“What will success in food recovery look like in five years?” On March 24th, the Silicon Valley Food Rescue Committee posed this question to 100 invited stakeholders, gathered for a day-long forum in San Jose, CA. This was the region’s first coordinated effort to solve the problem of food waste in the Santa Clara County area, located south of San Francisco.
As Program Director of Community Food Rescue (CFR), a program of Manna Food Center, I was honored to share our own program and process developed in Montgomery County, Maryland.
What will success in food recovery look like in five years?
My presentation was geared to help participants develop their own food recovery Action Plan, a process similar to the one that CFR has implemented over the last two years.
The five core components of CFR that I shared with the audience were:
- Food safety guidelines and protocols developed in close collaboration with the Department of Health and Human Services.
- Capacity building mini-grants awarded to food assistance agencies for infrastructure like freezers, refrigerators, trucks, and storage, as well as job creation.
- Matching-tool software and a mobile app called, Chowmatch, so that food businesses can easily match with food assistance organizations and volunteer food runners to transport food.
- Education and resources shared through CFR’s website, e-newsletter, blog posts, videos and social media.
- Recognition program to celebrate our network participants.
The Silicon Valley Forum attendees were particularly interested in CFR’s close collaboration with the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), recognizing the importance of having uniform food safety protocols and working with agencies that serve recovered food They also appreciated the need to align the values of the various non-profit organizations in order to attract private funding and to have a collective impact.
When an attendee asked me how best to get a food recovery effort started, I offered simply, “collaboration.” Then elaborating, I said, “True collaboration means aligning an organization’s individual goals with broader collective goals. By tapping into the synergy of collaboration, food recovery becomes more efficient, more effective, and better able to accomplish a shared vision. It is, of course, easier said than done. With Manna’s leadership and our stakeholder partners we’ve seen how individual efforts have transformed into a real network.”
It was inspiring to witness Silicon Valley’s first steps in creating their regional food recovery system. While all communities have both common and unique needs, it is always good for each of us to consider: “What will success in food recovery look like?”