BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — Kern Public Health states there are at least 116,000 people in Kern County that do not know where their next meal is coming from, and when you break that down even further it means 1 in 4 children go to bed hungry.
The ‘Waste Hunger Not Food’ Program isn't new it was first launched back in 2018. The program rescues surplus, edible food from local restaurants, schools, and markets that might otherwise have been wasted, and distributes it to those in need.
Now as inflation is impacting many people in the community, there’s resources in Kern County available for them.
“We knew there was a hunger problem, we knew there was a waste problem, so we brought the two together and we formed ‘Waste Hunger Not Food’ and the rest is history,” said Michelle Corson, Public Relations Officer for Kern County Public Health Department.
The program primarily rescues food from local schools, where there is a lot of waste that occurs.
Corson says milk, or pre-packaged foods that haven’t been touched, are placed in a special bin for pick up.
“The children in the schools, they know about the ‘Waste Hunger Not Food’ program. They have been deemed our food rescuers, so they’ve been educated about all of this. They know they are making a difference and quite often it’s their own friends and family that will be receiving this very food.”
The program also works with dozens of churches throughout Kern County to serve as distribution sites. Corson said that they wanted to make sure that the process of accessing this food was made as easy as possible for those in need.
“We distribute it primarily through churches in our community so that this is an easily accessible place for our residents to go to their church in their neighborhood to access this free healthy food. I’ve seen families, and mothers especially, crying that they’re able to receive this kind of food to provide to their children that otherwise they wouldn’t be able to afford. It’s extremely touching, it’s very powerful,” said Corson.
In order to keep track of the program’s progression, the amount of food that their drivers pick up from the local donors is weighed on a daily basis.
This information is updated regularly on their website to monitor exactly how much food they’ve rescued. As of Wednesday, that amount has reached over 1,600,000 pounds. Corson tells 23ABC it is safe to say, they’ve come a long way.
“We want to get back to full operations as we were before the pandemic. We are thrilled that all of our partners have come around us and we have only just begun. We really want to help reduce waste and feed those that are hungry in our community.”