By Hoa Quach
A new North County facility hopes to reduce the amount of residents facing food insecurity while also eliminating waste.
The city of Oceanside this month celebrated its Green Oceanside Kitchen, a facility leaders described as a “state-of-the-art” operation that would provide “innovative solutions” for some of the biggest issues facing the region.
“The Green Oceanside Kitchen aims to fill a significant hole in our food system by providing a location and services to preserve food, reduce waste, feed our community, and provide job training and education for being better stewards of the earth,” said Colleen Foster, the city of Oceanside’s environmental officer.
Located at the El Corazon Senior Center in the coastal city, the 1,700-square-foot commercial kitchen is a joint partnership between the city and the nonprofit O’side Kitchen Collaborative that will begin operating this fall. Leaders said the kitchen will receive agricultural surplus from nearby farms then turn them into meals for residents. The kitchen will also offer catering services.
Foster said the food will be distributed to residents via organizations such as Feeding San Diego, San Diego Food Bank and Mira Costa Community College.
Foster said the Green Oceanside Kitchen was developed over the course of several years after leaders identified “the biggest gap to saving edible food is the space to store and process it.”
“Approximately 40 percent of food produced annually is ending up in landfills and over 20 percent of that food is still edible when it heads to the landfill,” Foster said. “This is not only a waste of valuable food resources, it is a waste of the water, labor, land and energy provided to bring food to our tables.
“Wasted food is also a major contributor to climate change, due to methane emissions – the most potent greenhouse gas emissions coming from organics in our landfills.”
But it’s not just the issue of food waste that is a concern, Foster said.
“This is incredibly serious not only from a waste perspective but also because one in seven adults and one in five children in San Diego County face food insecurity every day. We are essentially feeding our dumpsters better than our people.”
In addition to supplying food to residents in need, the facility will also offer community workshops and cooking classes beginning in the fall with an effort to raise awareness about food waste.
Foster said the classes will include zero-waste cooking classes, farm-to-sea excursions, fun date-night themed cooking classes, student and senior-focused classes and more.
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