. That is a horrible statistic and one that is very preventable with planning.
Get the whole family involved in the planning, prepping, and packaging. You might be surprised at how fun and easy it can be to #stopfoodwaste and help save the planet.
Kelly Alarcon is a full-time student and Intern at Food Finders, Inc.
As a full-time Nutrition and Dietetics student and intern at Food Finders, nutrition and reducing hunger and food waste are an important part of my life. I learned in my junior year of school at California State, Long Beach how many people in the United States go to bed hungry every night, so many of them children, and my heart broke. I knew then that my passion for nutrition and eating for wellness was not all I was passionate about.
I realized that in addition to my love of nutrition, my knack for meal planning and shopping on a limited budget was something that could play a big part in helping people to reduce food waste. The question for me was how could I combine these two skills and make a bigger impact?
Food Waste is a Problem
Food waste is a huge problem in the United States with the vast majority of waste occurring in the home. Poor planning and expiration dates on the food we purchase are large contributors. Many would rather toss food they aren’t sure about, which affects the environment and wastes billions of gallons of water each and every month.
Food Finders is an amazing solution to the food waste problem. They have a mission to “eliminate hunger and food waste” through the rescue of food in Southern California, and then they repurpose that food through a network of local community partners. I especially like the final part of their mission: “…while improving nutrition in food insecure communities.”
That is why I am an intern and a Nutrition Talks Educator with them. I have seen some amazing things while working here and for me, the most impressive is that last year, in 2021 they rescued 15,917,982 pounds of food!
Food that became over 13 million meals.
Resources and Education
We are working hard to provide education and resources that explain not only how to properly store food but how to interpret the various expiration dates we see on food such as “use by”, ‘sell by” etc.
The FoodKeepers application supported by the USDA is a great resource to help people sort through the confusing world of labels and dates. It can help you not only interpret the varying expiration date labels but can also explain the best storage methods for various foods to reduce waste.
Meal planning is one of the biggest ways that all of us can stop food waste. Who hasn’t gone to the grocery store hungry and bought more than they needed?
When you plan your meals, or even just your shopping, it reduces food waste. And don’t forget that planning ahead is also easy on your wallet–a big plus! Planning your meals for the week and then creating your shopping list based on your meals can cut food waste by 15% or more. Imagine if we all did that?!
Tip For Cutting Food Waste
Shop the grocery store weekly ads. With the cost of food up by 25% or more, finding proteins that are on sale that week is where I start my meal planning.
DO NOT go to the store hungry. Going grocery shopping hungry guarantees I will buy some overpriced and over-processed snacks that I promptly eat on the way home. This not only takes me out of budget but is unhealthy.
I stick to your list that coordinates with the meals you want to make for the week.
Prepare your fruits and veggies for the week–so they don’t go bad. If I have salads planned I pre-cut and wash my lettuce, carrots, red cabbage, and cucumbers. I also wash and cut up any melons or fruit for the week as well. Doing this makes busy weeks easier and allows for a nutritious snack of fruit that is easy to grab.
Nutrition Talks Program
This is all information I use when in a Nutrition Talk event with one of our partner agencies. I do a basic overview of nutrition and its importance with interactive tools that keep people engaged in what they are learning. One example is my Nutrition Facts Label workshop which starts with a scavenger hunt looking for a pantry item with a nutrition facts label and ties up with a Q & A on what was learned. This coming week’s talk will also have Isabel Gallegos, my supervisor and co-creator of the Nutrition Talks Program. We will be looking in the partner agencies’ refrigerators and pantries to create a meal with what they have deemed as surplus foods that they have indicated typically go to waste. It is an eye-opening event!
This is just one more of what Food Finders does to reduce hunger and food waste. It isn’t enough that we are getting food into the hands of those who are in need but also to educate them on the many nutrient-dense meals that can be created while reducing waste.
Kelly Alarcon, a Student at California State University, Long Beach with a concentration in Nutrition and Dietetics has a passion for showing others the path to wellness through nutrition while reducing hunger and food waste. https://www.linkedin.com/in/kelly-alarcon-194313220/
Have you ever wondered what healthy eating looks like for the 38 million Americans currently facing food insecurity?
