Since the announcement that Orange Coast College's physical campus would be closed until further notice, Coast faculty and volunteers have packaged thousands of meals to be donated to local families in need, as well as Costa Mesa homeless shelters and assisted living facilities.
The effort started with the unexpected closure of campus on Sunday, March 15, when OCC's food services program was left with more than 1,8000 lbs of unused food that would normally be used in its on-campus dining facilities and culinary arts instructional programs. Fortunately, instructor Alexandra Yates had the perfect solution already in place: OCC's Food Recovery Kitchen.
Created more than a year ago as part of the College's Food Services program, the Recovery Kitchen was initially started with the goal of reducing food insecurity among OCC's student population. "Our main purpose is to lower our campus's food waste and food insecurity among out students," says Yates. "We partner with Pirate's Cove [food pantry] on campus, along with the support from the Culinary Arts Program, Cafeteria Services, Nutrition and Dietetics, Horticulture and other programs."
Since mid-March, Yates and her team of volunteers have packaged thousands of meals for the community. With OCC's campus closed, the team has moved to kitchen facilities at the Marconi Automotive Museum in Tustin. Yates, who serves on the advisory board for Waste Not OC, has enlisted the support from local venues and community partners that have leftover unused food, such as the Brea Improv Club, White House Catering, as well as companies that provide refrigeration and packaging, like Sysco Riverside and 4 Blue Waves.
For updates, follow Yates on Instagram at www.instagram.com/occ_food_recovery