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Topic Briefs

Smart Cafeteria Initiative - July 2020

In 2018, StopWaste partnered with Alameda County school districts and food recovery organizations to pilot a new food donation program through the Smart Cafeteria Initiative.  This program, funded in part by a grant from CalRecycle, was designed to help schools reduce waste through prevention, food share, re-serving, and donation to those in need.

The project also reduces food packaging and utensils through source reduction and by replacing single-use disposables with reusables.The Smart Cafeteria Initiative provides technical assistance and equipment necessary for safe handling of food for sharing and donation. This is paired with a curriculum for students that is focused on restoring the importance of food as sustenance and introducing them to the food recovery hierarchy.

The program also aims to help schools meet a new statewide edible food donation mandate included in the SB 1383 legislation, which requires that food generators increase the percentage of edible surplus food that is donated rather than ending up in the landfill.