During the Dec. 6 City Council meeting, councilmembers heard a recommendation for providing funding to the Yolo Food Bank in compliance with a California state bill.
Before the discussion began, Councilmember Jesse Loren recused herself and exited the session, as she recently accepted employment with Yolo Food Bank. Following her departure, City Manager Kathleen Salguero Trepa briefed the council on the history of and basis for the city’s recommendation.
This resolution would provide $12,351 to Yolo Food Bank, a regional nonprofit that coordinates the recovery, storage, and distribution of food to those in need in Yolo County. The particular history of this resolution is tied to California Senate Bill 1383, a law passed in 2016 and with final regulations adopted in October 2020.
The staff report provided by Trepa described the bill as, “one of the most significant waste reduction and recycling mandates to be adopted in California in the past 30 years,” with the goal of, “establish(ing) methane emissions reduction targets to achieve a 50 percent reduction in statewide disposal of organic waste from 2014 levels by 2020 and 75 percent reduction by 2025.”
The bill also created “targets to achieve a 20 percent reduction in currently disposed edible food by 2025” as the “decomposition of organic waste in landfills is one of the largest contributors to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in California and the efforts to reduce these GHGs are essential to addressing impacts of climate change on human health and the environment.”
Regarding Winters’ contribution to this statewide measure, the city, in accordance with a regional study conducted when the law went into effect last year, initially determined that it could provide $34,662 to Yolo Food Bank as the regional coordinator of food waste reduction efforts.
“At the time,” Trepa continued, “(Yolo Food Bank) felt that the amount of funding that was offered through this regional network was inadequate to meet their needs, so they declined to participate.”
Following this, the city and county reallocated the funds originally designated for Yolo Food Bank to other food banks in the county, including RISE, Inc.
But Trepa then noted that “since that time, there has been a change in executive leadership at the (Yolo) Food Bank…and with that change in executive leadership, the Food Bank has desired to come back into the regional funding network.”
Thus the recommendation before the City Council proposed providing funding to Yolo Food Bank in two allocations totaling $12,351, leaving what remains of the $34,662 to commit to purchasing more equipment for RISE, who is looking to expand its pantry capacity.
Trepa invited the council to ask questions to her or to Yolo Food Bank Director of Operations Corkey Mapalo, who joined the meeting remotely.
Mayor Pro Tempore Bill Biasi asked Mapalo some logistical questions about pickups and deliveries, before inquiring how much food had been collected per month up to this point. Mapalo answered that “from Jan. 1, 2022, to present from Mariani Nuts it’s 16,083 (pounds), from Dollar General it’s 656 pounds, we don’t keep track of Lorenzos, because RISE contracted separately from Lorenzos.”
Biasi then asked Trepa if grants could help cover these costs, to which Trepa answered it was unlikely as “the state of California does not consider this to be an unfunded mandate because of the potential revenue source to cover all of this expense associated with edible food recovery.
Mayor Wade Cowan and Biasi registered their disquiet with the state’s implementation of this bill, with Biasi stating, “the state may not consider this an unfunded mandate, but I do — this is something they’re making us do,” and Cowan later stating, “I’m never in favor of unfunded mandates, and that’s exactly what this is.”
But Cowan expressed his strong belief in Yolo Food Bank, continuing, “at the same time, if we got to spend some money on this, I think spending it with Yolo Food Bank is a real good place to do it,” and commending the organization for their extant efforts to feed people in Winters, sharing a list of distributions that the food bank does around town, including weekly distributions at Winters High School that help over 600 households in the area.
Members of the public also imparted to the council the importance of Yolo Food Bank in the community, including Tina Lowden, who said, “we need to make sure we get this in the budget, because this is a very, very, very, very important program.”
Biasi discussed potentially changing the allocation of the $35,000 in subsequent payments, including allocating more of or all of that annual amount to Yolo Food Bank once RISE has their equipment.
The council voted to approve the recommendation, with the three remaining councilmembers approving the proposal. Councilmember Harold Anderson was absent.