FAQs

    General

    Edible food recovery means collecting nutritious, edible food that would otherwise go to waste and redistributing it to feed people in need.This includes food that is not sold because of appearance, age, freshness, grade, size, and surplus. Edible food includes but is not limited to prepared foods, packaged foods, and produce. Californians send 11.2 billion pounds of food scraps or food waste to landfills each year, of which one million tons are potentially donatable, edible food. While healthy food goes to waste, millions of Californians don’t have enough to eat. In May 2020, 9.2 million Californians (23% of California’s population) didn’t know where their next meal would come from, according to the COVID Impact Survey

     

    To reduce waste and address food insecurity, surplus food still safe for people to eat can go to food banks, soup kitchens, and other food recovery organizations and services to help feed Californians. Food that ends up in a landfill also creates methane, a potent greenhouse gas that is 25 times more powerful than carbon dioxide, speeding up climate change. Composting food is better than sending it to the landfill, but not as good as recovering it to feed people. So edible food recovery is not only a vital way for California to conserve resources that go into growing, processing and distributing that food, but also fighting climate change!

    In 2016, Governor Brown signed Senate Bill 1383 to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from a variety of short-lived climate pollutants, including methane from organic waste. SB 1383 sets a goal for California  entities  to reduce disposal of organic waste in the landfill, including food that can still be eaten. The law establishes several statewide goals, including:

    • By 2020, reduce the amount of organic material disposed in landfills by 50% from the 2014 level, 
    • By 2025, reduce the amount of organic material disposed in landfills by 75% from the 2014 level, and
    • By 2025, recover 20% of currently disposed edible food for human consumption.

    The edible food recovery requirements of SB 1383 affect Tier One and Two Businesses and Organizations (commercial edible food generators), food recovery organizations and services, and local jurisdictions (cities and counties). In order to meet the statewide 20% food recovery goals, local jurisdictions are supporting entities and food recovery organizations with educational and planning tools, as well as monitoring and reporting, via the Santa Clara County Food Recovery Program.

     

    Please use the Contact Us page or email us at [email protected] to reach out for further information.

      Tier One and Two Businesses

      Tier One Commercial Edible Food Generators, also called Tier One Entities or Tier One Businesses, typically have more produce, fresh grocery and shelf-stable foods. They are large commercial edible food businesses/entities that fit into one of the following categories:

      • Supermarkets with gross annual sales of $2 million dollars or more
      • Grocery stores with a total facility size equal to or greater than 10,000 square feet
      • Food service providers
      • Food distributors
      • Wholesale food vendors

      All Tier One Businesses must comply with SB 1383 requirements by January 1, 2022.

      Tier Two Commercial Edible Food Generators, also called Tier Two Entities or Tier Two Businesses and Organizations, typically have more prepared foods, which often require more careful handling to meet food safety requirements. They are large commercial edible food entities that fit into one of the following categories:

      • Restaurants with 250 or more seats, or a total facility size equal to or greater than 5,000 square feet
      • Hotels with an on-site food facility and 200 or more rooms
      • Health facilities with an on-site food facility and 100 or more beds
      • Large venues that annually seat or serve an average of more than 2,000 individuals per day of operation
      • Large events that serve an average of more than 2,000 individuals per day of operation
      • State agencies with a cafeteria with 250 or more seats or a total cafeteria facility size equal to or greater than 5,000 square feet
      • Local education agencies with an on-site food facility 

      All Tier Two Businesses and Organizations must comply with SB 1383 requirements by January 1, 2024.

      If you think your business or organization was incorrectly categorized, please contact [email protected] and attach any proof that your business does not classify as a Tier One or Tier Two Business or Organization. 

       

      Example: If your business is less than 10,000 square feet and you are a grocery store assigned a Tier One status, you may attach proof of smaller square footage, and a staff member will contact you.

       

      Tier One and Tier Two Businesses and Organizations will need to do the following to comply with SB 1383 requirements: 

      • Recover the maximum amount of surplus edible food that would otherwise be disposed (e.g. in compost or landfill) to feed people, 
      • Have a written agreement or contract with each food recovery organization/service that picks up or receives edible food from your location, and
      • Maintain records of type, frequency, and pounds of food recovered each month.
      • Annually, each regulated entity will need to report on their food recovery efforts. Please ensure that the Program has a current email address so a unique reporting link may be shared. Email addresses can be updated on the Contact Us page.

