When Paddy Iyer first started volunteering at a local food bank in his Tri-City community, he noticed something strange happening. After people graciously accepted their bags of food, some would end up in the parking lots, trading things like long beans, eggplants, or squash with others. Iyer quickly realized that it wasn’t that people didn’t want or need the produce, it was simply that they didn’t know how to cook it.
The moment inspired Iyer to start Daily Bowl, a Union City-based nonprofit that gleans surplus produce and groceries from farmers markets, farms, grocery stores, and restaurant wholesale distributors, and redistributes this surplus food to nonprofits that serve low-income and vulnerable populations in the Tri-City areas of Fremont, Union City, and Newark.
About 30 percent of the Tri-City population lives below the poverty line, many of whom lack access to fresh food to feed their families.
True to his ethnically diverse background, Iyer started Daily Bowl as a model of connecting the diverse families of the area to culturally relevant foods. The nonprofit plans to offer comprehensive cooking classes, in addition to the impromptu demos that it currently offers with food pantry staff to help them understand how to use certain vegetables so that they can then educate recipients.
"It’s an honor to rescue food while also feeding those in need, enriching our diverse community with the ethnic food that they know,” Iyer says.
To date, Daily Bowl has gleaned 450 thousand pounds of produce and prepared meals in Alameda County, and stands out as one of the few organizations in the county that is able to rescue prepared food. Iyer is now looking to partner with Fremont Unified School District to support food rescue and donation from area schools.
StopWaste is proud to support Daily Bowl, providing a $10k grant in 2017 and a $20k grant in 2019 to increase recovery of surplus food and reduce waste in the Tri-City area by expanding outreach to donors and redistribute food to feed community groups and families in need.