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StopWaste Awards $580K in Grants for Repair, Reuse, and Food Rescue

Grantee San Leandro Community Pantry provides hunger relief to low-income Alameda County residents and those facing homelessness.
September 10, 2020

StopWaste has awarded a total of $582,790 in grant funding to 59 local non-profit and for-profit organizations for projects focused on repair, reuse, food waste reduction, food rescue, and community outreach. With funding amounts ranging from $5K to $20K per grant award, the program engages businesses and community-based organizations to reduce waste in Alameda County while helping to address some of the most pressing environmental and equity issues facing county residents.

“The grants program does so much more than just keep waste out of the landfill. By partnering with community-based organizations and innovative businesses across the county, we are turning wasted materials into resources and getting them to where they are most needed,” said Wendy Sommer, StopWaste’s Executive Director. “That can mean meals for those in need, refurbished computers for low-income students, or job training for unemployed youth,” she added.

For example, West Oakland based nonprofit Civicorps, which received a $20K grant with a mission to re-engage young adults to pursue formal education and gain job skills, will use the funds to place two corps members in internships at Oakland based nonprofit Tech Exchange where they will learn computer refurbishing skills. “This project is really a win-win for everybody involved,” said Civicorp’s COO Brian Hickey. “Those computers will have a second life while teaching the corps members valuable job skills.” Once repaired, Tech Exchange distributes the devices to families who need them in Oakland and beyond. “This summer alone, thousands of students in need got laptops from us and can now participate in distance learning,” said Tech Exchange’s Executive Director Seth Hubbert. “This program helps bridge the digital divide, one refurbished computer at a time.”

Another key area of focus for the grants program is the recovery and redistribution of surplus edible food. Even before the pandemic, wasted food—including edible food—was the largest category of material in the landfill. The program award 22 food recovery grants with the goal to reduce wasted food and alleviate food insecurity by connecting people in need to surplus food. Among the grantees is Abode Services in Fremont, a nonprofit working to end homelessness by providing shelter and a range of support services at housing sites throughout the County.

Abode’s $20K grant will boost their food rescue operation significantly. “We have been picking up food that otherwise would have been land filled or composted from Whole Foods and other grocery partners for years, but the cost of transportation and staff to distribute those donations is always a limiting factor,” said Carrie Gaydos, Abode grants manager. “This grant will enable us to provide 50,000 more meals and deliver food to 1,000 more recipients in the coming year.”

Examples of other grant-funded waste prevention projects include:

  • San Leandro Community Pantry received a $8,500 grant to purchase a new fridge and freezer, enabling the nonprofit to accept up to 25,000 pounds of additional surplus perishable food donations each year.
  • Nonprofit 18 Reasons trains neighborhood leaders to teach cooking and nutrition to East Bay families. They will use a $10K grant to incorporate food waste prevention practices into their classes in Berkeley, Hayward, Oakland, and San Leandro.
  • Philz Coffee, which has 50 coffee shop locations throughout the County, currently uses disposable plastic pallet wrap for weekly shipments of coffee beans from San Leandro to their coffee roasting plant in Oakland. Philz will use a $7K grant to buy 48 reusable pallet wraps, eliminating an estimated 1,822 pounds of film plastic waste per year.

StopWaste acknowledges the many thoughtful grant proposals submitted and is looking forward to seeing the impact of the projects as they are implemented. The next grant cycle is planned for January 2021. To see a full list of grantees and their awards and to sign up to be notified of future grant cycles visit www.StopWaste.org/grants.