In response to SB1383, food recovery and donation programs are in full swing, in an effort to reduce organic waste. As more and more grocery stores, schools, and other food generators scramble to establish their food donation programs, nonprofits gather to secure more resources to feed their communities. Food Finders is addressing food scarcity through programs that go beyond providing a meal for a moment or a day. Through our Nutrition Talks program, we are working directly with food insecure individuals to provide nutritional education and resources to promote healthy lifestyles and prevent further organic waste.
More Than Reducing Hunger
Our Nutrition Talks Program, co-created and led by our Nutrition Education intern, Kelly Alarcon is available to any one of our nonprofit partners, free of cost. Kelly is in her third year at Cal State University Long Beach, studying Nutrition & Dietetics. Kelly has been leading Nutrition Talks since the start of 2022 and agrees that “securing food is crucial but the need does not end there.” Together, Kelly and I have presented our educational program to several nonprofit partners ranging from sober living residentials to affordable housing organizations. It is evident that more can and should be done in the fight to reduce hunger.
Providing individuals who experience food scarcity with tools to better understand their health and eating habits, we have been able to better assess the impact rescued food has on nutrition, lifestyle, and sustainability practices. In addition to education, we offer tips for healthy eating on a budget and have even added a cooking demo component that works to put those healthy habits into practice.
Although our talks aim to highlight the benefits of choosing fruit and vegetables over chips and cookies, many emergency relief boxes and grocery store donations do not offer the kind of fresh and nutritionally dense foods that would be optimal for making better choices. For this reason, our presentations are designed to give our partners and their residents the opportunity to bring their questions and concerns about food donation quality and recovery practices into an open forum for discussion.
Q & As
During one of our Q&As, we received inspiring feedback from a resident of our nonprofit partner, Recovery Community Cares who implored food generators donating to please, “give from your hearts and give a donation of quality and dignity.” We would like to thank our partners who have already donated with this message in mind. Whether it be food, resources, your time, or financial contribution, every bit counts towards reducing hunger and environmental waste. To every partner of ours who has welcomed our Nutrition Talks into their programming, we want to thank you for providing more for your clients.
The Nutrition Talks Program is something that we are very proud of at Food Finders. Part of our mission is to improve nutrition in food insecure communities and this program is one way that we can provide more than just a meal.
For more information on how to become a donor, volunteer, or funder, please visit the following links:
To join our Share Table, please contact our Fund Development Director, Lisa Hoffmaster (562) 283-1400 (Ext. 103)
If you are a Non-profit operating in Southern California and would like to host a Nutritional Talk you must be a registered nonprofit and partner with Food Finders, Inc. For more information please contact Isabel Gallegos, at (562) 283-1400 Ext. 111
Isabel Gallegos, Partner Agency Manager and has worked in the community to help others gain access to rights and tools to reach their highest potential. Connect with her on LinkedIn.
Food For The Soul: Farm To Tableaux Event Benefiting Food Finders
WHO: Food Finders. We rescue food.
Our mission is to eliminate hunger and food waste while improving nutrition in food-insecure communities.
In 2021 Food Finders rescued enough surplus food to provide over 44,000 meals per day, but significant work still needs to be done.
WHY? When You Waste Food, You Contribute to Climate Change &Waste Tons Of Water! Supporting this event means you are making an impact by helping Food Finder’soperations coordinate the daily pick-up of surplus food–keeping it out of the landfills – taking it directly to our nonprofit partners for use or distribution the same day. In 2021, Food Finder’s operations saved 7,258,599,792 gallons of water and diverted 8,642,985 pounds of C02 Emissions. Food Finder’s solution is to use technology (an APP) to coordinate the daily pick-up of this surplus food and take it directly to our nonprofit partners for use or distribution the same day.
WHAT: Food for the Soul-Farm to Tableaux Event Benefitting Food Finders.
This one-of-a-kind event
~Feast on Farm-to-table cuisine
~Indulge in artisan cocktails
~Craft Beer and Boutique wines
~Enjoy creative Tableaux vivants
~Enter the Mystere Box Drawing
~Bid on artful Auction Items
WHEN: October 15, 2022, from 5 pm to 9 pm.
