Redistributing surplus food that would otherwise be discarded represents a viable strategy both for increasing food access and for addressing climate change. This study describes a public-private partnership that scaled such an effort in Los Angeles County. Public health worked with a technology-based company to introduce a mobile app that connected various traditional (e.g., food pantries) and non-traditional (e.g., businesses with surplus food, food rescue organizations, community-based organizations that work in low-income communities) organizations with a countywide surplus food redistribution process. In 11 months, 50 food businesses participated, a total of 43,900 pounds of food were recovered, and surplus food was delivered to 34 community sites, serving 28,400 meals. Lessons from the experience suggest that mobile app use was a key component of the redistribution effort, and that diverting food waste while increasing food access, with a priority towards obtaining food of high nutritional value, was both feasible and practical. It has previously been shown that reducing food loss and waste by at least 50% in the food service sector could help reduce energy use and greenhouse gas emissions.
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