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Smart Cafeteria Initiative

The Smart Cafeteria Initiative is a formal StopWaste partnership that provides technical assistance and equipment necessary for safe handling of food for sharing and donation. This is paired with student and community engagement curriculum activities provided by StopWaste’s 4Rs Student Action Project and Stop Food Waste Challenge which is focused on restoring the importance of food as sustenance and introducing students to the food recovery hierarchy.  

This 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.  

Through this grant, 90,000 meals were rescued from schools and donated to our community instead of going to landfill. Between 2018-2020, StopWaste assisted in the recovery of over 100,000 pounds of school food for donation from Oakland Unified and Livermore Valley Joint Unified School Districts as part of a Food Waste Prevention and Rescue Grant from CalRecycle, in partnership with Alameda County’s Food Recovery Project: a food recovery and redistribution program managed in partnership with the Deputy Sheriff’s Activities League and ALL IN Alameda County

Despite the challenge of COVID-19, rescuing surplus school food is still vitally important and can continue safely with proper food handling and sanitation procedures. StopWaste is working with the Alameda County Department of Environmental Health and district partners to develop safe donation procedures that prioritize feeding people and preventing waste. We are also exploring opportunities for direct donation to families and recovery partners in lieu of food share programs inside the cafeteria. 

Current active Smart Cafeteria Initiative School Districts are: Alameda, Fremont, Livermore, New Haven, Oakland, and Pleasanton.  

The initiative is funded by a grant from the Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) through California Climate Investments.  

Questions? Contact the Smart Cafeteria Initiative Coordinator, Annalisa Belliss at