WHERE: Campus of California State University Long Beach (at “The Plant”)
Several studies show that nutrition can directly affect the mental capacity of school-aged children. For example, iron deficiency, even in early stages, can negatively impact cognition. Good Nutrition helps students show up at school prepared to learn–and learning is the foundation of how children can grow into healthy and productive adults. Because improvements in nutrition help to make students healthier, they are more likely to have fewer absences and attend class more frequently. When children are not given nutritious meals, studies show that malnutrition leads to behavior problems in the classroom.
Hunger is not just something we must look at as a social issue. It is an economic one. If we know that children can do better in school when fed nutritious food, perhaps we can see the benefit of these same children growing up to lift themselves up and out of poverty to financial independence. Food is more than just hunger, it is a vehicle to elevate entire communities.
Turning A Bag of Food Into A Meal
Kelly Alarcon, a Cal State Long Beach Nutrition student who interns at Food Finders loves to talk about the importance of having nutritious meals. She helps the Partner Agency Coordinators to receive food from our Food donors and also helps with pack and sorts for the Food 4 Kids program. The above photo was taken from one bag that was being packed up so that it could be delivered to one of the 15 Title 1 Schools in Long Beach.
Kelly asked if she could take a picture and use her nutrition skills to craft some recipes that could help families extend the meals while also providing a nutritious option. Her studies paid off!
Here is the first bag of recipes we would like to share:
Contents and Nutrition
Tuna 5.4 oz. = 2 packs 140 calories, 17g protein, 0.5g fat, 0 carbs Instant oatmeal = 2 packs 320 calories; 8 g protein, 4g fat, 66g carbs Kool Aid Juice Jammer = 1 90 calories, 0 protein, 0 fat, 24 carbs Canned corn, whole kernel = 2 120 calories; 2g protein, 2g fat, 26g carbs Black beans = 2 cans 350 calories; 24.5 g protein, 0 fat, 63 carbs Granola bar = 1 140 Calories; 3g protein, 4 g fat, 25 carbs Vegetable soup = 1 can 130 calories; 4g protein, 2.5 g fat, 22g carbs Diced tomatoes = 1 can 88 calories; 3.5 g protein, 0g fat, 17.5 g of carbs Canned fruit = 2 cans 230 calories; 0g protein, 0g fat, 59g Boxed mac n cheese = 1 box 875 Calories; 32.5g Fat, 25g protein, 118g carbs
Weekend Meals Recipes
Meal #1: Cheesy Tuna Casserole
Serves 2-3 people
Ingredients To Use: 1- Box mac n cheese 1 – Pack of tuna drained 1 – Can of corn drained
Prepare boxed mac n cheese as directed, setting aside ¼ of the noodles for another recipe, and feel free to use any milk, nut milk or water.
Mix all ingredients and serve.
Meal #2: Black Bean, Tomato and Corn Salad
Ingredients To Use: 1 – Cans of black beans drained 1 – Can of diced tomatoes drained 1 – Can of corn drained
Take all rinsed ingredients and toss in a bowl.
Season as desired
Serve hot or cold
Meal #3: Tuna and Noodle Soup with a Side of Fruit
Ingredients to Use: 1 – Cans of vegetable soup ½ Cup of water 1 – Pack of Tuna Drained 1-Can of fruit Remainder of noodles from boxed Mac n Cheese
Place all ingredients in a pot on the stove mixing and heating
Enjoy with side of fruit from the can
Meal # 4: Oatmeal with Fruit
Ingredients to Use:
2- Packs of Instant Oatmeal
1-can of fruit drained
Prepare instant oatmeal according to package directions
Cut fruit into bite size pieces and top oatmeal with it or eat as a side.
We look forward to more recipes from Kelly. If you do make any of these, please share your photos of the preparation and completed meal! Email us at email@example.com
Helping Food 4 Kids
Prior to COVID, the Food 4 Kids Program was delivering 385 bags of food every week to 15 Title 1 Long Beach Elementary Schools. In many cases, these bags of food provided families with their only weekend food option. Support from donors helped us to serve over 10,780 meals per week to families.
Long Beach Unified School District reached out to Food Finders in January with a request to restart the program and add 12 High School Student Wellness Centers to the original Title 1 Schools. Supporting this program would mean that together we can serve 21,560 meals per week by delivering over 770 bags of food to families in Long Beach. It is a good start to elevating so many families!
To Help Support the Food 4 Kids Program click here
If you would like to make an impact on reducing food waste and hunger help us grow our food rescue operations: Donate