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County of Santa Clara Board of Supervisors Adopts Food Recovery Ordinance

Donation of surplus edible food from local businesses will help our food-insecure community and reduce greenhouse gases

SANTA CLARA COUNTY, CALIF. – The County of Santa Clara Board of Supervisors approved the Food Recovery Ordinance on November 16, 2021. New California state law SB 1383 requires cities and counties to adopt this ordinance by January 2022 and implement programs that will require certain large-scale businesses to recover and donate surplus edible food. The ordinance, intended for unincorporated areas in Santa Clara County, serves as a model for cities within the county to create their own ordinances; it also helps to create a uniform program that is easier to use for businesses that donate food and the nonprofits that distribute it. The Countywide Food Recovery Program in Santa Clara County has also become a model for other jurisdictions throughout the state.

The Food Recovery Ordinance is a solution that generates more healthy surplus food to Santa Clara County’s food-insecure population, minimizes waste that goes to the landfill, and reduces greenhouse gas production.

“Today’s vote by the Board of Supervisors creates a comprehensive and thoughtful countywide framework for providing thousands of additional pounds of healthy surplus food to populations in need throughout our region, instead of going to waste,” said County of Santa Clara Supervisor Otto Lee, who represents the County on the Recycling and Waste Reduction Commission. “I am proud of the County’s leadership role and the partnerships with Joint Venture Silicon Valley, County staff, Food Recovery Organizations, and all 15 cities in Santa Clara County to create a model ordinance that is such a gamechanger in feeding residents and workers in need.”

The Countywide Food Recovery Steering Committee facilitates coordination among stakeholders (including food banks, government agencies, non-profits, and advocacy groups such as the Restaurant Association) to support increased edible food donations from local supermarkets and restaurants, and develop the infrastructure needed to distribute food efficiently to residents in need. Providing a common food recovery system throughout Santa Clara County makes participation easier for supermarkets, restaurants, and other businesses that operate within multiple cities to manage required donations. It also simplifies the work of food recovery organizations to meet new regulations to contract and report on collection and distribution of donated food.

By recycling and donating surplus edible food, organic materials are kept out of landfills, which results in less methane emissions. Edible food recovery and food waste reduction programs can help save businesses money, and have positive social and environmental impacts.

The Countywide Food Recovery Program will be managed by Joint Venture Silicon Valley through 2024.


In November 2020, the California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) promulgated regulations pursuant to SB 1383 (2016, Lara) to reduce organic waste in landfills.

The regulations require jurisdictions (cities, counties, and special districts) to adopt ordinances by January 1, 2022, and implement programs that will require certain businesses to recover and donate edible food. While each city in Santa Clara County needs to adopt its own ordinance, stakeholders recognized the benefits of collaborating to create a standardized model to be used countywide.

The benefits of this collaboration, which are demonstrated in the recently adopted Ordinance, include:

  • Simplify compliance for businesses. Uniform requirements will make it easier for businesses with facilities in multiple cities to comply with the new State law.
  • Promote food recovery. Food Recovery Organizations benefit from standardized requirements that allow them to allocate their resources efficiently, as they do not normally operate or report on a city-by-city basis.

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The County of Santa Clara government serves a diverse, multi-cultural population of 1.9 million residents in Santa Clara County, California, making it more populous than 14 states in the U.S. The County provides essential services to its residents, including public health protection, environmental stewardship, medical services through the County of Santa Clara Health System, child and adult protection services, homelessness prevention and solutions, roads, park services, libraries, emergency response to disasters, protection of minority communities and those under threat, access to a fair criminal justice system, and many other public benefits.

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Media Contact: Roger Ross, Senior Communications Officer, Consumer & Environmental Protection Agency, (408) 568-3122

Posted: November 16, 2021​