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Meet Nancy Beyda of FoodCycleLA in Hollywood

Today we’d like to introduce you to Nancy Beyda.

Nancy, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
Over a decade ago, I started out with a group of volunteers from Golden Bridge Yoga – we were picking up food being thrown away by a grocery store and taking it to a shelter for homeless women and children. The first time I went to that store, I was blown away by the amount of food that was getting tossed into the trash. I could only imagine that this was happening at thousands of stores throughout the US. At the same time, I saw all the people who were homeless and hungry on the streets of LA. It seemed crazy to me that we could be throwing away so much food when there were people who could be eating it. I saw how much the food we recovered meant to the shelter where we were bringing it. From that beginning, our nonprofit FoodCycle was born.

Has it been a smooth road?
One of the biggest shocks for me has been discovering that many businesses are just not interested in donating food. They are fine with just throwing it into the trash and it takes a lot of hard work and education to convince them that they should let us take it to feed people. That attitude has always been difficult for me to understand.

We have grown so quickly that it can be challenging to organize all the employees and volunteers needed to pick up food all over the city. Running FoodCycle is a full-time job, but I also work as a midwife and that requires tremendous time and energy. I love what I do and I wouldn’t change a thing, but finding balance is something that I’m always working toward. My yoga practice is a continual source of strength for me amid all this. Really all that I do has grown out of the concept of Seva, or selfless service, that came from my Kundalini yoga training.

We’d love to hear more about your business.
FoodCycle picks up food from grocery stores, restaurants, bakeries and other businesses and delivers it to organizations throughout LA that serve the food insecure. Right now, about forty percent of food in the US is thrown into landfills where it contributes to global warming by releasing methane gas. At the same time, one in eight Americans is food insecure. We’re recovering food but we’re also looking into ways to address some of the gaps and challenges that keep the system broken. We’ve been working on a database of all the different places that people can get food in Los Angeles and developing more effective outreach and education programs that will encourage businesses to donate rather than discard edible food. We’re also developing a program that educates about how to prevent food waste and recognizes participating businesses with a certification.

I’m proud to say that so far this year we’ve served the equivalent of over 97,000 meals and saved 126 metric tons of CO2 emissions.

We are making a difference in the lives of Angelenos suffering from hunger. Just last week, a woman came up to me to share that a family in their low-income housing was too poor to buy a birthday cake for their daughter. We delivered pies that day and they put some candles in one and celebrated – it made me happy to think that we were able to help that struggling family.

Is our city a good place to do what you do?
Los Angeles has a wonderful community of nonprofits like ours that are working together to help end food insecurity and to make sure that everyone in our city has access to healthy foods. This is something we need to work on, especially as there are areas in our city where many of the residents don’t have access to good food. We’re working with other like-minded groups in the LA Food Policy Council and with the Department of Health and Mayor’s office to try to change that.

Contact Info:

  • Address: FoodCycle
    1949 North Wilton Place
    Los Angeles, CA 90068
  • Website: foodcyclela.org
  • Phone: 323 897 9696
  • Email: hello@foodcyclela.org
  • Instagram: @foodcyclela
  • Facebook: #Foodcycle Los Angeles

Image Credit:
RJ Shaugnessy credited for all images except boxes of food on the ground and people unloading shopping carts

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