ESCONDIDO, Calif. — Local farms are playing a vital role in getting fresh food to local families experiencing food insecurity by partnering with Feeding San Diego, a hunger relief organization. It’s part of their effort to increase the amount of food that is ‘saved’ by feeding people over landfills and increasing the amount of nutrient-rich and fresh food in the organization's supply.
“I think these relationships with local farms are really kind of at the heart of a really modern form of hunger relief,” said Carissa Casares, the Senior Communications Manager with Feeding San Diego. “Not just giving out canned goods, not just giving out food that isn’t fresh, and really trying to move towards getting out fresh food.”
Their motto is feed people, not landfills, and with over 200 local farms on their roster, Feeding San Diego is helping reduce food waste, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and get local organic produce to hungry families. One partnership they’ve fostered since 2019 – is the one with Mountain Meadow Mushrooms in Escondido.
“Well for us, it’s a win-win situation because we don’t have to lower prices to vendors or our customers, and at the same time we’re helping out the community,” said Roberto Ramirez, President of Mountain Meadows Mushroom Farm.
“So mushrooms are actually far closer related to humans than they are to plants,” Robert Richardson, a partner of Mountain Meadow Mushrooms told CBS 8. “They are not producers of their own energy molecule. They have to take it from plants or other animal species that they’re growing on. So their chemistry is very similar to ours.”
The partnership helps fight climate change since food that rots in landfills emits a significant amount of greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere. But Mountain Meadow Mushrooms goes above and beyond by composting any of their waste, and then offering that compost soil to the public for free.
“It’s one of those things that we like good karma all around,” Ramirez added. “So, if we can find somebody that would love free mushrooms when we have excess, we just keep doing it.”
70 percent of the 35 million meals that Feeding San Diego distributes annually are rescued before going to waste. In some cases that’s from grocery stores or restaurants, but also from farms. Feeding San Diego estimates that these partnerships have prevented 28 million pounds of food from landfills.
“Hunger is not a sourcing problem, it’s a distribution problem,” Casares says. “So, our nonprofit really works to connect the dots between people that have food and the people that need food.”