Petaluma Bounty Hunters has been uncharacteristically quiet this season because we didn’t receive funding for a coordinator and were unable to find volunteers that wanted to step into a leadership role of coordination. These are not unheard of barriers. But when our farm manager took another (great) job this summer, I (Suzi) was forced to refocus my efforts on the Bounty Farm instead of lending myself to the organizing efforts of Bounty Hunters.
Networks of volunteers are amazing (as we all know) and the Bounty Hunters is a long-standing program of Petaluma Bounty that leverages community resources efficiently. Over the past 10 years, this network of volunteers has recovered, harvested, or delivered over 650,000 pounds of food that would otherwise go to waste. That’s amazing! (For more information on Bounty Hunters, click here).
The Bounty Hunters is part of a larger network of emergency food providers that get food to people in need throughout Southern Sonoma County. Though we haven’t had the people power to coordinate harvests regularly this season, below are some of the ways that we continue to support emergency food outlets.
-Drivers pick up unsold produce from farmers’ markets and deliver to our network of service providers.
-Bounty farm staff donate our produce on a regular basis via farmers’ markets and weekly routes that include First Light Farm.
-I, Suzi Grady, continue to educate regulators on the unintended impacts and unnecessary burdens of laws and policies (See: Bounty Blog on AB 1990, Follow up summary on Bill AB 1219).
-Petaluma Bounty is a founding and active member of the Sonoma County Food Recovery Coalition (whose original intent it was to support food recovery groups to expand our capacity, seek funding together, and do public education campaigns about food waste and recovery).
-Educate donors on good practices and where they can drop donations as well as support local drop sites (See Drop Site Locations).
Looking into the future:
The landscape is changing for food recovery practitioners and food waste activists. It is for that reason that Bounty spearheaded the collaboration with CropMobster in getting an online directory of donation sites listed on their food and farming online platform (think craigslist for food). For a few stories about our work in launching this shared resource see MadeLocal Magazine and The Press Democrat or our own blog post and video.
It is important that we assert that donations and our community value of sharing extra with those in need should be incorporated into this new technology frontier. Please note, I am not saying that an App or web platform will replace the need for community groups that sustain food recovery networks; but that we need to be represented there too. Bounty is spearheading a campaign to “Reinvigorate the Sharing Ethic”; if you’re interested in this conversation, feel free to download this piece.
Locally, the landscape will also be changing as COTS shifts their focus away from emergency food distribution as a homelessness prevention strategy. Many service providers have relied upon COTS to be a depot/local hub of emergency food for years. They have tirelessly provided food for the greater community for years but did not receive sustained support to keep this crucial service going. Further, as regulations increase, it is becoming more difficult for groups to qualify as a food bank. The Redwood Empire Food Bank will provide a drop site but it is not clear how our network will re-calibrate without COTS holding the center, coordinating drivers, and providing refrigeration and storage.
There is no technology replacement for a coordinator of the Bounty Hunters and the need to convene and support emergency food providers continues to grow. Thus, we will continue to fund-raise and write grants for this key position and we welcome your ideas on this topic.
Suzi and the Bounty Team