2019 Grants Challenge

FoodCycle Certification Program

Idea by FoodCycle

We'll recover surplus food from grocery stores, restaurants, and offices and ensure it feeds the millions of food insecure Angelenos instead of the landfill. Our comprehensive program utilizes cutting edge technology powered by ChowMatch, an app that handles food donation logistics, and offers consulting services that prevent waste. While reducing climate change and hunger in Los Angeles, we'll cut operating costs for businesses, provide tax breaks, and offer marketing and sales support!


Please list the organizations collaborating on this proposal.

We have partnerships with dozens of businesses and receiving agencies (kitchens, food banks, shelters), Athens Services (a waste hauler), ChowMatch, and we collaborate with many organizations through the LA Food Policy Council.

Briefly tell us a story that demonstrates how your organization turns inspiration into impact.

We speak with a lot of employees at local restaurants that want to help these causes but feel like they can't due to corporate regulations governing their business. Despite being turned down, we still take our time to speak with interested people at these restaurants to rally them around food sustainability. It's never a direct "no", it's a "maybe later." Often times, with patience and well-timed follow-up conversations we can turn motivation into concrete, measurable impact.

One case, in particular, is striking.

We target food dense areas around the city, one being Larchmont Village - a wonderful area with many shops and restaurants bunched together. After some outreach, we signed up one restaurant to begin donating their excess food. Although we tried reaching out to many businesses there, we only had this one store for seven months.

Then something changed.

We went back to businesses that said "maybe later" with a new approach focused on highlighting positive outcomes realized from their neighbor's contribution. We were a little more hands-on in suggesting customized recovery programs that would suit their store and explained how easy it is.

A courageous employee presented a strongly-worded pitch to her manager.

After that, we had a new partner.

Then we spoke about the positive outcomes from two neighboring restaurants to prospective partners.

Then we got another.

All of a sudden we were witnessing a massive chain reaction and within a few weeks we had nine different businesses donating their food to us on a daily basis.

It's now a simple - and normal - part of their routine.

We were able to turn employee inspiration into dozens of meals every single day.

Which of the LIVE metrics will your submission impact?​​

Prevalence of adverse childhood experiences

Rates of homelessness

In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?​

Central LA

East LA

San Gabriel Valley

San Fernando Valley

South LA


South Bay

County of Los Angeles

City of Los Angeles

How will your project make LA the best place to LIVE?

The FoodCycle Certification Program is built for restaurants, grocery stores, and other food businesses. Each participating business will receive a window sticker and other marketing materials they can use to promote their business to a conscious consumer base here in LA.

We focus on five key areas:

1.) Outreach & Education - It all starts with a grassroots campaign, talking with people and businesses in our community, which we've been doing for 13 years. Through an online video course, we'll inspire by highlighting issues surrounding food sustainability and food safety. It's open to all and required of partner business employees.

2.) Waste Prevention - On Day 1, we'll establish a baseline with each business, evaluating their current waste, and install customized food recovery and recycling programs. Our service will leverage ongoing data tracking and analysis to continually improve our partners' impact.

3.) Food Recovery - Through our existing network of partner donors, recipients, and collaborating organizations, we already have the infrastructure needed to deliver surplus food to the hungry. Our partnership with ChowMatch ensures we'll be able to add new partners to our network and begin bringing their excess to local kitchens, shelters, and food banks right from the start.

4.) Food Recycling - We have established partnerships with organizations in the community that turn inedible food waste into renewable energy forms through methods like composting. We'll provide proper storage and transportation to these facilities.

5.) Marketing and Sales Support - Every participating business is eligible to be FoodCycle Certified, which will earn them a window sticker and promotional materials. Additionally, we'll work with businesses to create sales for food that is nearing the end of its shelf life. In other words, we'll help them turn the food they would've previously wasted into some type of financial return. Through our newsletter and social media, we'll provide a signal boost for these businesses.

Our goal is to prove to local businesses that working with us will not only be great for Los Angeles and the world, but it can help their bottom line.

We're creating a win-win scenario.

Our program will be the first of its kind in the US at this scale, ensuring LA is the best place to LIVE!

By Summer 2019, we'll launch our pilot program with businesses that have already expressed interest in joining us. Over three months, we'll iterate upon our service through observation and client feedback. From there, we'll roll our service out across the county.

In what stage of innovation is this project?​

Pilot project (testing a new idea on a small scale to prove feasibility)

Please explain how you will define and measure success for your project.​

Success for this project hinges on whether we can prove the financial benefit to partnering businesses. Their participation is required to change the culture around surplus food in Los Angeles and we understand they also have to worry about their bottom line. If we can show that they still come out ahead after paying our fee, we will have created a no-brainer win-win situation for both businesses and the communities they serve across the county.

Every food donation may be eligible for tax breaks.

The consulting aspect of our service utilizes customized data to reduce costs currently spent on purchasing or producing food that will ultimately be wasted - which happens at every single grocery store and restaurant in the city.

We'll develop and promote sales on items that are nearing the end of their perceived shelf life, enabling businesses to realize a return on the food they're currently throwing away.

Our certification can become a staple in advertising to consumers looking to support businesses making a positive impact in their city.

And there are many other strategies we will develop and implement over time.

The bottom line is food waste is one of the biggest contributors to climate change in the world, over 40% of our fresh food is thrown away, and we have millions of hungry people in Los Angeles. That has to change.

Once we have businesses on board, our success will be defined by eliminating hunger in our county and vastly reducing it's contribution to climate change.

We won't stop until we achieve those objectives.