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Los Angeles Food Waste Grant Challenge

Posted on 10/26/2017
Food Waste


City Logs

Los Angeles Food Waste Grant Challenge                                                                                                                 


Be a Food Waste Warrior

“Help the City of LA free food from landfills in the first ever Food Waste Grant Challenge!”


OVERVIEW: One third of LA’s waste stream is made up of organic materials, mostly food. In the landfill, food rots and emits methane gas. Over 40% of edible food moving through LA goes to waste, yet more than half a million Angelenos struggle with food insecurity. Wasted food is a social, environmental and economic problem. Combating food waste regenerates resources, saves money for households, and feeds people.

TIMELINE: Grant proposals are due on December 15, 2017. Awards will be announced in mid-December, with a target start date of all projects on January 22, 2018.


1. Increase public awareness on food waste prevention and recovery

2. Catalyze innovation and community resources to help Angelenos reduce food waste, recover surplus food and turn waste into a resource.


  • SCALABILITY: Highlight scalable and replicable models for food recovery, re-use and regeneration
  • SUSTAINABILITY: Catalyze projects, through support and infrastructure, that continue to serve communities beyond the grants challenge
  • PARTICIPATION: Raise awareness and participation of Angelenos to prevent, reduce and recapture food waste


There are two (2) types of grants available for the Food Waste Grant Challenge


  • Number of Awards: 3
  • Size of Grant: $45,000 total grant pool ($15,000/each)
  • Eligible Applicants: Non-Profit Organizations, Neighborhood Councils
  • Purpose: The Food Waste Warrior Grantees will serve as technical assistants and facilitators for the project grantees. They will help train the applicants and provide feedback for 2-3 #FreeTheFood Project Grantees (depending on scope of project), helping them collect baseline data, identify materials and supplies, and engage the broader community in their efforts.

They will also help engage the public and relevant networks to promote the #FreeTheFood challenge for households, businesses and community groups using social and traditional media and working directly with #FreeTheFood grantees to rapidly implement their idea.

Grantees are expected to garner participation of individuals, households or local businesses through online pledges and social media.

  • Requirements
    • Applicants must demonstrate expertise in one or more of the 4 food waste challenge categories:
  1. food waste prevention
  2. food donation
  3. upcycled use like animal feed or fuel
  4. composting
    • Ideally, grantees will have a strong network, community base of supporters and can serve as community liaisons for the #FreeTheFood projects to recruit the involvement of individuals, households or local businesses, as appropriate for the project.


  • Number of Awards: 7
  • Size of Grant: $52,500 ($7500/each)
  • Eligible Applicants: Any organization or business as long as the project serves a defined geographic community and is available to the public.
  • Purpose: The #FreeTheFood Projects will demonstrate all the ways we can free food from landfills through (1) source reduction and waste prevention (2) food donation (3) upcycled use like animal feed or fuel or (4) composting. The projects will be rapid design/build prototypes that demonstrate how communities can implement ways to divert food from landfills.
  • Requirements
    • Applicants must clearly articulate how they will measure impact in terms of BOTH (1) pounds of food diverted from landfill and (2) number of residents who participate through events, online pledges or education efforts. Projects must capture a baseline of current food waste and a clear way to track food waste reduction.
    • Applicants will culminate their project with a community event.
    • Grant funds can be used for both project supplies and event expenses.


  • LENGTH: The #FreeTheFood Grant Challenge is a little over 60 days long.
  • GEOGRAPHY: One #FreeTheFood Project will be selected for all seven of our City planning areas: East San Fernando Valley, West San Fernando Valley, Central Los Angeles, West Los Angeles, East Area, South Los Angeles, and Harbor Area

(see planning area map here:


