Volunteering experience amidst COVID-19 by UC Berkeley students!

Foods, Equity, Entrepreneurship, & Development (FEED) Consulting is a food justice consulting student organization at UC Berkeley. We analyze and make recommendations to business-oriented questions for organizations that are working to improve and make a difference in the food system. This semester, we continued our partnership with Outside2Inside and focused on conducting research and continuing outreach to local businesses in two projects: Corporate Consciousness and Sustainable Urban Village Program.

Last semester, we worked with Outside2Inside on the Corporate Consciousness Program where we worked on conducting research with local businesses regarding their food waste methods and awareness on the topic. We developed a Corporate Consciousness Program which will allow any interested business to institute a food awareness program within their business through awareness and mindfulness practices, which will align the business’s goals with their brand. Specifically this semester, we worked on using outreach methods researched last semester to reach out to numerous small and large businesses and nonprofit organizations in the Bay Area. Our goal was to gather and collect interest in our cause and build a lasting connection with any companies that aligned with our goal and overall message. We developed three particular lasting contacts and communicated on our common goals and interest in food waste awareness. However, due to the COVID-19 situation, we were unable to meet with these companies in-person. Therefore, we have provided the contact information to Outside2Inside to continue this outreach process in future semesters when the COVID-19 outbreak dies down.

On top of our work on the Corporate Consciousness project this semester, we began the Sustainable Urban Village Project, or SUV for short. A SUV consists of a produce farm, animal farm and compost center all in one central location such as schools, apartments, corporations,etc. Each SUV is self-sustainable with a low setup cost and minimum required maintenance. SUVs also act as an awareness center, sustainable farm, farmers market, compost center and an animal farm all in one convenient place.

To bring this vision to reality, our FEED team identified the most compatible types of both produce and animals. After identifying types of potential animals and produce, we researched the more logistical aspects of the SUVs such as the land/space and legal requirements. Another portion of the SUV project revolved around compost, so our team assessed the pros and cons of each type of composting, providing Outside2Inside with a recommendation based on our findings. Finally, we created a 1 year, 2 year, and 5 year plan of implementation, a plan that will hopefully be implemented in the years to come, whether that be during or after the COVID pandemic.

Working as a team through a pandemic has been a challenge but the FEED team has grown and adapted to change. As the pandemic unfolded, our team was forced to work remotely but continued despite the abrupt change. As project managers, we (Annie and Collin) were
continually amazed by the adaptability and hard work of our consultants throughout the semester. FEED couldn’t have been more happy to work with Outside2Inside to make a difference in the Bay Area community and can’t wait to work together again in the coming years!

– Annie Li & Collin Miller

Project Managers for O2I – FEED Research Project

Re-use Food Waste the SUV Way

Food waste has reached epidemic proportions across the nation. Dumpsters located outside of every supermarket, restaurant, farmer’s market or any other place that sells food is filled with usable food. Sustainable Urban Village (SUV) has a proven plan that will educate the population on ways to reduce (prevent) and re-use (recover, recycle) food waste.

What is food waste? It’s food that could have been eaten but wasn’t for various reasons. Produce that is not ‘pretty’ becomes food waste because no one wants to buy a “Wonky” apple or an oddly shaped tomato. Leftover food from restaurants becomes food waste and excess produce from farms are thrown as there are no buyers for them. Households produce food waste because we buy more fresh food than we can consume before it goes bad.

Making people aware of the food waste problem is a step towards correcting the problem. SUV has an Awareness Center that will help people understand the food waste problem and learn ways to prevent it. Self-Awareness, Community Awareness, and Corporate Awareness are all a part of the program to educate people on all levels of things they can do to prevent food waste from occurring.  

Reducing the amount of food, we purchase is one step everyone can take towards preventing food waste. Instead of purchasing 4 bananas and tossing out 1 at the end of the week because it became over-ripe, just buy 3 bananas.
Using the same banana example, when you notice 1 of the bananas is becoming over-ripe, put it in the freezer for future use in a smoothie or banana bread. That’s called ‘re-purposing’ food and it will reduce food waste.

A compost center included in the SUV will convert the manure from the animals on the farm as well as waste from yards, gardens and food using a converter, so it can decompose and be used to improve soil fertility. The compost will enable the soil to produce more food, so the sustainable cycle can continue for everyone living in the Sustainable Urban Village.

SUV has an animal farm included in its plan to reduce food waste. Both good and bad food will be collected from those living in the neighborhood and used to feed the farm animals. What was once wasted food will become food with a purpose and feed livestock. Animals, like chickens, goats, and cows, will be fed with this nutrient-rich food waste and in turn, will provide fresh food like milk for those living in the Sustainable Urban Village.