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Jesus Center to cut food waste while upping service & quality

18% of Butte County residents don't know where their next meal is coming form - that's higher than in San Francisco, San Diego and even Los Angeles County.

Posted: Jan 31, 2018 5:34 PM
Updated: Jan 31, 2018 6:28 PM

"It's honestly one of the most important things that we have out here is for people to know that they can go to the Jesus Center and get something to eat. I can't tell you how many times I've run into people on the street and they haven't eaten in 2 days," said Jeremy Fowler, a Chico local who relies on the Jesus Center's services to get by.

18% of Butte County residents don't know where their next meal is coming form - that's higher than in San Francisco, San Diego and even Los Angeles County.

All the while, 6 million tons of food gets thrown away in California every year!

"How is this the problem? ... It really boiled down to, it looked like it was a distribution problem," said Laura Cootsona, executive director of the Jesus Center.

Meal and resource provider, the Jesus Center in Chico applied for a grant to reduce food waste, instead diverting it to the hungry through local food banks - or right from their own kitchen.

"The people that beg for change, if they're legitimately hungry, they all know they can come here and eat, and that's important," said Fowler.

Hundreds rely on the Jesus Center for daily meals - but there's some quiet muttering around town about food quality.

"That has to be the #1 thing that people talk about is the repetitiveness or the plainness of the food, but you can't beg and choose, right?" said Fowler.

The director made it clear that they just can't serve expired food. But the grant will help prevent it from happening along the transportation route.

"We don't want people dropping food off that's been in their car, we want refrigerated transportation, so this will improve any possible quality issues," said Cootsona.

A big chunk of the money will help revamp the kitchen.

"We're lucky if just one of ovens is working right now, all sorts of hands tied behind our backs right now, so to go from serving 200 to 400 in our current kitchen would be difficult," said Cootsona.

Another great aspect of the new equipment is they'll be able to pack it up and move it to a new location at some point in the next couple of years.

"It means everything to all of us, this is where we come to get our services, help to get in homes, to eat when we're hungry," said local service user "Tamantha".

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