(1) food waste prevention

(2) food donation

(3) upcycled use like animal feed or fuel

(4) composting

    • The Waste Warrior Administrative Grant is intended to inspire the general public, including individuals, households and local businesses to take action on food waste. Examples of public engagement could look like connecting local groups (block clubs, faith based groups, schools, etc) to food recovery organizations for a food donation drive, hosting a Twitter “Townhall” using #FreeTheFood hashtag, collecting signatures on a food waste pledge, or an institutional commitment such as a public commitment by a hotel to zero food waste their kitchen.
    • The Food Warrior Grant will also be linked to 1-3 #FreeTheFood design/build project to provide the grantee technical assistance with their project and promoting the project and related community event.
    • The Waste Warrior Project Grant is intended to catalyze new community resources and infrastructure that free food from landfills and put them to better use. Projects can be design/build projects such as worm compost bins at a community garden, food scrap collection at a farmers market, or a food waste prevention training for cafeteria workers.
    • All projects should be available to the public and should engage residents within a particular geography to work together to prevent, recover or recycle food that would have been wasted.
    • All projects will track pounds of food diverted based on a baseline assessment collected at the beginning of the grant challenge period. All projects will also carefully track the number of residents engaged in the process.
    • At the end of the #FreeTheFood Grant Challenge, the City will announce the total pounds of food diverted from landfills and number of Angelenos who participated as an example of the powerful potential of community efforts. The data collected will also serve as information for the City’s Bureau of Sanitation for future pilots or programs to reduce food from the municipal waste stream.


    • In addition to the public engagement led by the grantees, the Mayor’s Office, the Department of Public Works and the city’s Food Waste Taskforce will ensure participation by relevant department staff, neighborhood councils (through the Sustainable Neighborhood Council Alliance), elected offices, and county officials.


USDA Food Waste Challenge

US EPA Food Recovery Challenge

EPA Get Smart: Take the Challenge

EPA Composting Guides


Food Waste Prevention

  1. Be mindful of what you purchase. Take notice of excess foods that go uneaten in your kitchen. Adjust your buying habits to accommodate this change.
  2. Be creative with leftovers and make sure that food is consumed before you buy or consume newer foods.
  3. Buy “ugly” produce. It tastes the same, but many people may avoid buying perfectly edible food because it may not look as nice and it will likely go to waste.
  4. Make your own vegetable stock or broth. Save the clean ends, stems, and peels of your veggies that would normally end up in the trash. Save them in your freezer until you’re ready to make some broth. After cooking your broth, you can save the add the cooked vegetables to your compost pile.
  5. If you are a food service business, train your staff in proper knife skills and creative use of produce parts in dishes to minimize food throw out.
  6. Portion control and educate your customers. The majority of food in landfills is from plate waste at restaurants. Re-design your menu to offer healthier portion sizes, and let your customers know portion sizes they should expect and the importance of reducing food waste.

Food Recovery

  1. Share your food. Donate leftover edible food that would otherwise go to waste. Connect with organizations that re-distribute excess foods in order to reduce hunger and waste.
  2. If you are a restaurant, partner with the City of LA recycLA service providers to donate surplus meals and food.


  1. Can your company invest in an anaerobic digester? You could generate energy, reduce the cost of waste hauling, and keep food waste out of landfills.
  2. Consider how your product could use post-consumer, edible food products such as coffee grinds, juice or nut pulp.
  3. Feed your animals with safe clean scraps or donate to a local farmer who could use the scraps for livestock feed.


  1. Save all your food scraps! Inedible fruits, vegetables, bread, rice, egg shells etc. Consider onsite compost bins.
  2. Don’t add meat and dairy products to your compost pile.
  3. Freeze your food scraps until you’re ready to use them, compost them, or drop them off at composting facilities.

BONUS CATEGORY: Grow Your Own Food

  1. Start an herb garden in your home so you can avoid buying them and having excess herbs go to waste.
  2. Save seeds and grow new plants out of foods that you have already consumed. You can do this in your own home or as part of a community garden.
  3. Use your finished compost to nourish your new plants.
  4. Remember you can put yard waste in the green bin. Be sure your apartment building or business gets a green bin through the city’s recycLA program.


Submit applications to:

Wendy Renteria