Alameda County Deputy Sheriffs' Activities League (DSAL)
Food Rescue and Job Training: The Food Hub at Dig Deep Farms
Rescuing surplus edible food to feed people reduces waste and helps address food insecurity in the short term. But building a job training program into the process can do so much more because it addresses the underlying issues of poverty. “If people have money in their pockets, they won’t be food insecure,” says Hilary Bass, a senior program specialist for the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office whose role is to oversee the non-profit Deputy Sheriffs’ Activities League (DSAL). Among other programs, DSAL works closely with the Probation Department and their community-based partner organizations to offer workforce re-entry trainings for people with criminal justice system experience.
In 2019, DSAL received a $20,000 food waste prevention grant from StopWaste to support their food rescue work at Dig Deep Farms located in the communities of Ashland, Cherryland and unincorporated San Leandro. Here, paid trainees grow highly nutrient-dense fresh fruits and vegetables, while learning job skills and earning certificates in permaculture and urban farming. Others work at the adjacent Food Hub as food recovery drivers, picking up surplus food in refrigerated vans from farmers markets, schools and other organizations. They then sort and process the recovered food and—along with the farm’s harvest—package them for redistribution to food-insecure local residents, including home-bound seniors and others in need.
Dig Deep Farms works with partner organizations to expand their food recovery and redistribution efforts. One such partnership is with community health clinics where patients who are struggling with food insecurity, social isolation and other risk factors, receive “food as medicine” prescription vouchers, redeemable for fresh produce and healthy staples at Dig Deep’s clinic-based “Food Farmacy” farm stands.
DSAL’s long-term vision is to build a regional network that supports a sustainable food economy and equitable access to nutritious food. Ultimately our goal is to create a local, circular food system for all people in Alameda County,” said Bass.