City begins process to comply with state food recovery mandate

Lorenzo’s Market and Mariani Nut Company are two of the 44 Yolo County businesses identified as Tier One commercial edible food generators in an assessment. (Crystal Apilado/Winters Express)

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City Manager Kathleen Salguero Trepa presented requirements for Senate Bill 1383, the state mandated Surplus Food Recovery Program, to councilmembers at the Dec. 21 meeting. The program requires counties in coordination with jurisdictions and regional agencies within the county to comply with the mandate which was signed into law in September 2016.

Starting Jan. 1, food service providers, distributors and industries falling under a Tier One category will be required to reduce organic material disposal. The program’s objective, Trepa said, is to reduce climate changing greenhouse gases and direct food to the food insecure that would otherwise be diverted to landfills.

Trepa’s presentation outlined how the City of Winters is to comply with the mandate, which includes requirements to estimate the amount of edible food disposed of by local commercial edible food generators. Additionally, the city is to estimate the capacity of food recovery organizations and identify new food providers and food recovery organizations.

“The goals are good, it’s the implementation that has created the potential for some pretty significant financial impact,” Trepa told the council.

The city is required to determine how much waste it is sending to landfills and then what amount of it can be diverted to food recovery organizations. The requirements include funding to structure an edible food recovery infrastructure and to be financially able to support the expansion.

Expansion costs include the purchase of new refrigerators, trucks, software and tracking programs, scales to report to the state how the City of Winters is diverting edible food from landfills where the waste produces methane gas.

Trepa presented an estimated cost of $34,622 to the city for the  program’s first year, and is based on two local food generators: Lorenzo’s Market and Mariani Nut Company. These Winters businesses were identified as two of the 44 businesses throughout Yolo County that met the Tier 1 Generator definition.

Total Compliance Management (TCM) and Abound Food Care were contracted by Yolo County and the Cities of Winters and Woodland to assess the regional capacity of edible food recovery to meet the requirements of SB 1383. In their Edible Food Recovery Capacity Study and Funding Assessment, Tier One commercial edible food generators are defined as one of the following types of businesses: supermarket, grocery store with a total facility size of equal or greater than 10K square feet, food service provider, food distributer or a wholesale food vendor.

Trepa has not yet recommended how to fund the program and is waiting until she has a better idea what the program will cost. It is possible that funding may require an additional fee on the waste bill, she said. “We just don’t know,” Trepa said and suggested taking it “one step at a time.”

Proposed for the council’s consideration was a partnership with the county and cities to create a regional recovery network with the benefit of pooling resources. Of the recovery organizations evaluated, nine are certified by the Department of Environmental Health for food handling with the Yolo Food Bank being the largest.

CalRecyle is developing an initial start-up grant of $20,000 to help launch the program which if received would reduce the city’s first year expenditure. The City of Winters could potentially be liable for a maximum amount of $6,000 in this first year.

Trepa recommended council approve two actions:

  • Accept the Edible Food Recovery Capacity Study and Funding Assessment conducted by TCM on Aug. 16.
  • Approve the concept of a regional approach to compliance with the edible food recovery program.

Councilmembers agreed with Trepa’s recommendation and approved the proposal unanimously. Staff is expected to bring a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the City of Winters and Yolo County for the organization of a regional network back to council at a future meeting.

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