‘Climate controllers’: La Jolla Girl Scouts help food rescue mission to fight hunger and climate change

Cassady Donovan, Korryn Clothier, Arianna Arfaa, Margot Peay and Emerson Dotts
Cassady Donovan, Korryn Clothier, Arianna Arfaa, Margot Peay and Emerson Dotts show off their Climate Controllers Food Rescue Patches after a volunteer shift at Feeding San Diego.
(Courtesy of Dana Williams)

Five La Jolla Girl Scouts became “climate controllers” when they volunteered with Feeding San Diego and earned the new Scouts “food rescue” patch.

More than 60 San Diego Girl Scouts got together April 30 to sort, evaluate and pack food to be distributed to San Diegans facing hunger. In doing so, they earned their Climate Controller Food Rescue Patch. The La Jolla Scouts who participated are second-graders Arianna Arfaa, Korryn Clothier, Cassady Donovan, Emerson Dotts and Margot Peay.

The curriculum associated with the patch, co-authored by Bird Rock resident and Feeding San Diego marketing and communications director Dana Williams in partnership with solar services provider Solv Energy, is part of Feeding San Diego’s “Feed People, Not Landfills” campaign, which launched in April.

Williams said the effort is intended to “educate and inspire the next generation of amazing girls to help understand the connection between food waste and climate change. We want them to understand they can all be climate controllers by taking action. This badge helps them understand what they can do at home by maybe helping their parents shop and only buying what they need or thinking a little differently about that banana that is starting to bruise. Even if they don’t want to eat it, they can make banana bread or put it in a smoothie.”

During the girls’ volunteer shift, “we separated the good food from the bad food and put good foods in bags to give to the community and the bad foods we gave to farms [to feed their livestock],” Korryn said. The “bad food” was produce deemed unacceptable for human consumption.

Williams said Feeding San Diego follows the steps to reduce food waste outlined by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency: feed people, feed livestock and compost before throwing produce in the trash. To distribute the “rescued” food appropriately, Feeding San Diego has partnerships with local farms so food unacceptable for humans can go to livestock or composting.

The girls also learned about the connection between food waste and climate change.

“Eight percent of global greenhouse gases is contributed by food waste, so reducing waste through food rescue is one of the easiest ways to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions,” Williams said. “When organic waste hits the landfill, it creates methane gas, one of the leading contributors of climate change.”

Emerson said she learned that “when you throw away trash, it goes into landfills. I thought it went somewhere else. I also learned that [through reducing food waste] we have the power to make a difference for our community and our environment.”

Cassady said she had fun and that “it made me feel really good to know that neighbors that were hungry could get food.”

“It made me really happy to help save the environment,” Arianna said.

Margot said she wants to tell her friends and classmates about small changes they can make to be “climate controllers” themselves.

“People can make a difference by not throwing away as much food and only buying what you need so it doesn’t end up in a landfill,” she said. ◆