Feeding Yolo and Beyond: Turning Food Waste into Food Security

The Issue

Food security is defined as “…having reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food.” Sixteen percent of adults, and 23% of children struggled with food security in Yolo County in 2015. According to a 2012 First 5 community needs assessment, food access and nutrition information was paramount to families with young children in Yolo County. Food insecurity can increase the risk of obesity, poor school performance, low self-esteem, illness and other maladies. At the same time, Yolo grows some of the most diverse and abundant crops in the world. A component of food waste is the produce left behind in the fields due to overproduction or the inability to sell the food due to inconsistencies in size, shape, or color due to regulations and processing requirements. There is a unique opportunity to draw on local crop waste to repurpose fruits and vegetables to meet the needs of residents.

What Has ANR Done?

The UC Davis Innovation Institute for Food and Health spearheaded a collaborative effort to test the process of gleaning crop waste, preserving it, and then distributing it through the local food bank in consumer-friendly packaging. Under the coordination of the Family Huie organization, UC ANR provided expertise on community nutrition practices, dietary needs, preferences, and cultural customs in order to deliver palatable, nutrient dense, shelf-stable products to low-income families with young children.

Household cooks with children under the age of five who utilize the Food Bank in four small rural towns (Madison, Arbuckle, Dunnigan, and Knights Landing) were invited to participate in the project. Eighty participants completed a survey on preferences. Participants were then asked to submit a recipe utilizing the selected crop products (canned, pickled, and dried tomatoes) and rice (an abundant ingredient at the food bank). Finalists were selected and invited to the UC Davis Food Innovation Lab to participate in a cooking competition to choose the winning recipes.

The Payoff

Community driven research and development led to increased food options for the food insecure

As a result of this project, local, primarily Latina women, contributed to the project, increasing the quality and acceptability of shelf-stable food products available through the Yolo Food Bank. Their inclusion resulted in the development of recipes that will increase the use of fruits and vegetables in home cooking during months when fresh produce is scarce. Additionally, this was a pilot project that was shown to be an effective model. Future funding will increase the variety used and will help to increase food security and nutrition.

Clientele Testimonial

[What I enjoyed most about the event was]…”the networking with other community partners, cooking and taste-testing, especially enjoyed the information…”


Supporting Unit: UC CalFresh Nutrition Education Program

Marcel Horowitz, 530-666-8722, mhorowitz@ucanr.edu
Sonia Fernandez, 530-666-8702, ssfernandez@ucanr.edu