Orange County has over 330,000 residents facing hunger and 1 out of 5 children are food insecure. Formed in November 2012, Waste Not OC (WNOC) is a public-private partnership with the goal of eliminating hunger and reducing food waste by facilitating the donation of surplus food from food-producing facilities to local pantries.
Waste Not OC’s mission is threefold:
1. Increase the number of restaurants and grocery stores providing food donations.
When the food industry was asked why they were resistant to donating food the response heard was loud and clear. There are concerns about liability and “the Health Department won’t let us!” The Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Act provides liability protection to food donators if the food is prepared correctly. Environmental health specialists, while performing restaurant inspections provide a one page informational sheet highlighting the Bill Emerson Act and the importance of food donations. In 2016, the Coalition members have collected over 4.8 million tons of food.
2. Identify people in need.
Children’s Hospital of Orange County and 15 Family Resource Centers in Orange County are now asking their clients two key questions regarding food insecurity and have screened over 60,000 individuals.
The questions are:
Within the past 12 months we worried whether our food would run out before we got money to buy more” and Within the past 12 months the food we bought just didn’t last and we didn’t have money to get more.”
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has released a toolkit to address food insecurity in the pediatric practice. http://www.frac.org/aaptoolkit
3. Getting people to where there is food.
A google map on our website, www.wastenotoc.org has 240 pantries identified in Orange County that can be accessed by individuals facing food insecurity. The client enters their zip code and the nearest pantries to their location populate the map. The google map has been incorporated into 211-OC’s website.