The United States throws away an estimated $160 billion and more in food a year, yet more than 450,000 people in Orange County are at risk of going hungry each month. Passionate about solving the disconnect between food waste and food insecurity, Scott Walker, Class of 2017 Leadership Tomorrow alumnus, started a “food rescue” initiative. Taking action locally, he has personally delivered excess restaurant and grocery store food to a local homeless shelter twice a week since 2008.
Restaurants and grocery stores actually have a double food waste problem. First, true food waste comes from food-prep scraps in kitchens and leftovers on people’s plates. Second, food that is still good and edible must be thrown away at the end of the day due to local regulations or business practices. All that food ends up in the landfill, where it breaks down into methane gas, which translates to a huge carbon footprint problem and a major contributor to global climate change. Focusing his efforts on the second problem, Scott partners with 14 local restaurants to address both food waste and food insecurity at the same time.
Scott’s LT Health and Human Services workshop experience, which included visiting the OC Rescue Mission, along with his growing network of connections resulting from LT, helped propel forward his ongoing efforts. During his 14 years and 3,500 hours of volunteerism, Scott has diverted and donated more than 80 tons of food from landfills to underserved community members. The volume of food diverted from landfills represents a reduction of 147,826 pounds of CO2, while the volume of food rescued represents a fair market value of more than $1 million. For these community contributions, he earned the 2021 Outstanding LT Alumni Leadership Award and the President’s Volunteer Service Award with a Gold Medal for 500+ hours of volunteer service.