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Encinitas is one of the county's first cities to take a public step towards preparing for Assembly Bill 1826, which Gov. Jerry Brown signed in September 2014 and goes into effect April 1, 2016, requiring businesses to recycle their organic waste — lawn clippings, food waste and other similar waste — rather than sending it to landfills. Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons
The city of Oceanside is busy working on establishing a zero waste, sustainable food system in North County that encourages residents and businesses to reduce their food waste and recycle leftovers. File photo
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Inaugural Food Waste Prevention Week shares best practices to reduce food waste

OCEANSIDE — Food Waste Prevention Week was celebrated in Oceanside this month to inform businesses and residents about food waste reduction strategies that save money and benefit the environment.

The inaugural Food Waste Reduction Week was held statewide March 5 to March 9. During the week Oceanside Solid Waste and Recycling Green Team incorporated tips on household food waste reduction in its scheduled Green Oceanside Makeover Workshop presentation, and at Green Team information booths at city events.

Everyday practices to reduce household food waste include menu planning, smart shopping lists and zero waste cooking that utilizes most food parts and makes use of leftovers.

Restaurants that are members of the Green Oceanside Business Network showcased zero waste culinary arts on local television news spots. Head chefs from Wrench and Rodent Seabasstropub and The Whet Noodle shared recipes that artfully stretch food use and reduce waste.

Colleen Foster, city solid waste and recycling senior management analyst, said the television spots helped bring attention to the problem.

“We’re creating awareness on how much food waste there is and how to prevent it,” Foster said. “All of this awareness supports food recovery.”

Next year the city plans to hold more programs on food waste reduction. Foster said there is already strong community interest in the topic.

The city has been working to reduce organic waste, which includes green waste and food waste, for decades. A city Zero Waste Plan was created in 2012, which includes organic waste reduction goals.

The city’s overall goal is to reduce waste by 75 percent by 2020. Foster said the city has already reached 67 percent waste reduction through recycling practices, and community and business education. The next step is to focus on organic waste reduction.

The city has a successful partnership with El Corazon Compost Facility in Oceanside to addresses city green waste.

Further steps are in process to reduce and recycle food waste.

Oceanside has taken on the role as a regional leader is zero waste efforts with a focus on optimizing resources.

The city is part of the Food Recovery Network and Foster co-chairs the North County Food Policy Council. Oceanside works with these groups to bridge the hunger gap and further food recovery and distribution efforts.

Another milestone for the city is its food recovery kitchen, which is presently in the design phase.

Foster said construction of the kitchen at El Corazon Senior Center is expected to begin in fall. Programs will follow in spring 2019.

The recovery kitchen will provide catering, culinary training, food recovery and benefit feeding agencies.

Foster said the city is also looking into food waste recycling, which will increase overall recycling by 8 to 15 percent, provide soil amendments, create renewable clean energy and feed people not landfills.

Green Oceanside Makeover workshops will be held from March through October. The city also plans to hold a Gleanup Day in April to harvest and distribute food from residential fruit trees. Check the city website for further information.