ENCINITAS — While their peers are busy keeping up with celebrities, Gabrielle (“Gabri”) Posard and older sister, Camille, are focused on a more serious issue — hunger in the United States.
Camille, 17, is a senior at Carlsbad High School. While producing a story for her broadcast journalism class, CHSTV, she became aware of the food crisis in the United States, especially among military families. Her documentary dealing with the issue, titled “One in Seven, The New Face of Hunger,” debuted at the Global Peace Film Festival in Orlando last weekend and will screen Sept. 30 at the San Diego Film Festival.
Two years ago Gabri, who was 12 at the time, accompanied Camille to Camp Pendleton where she was filming. She was taken aback when she saw military families waiting in long lines for free food. Shortly after that she, too, had an “ah, ha” moment.
“My mom, dad and I were at lunch, talking about issue of hunger,” she said. “I was shocked at statistics and surprised to learn that most stores and restaurants don’t know about the Good Samaritan Food Donation Act.”
The act, signed by President Clinton on Oct. 1, 1996, encourages restaurants and grocery stores to donate food to homeless shelters, soup kitchens and churches by limiting their liability.
Gabri did her research and found that while more than one in four children go hungry in the United States each year, more than 96 billion pounds of good food is dumped into landfills where it breaks down into methane gas which, in turn, contributes to global warming.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, methane gas remains in the atmosphere for approximately 9 to 15 years. It is more than 20 times more effective in trapping heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide over a 100 year period.
Gabri came up with a concept, representing the next generation of recycling, that alleviates hunger while saving the planet.
Gabri’s mother, Lisa, remembers the moment when Gabri’s idea was born.
“Gabri said, ‘Why don’t stores have a logo at the entrance like the recycling one? If consumers knew that stores donated their surplus food, it would encourage them to shop there.’
Lisa was amazed at her daughter’s wisdom. “It was ‘out of the mouth of babes,’” she said.
Gabri took a pen and sketched out a simple but clever logo. Then she came up with the name “Donate Don’t Dump.” She was relieved to find that the domain hadn’t been taken, and quickly registered it. She also started a Facebook page for her new organization. As a result, today there are 10 chapters of Donate Don’t Dump throughout the United States and growing.
Gabri’s godmother, Michelle Glasser, is an attorney at Procopio, Cory, Hargreaves & Savitch LLP in Carlsbad. She began the paperwork to make Donate Don’t Dump a tax-exempt nonprofit under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.
Meanwhile, Gabri was able to secure a grant for $9,250 from the Leichtag Family Foundation in Carlsbad for startup costs and production of banners bearing the nonprofit’s new logo.
“The Donate Don’t Dump project now creates an urgent call to action,” explained James S. Farley, Esq., president and CEO of the foundation.
Gabri also started volunteering locally with the Community Resource Center in Encinitas.
“Gabri has been one of the very youngest volunteers in our client-centered food pantry,” said executive director Laurin Pause. “Based on her experience with the film, ‘One in Seven, The New Face of Hunger,’ she fully understood what our organization is trying to accomplish at such a young age — better than most adults who are volunteers.”
Today, Gabri routinely collects food from local restaurants and stores for her nonprofit. She said the most effective program is Albertson’s “Fresh Rescue” which donates those food items that have reached their “sell by” date, but have not yet expired and continue to be safe to consume.
“Albertson’s has a corporate policy of not dumping food,” Gabri explained. “They have donated $275,000 in soon-to-be-expired food in San Diego County. This helps by eliminating the dumpster fee, and making it possible for more food to go to food banks.”
Next year Camille plans to study film at USC or UCLA. Gabri, now 14 and a freshman at San Dieguito Academy, is also college bound with a goal of earning a business degree with a minor in communications. One day she plans to become a CEO.
“I was inspired by my sister, and the fact that she was outraged with adults who hadn’t come up with an idea for fighting hunger,” Camille said.
For more information, visit donatedontdump.org or Facebook/Donate Don’t Dump. To make a contribution or start a chapter, call (760) 652-9193 or e-mail [email protected] The trailer for the film “One in Seven, The New Face of Hunger” can be viewed at youtube.com/watch?v=U_s8gmkdd1c.