BioCycle first discovered Waste Not OC in 2016 when we invited the organization to be part of a Food Waste Prevention and Rescue Workshop co-hosted with CalRecycle at the BioCycle West Coast Conference in San Diego, California. Dr. Eric Handler, then the Public Health Officer for Orange County (CA), had joined forces with Mark Lowry, director of the Orange County Food Bank to form Waste Not Orange County with the goal of eliminating hunger and reducing food waste by facilitating donation of wholesome surplus food from food producing facilities, including restaurants and caterers, to local pantries. It created a repurposing kitchen network which leverages excess capacity at industrial kitchens, including restaurants and educational institutions, to create flavorful, nutritionally balanced ready-to- heat-and-eat meals using donated excess edible food. It also pioneered a pickup/delivery service for excess edible food using a local cab company.
Waste Not OC was rebranded as Abound Food Care in 2021. The organization celebrated its 10-year anniversary in November 2022 and continues to innovate new solutions including the use of self-sustaining solar powered freezer containers as part of an emergency meal program used by municipalities to both prepare for disasters and supplement programs to support community members facing food insecurity. One of the goals when transitioning to the name Abound Food Care was to expand services throughout California and around the country to provide solutions and facilitate collaboration with the public, private, and nonprofit sectors to guide and support implementation of regional food care programs that optimize the supply chain to end hunger and food waste. The organization partners with cities, counties, and states to consult, oversee, or manage food care programs. By optimizing the food supply chain and reducing food waste, Abound Food Care helps jurisdictions meet statewide mandates.