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Supes pass ordinance requiring some businesses to recover, donate surplus food

In accordance with a new state law, the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors has approved the adoption of an ordinance that requires some large-scale businesses to recover and donate surplus edible food.

The goal of the state law, Senate Bill 1383, is to help food-insecure residents as well as minimize the organic materials that go to landfills, thus reducing methane emissions.

Supervisor Otto Lee celebrated the board’s Tuesday vote, calling it a “comprehensive and thoughtful countywide framework for providing thousands of additional pounds of healthy surplus food to populations in need throughout our region, instead of going to waste.”

Essentially, the ordinance creates a uniform program that makes it easier for supermarkets, restaurants and other businesses to donate unused edible food to nonprofits that will distribute it.

County officials said in a statement:

“Edible food recovery and food waste reduction programs can help save businesses money, and have positive social and environmental impacts.” 

County officials said it will also make it easier for food recovery organizations to meet the new state regulations to report on the collection and distribution of donated food.

The adoption of the ordinance will only impact unincorporated areas of Santa Clara County, but supervisors hope it will act as a model for other local jurisdictions.

Cities within the county, and across the state, are required to adopt the ordinance themselves by Jan. 1, 2022.

The countywide food recovery program will be managed by the nonprofit Joint Venture Silicon Valley through 2024.

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