      Safe edible food recovery depends on the type of food being recovered. Review the Santa Clara County Protocols for Safe Food Donation for best practices. The protocols are broken down by type of food, including prepared foods, meat, poultry, fish, dairy, eggs, produce, deli foods, bakery and dry grocery foods. More detailed recommendations can be found in the California Safe Surplus Food Donation Guide. These all follow CalCode food safety laws. You may also review the Edible Food Recovery Tips & Tricks for more information.

      To encourage companies to recover surplus food, the government instituted the Good Samaritan Food Donation Act to protect donors from criminal and civil liability when donating to a hunger relief organization, including if the product donated in good faith later causes harm to the recipient.

      Check out our List of Food Recovery Organizations and Services. Learn more about how to connect with a local food recovery organization or service here.

      The food recovery organization or service you’re working with may already have an agreement or contract template that they prefer to use. If not, you can use our sample contract here, as a starting point.

      If you already recover some of your surplus edible food, that is a great start. As a Tier One or Two Business or Organization you need to make sure you are meeting ALL of the requirements under SB 1383, including recovering the maximum amount of edible food that would otherwise be disposed of, having a contract or written agreement with a food recovery organization/service, and maintaining records of type, frequency, and pounds of food recovered each month.

      Even if your business recovers little to no surplus food, we strongly encourage you to connect and contract with a food recovery organization or service. It’s important to remember that SB 1383 regulations and related local ordinances require you to recover surplus food anytime you have it, even if that occurs only occasionally or unexpectedly. By taking the simple step of contracting with a food recovery organization or service now, regardless of how often you need to use it, you will avoid having to scramble when you find yourself with surplus food that is legally required to be recovered.

       

      Please visit our List of Food Recovery Organizations and Services to find a food recovery partner that fits your needs.

       

      Whether or not you recover any surplus food you are still required to submit Food Recovery Reports, which are distributed by the Santa Clara County Food Recovery Program.

      Local Education Agencies (LEAs) that have more than 5000 sq.ft. or more than 250 seats or a student population of at least 500 in their on-site food facility are classified as a Tier Two Entity. 

       

      According to CalCode, a "Food facility" means an operation that stores, prepares, packages, serves, vends, or otherwise provides food at the retail level, including operations where food is consumed on or off the premises, regardless of whether there is a charge for the food. A food facility is also any place used in conjunction with the operations described above, including, but not limited to, storage facilities for food-related utensils, equipment, and materials.

       

      "Food facility" includes permanent and nonpermanent food facilities, including:

      1. Public and private school cafeterias
      2. Restricted food service facilities
      3. Commissaries
      4. Mobile food facilities
      5. Mobile support units
      6. Temporary food facilities
      7. Vending Machines

       

      If your school uses an external food service provider for breakfast, lunch, vending, etc. such as ChoiceLunch, you will still be required to comply with SB 1383 as a Tier Two Entity if any of the above types of food facilities apply to your location.

        Food Recovery Organizations/Services

        Although SB 1383 required mandated food donors to donate the maximum amount of their edible food that would otherwise be disposed, SB 1383 does not require food recovery organizations and services to participate. It is the discretion of individual food recovery organizations and services to decide if they would like to participate.

         

        By January 1, 2022, all Tier One  Entities and by January 1, 2024, all Tier Two  Entities are required to have contracts or written agreements with all of the food recovery organizations/services that they work with. 

         

        If a food recovery organization/service does choose to provide services to Tier One or Two  Entities, then SB 1383 requires the food recovery organization/service to: 

        • Establish a written agreement/contract with each entity 
        • Maintain records related to edible food recovery, including the:
          • Name, address, contact information of involved parties (Tier One or Tier Two Entity , food recovery services and/or food recovery organizations),
          • Quantity of edible food collected, transported, and/or received per month (in pounds),
        • Report quantities of edible food collected and recovered to jurisdictions for each reporting period, and
        • Cooperate with local government on food recovery planning efforts. 

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