Special Projects


Food Finders

The Crail-Johnson Foundation provided support for the Food Rescue and Distribution program, which picks up donated food and distributes it directly to agencies that serve needy and impoverished communities.

Food Finders is a dynamic food rescue non-profit organization that is committed to the dual mission of alleviating hunger and minimizing food waste. Based in Orange County, California, Food Finders plays a pivotal role in the community by coordinating the daily collection of surplus food from a variety of sources, including grocers, restaurants, hospitals, schools, and manufacturers. This rescued food is then swiftly distributed to non-profit recipients such as pantries, shelters, youth programs, and senior centers. It serves as nourishing hot meals or essential grocery distributions for individuals facing food insecurity.

The organization's Food Rescue Program is a testament to its dedication, ensuring that millions of pounds of nutritious food find their way to those in need rather than ending up in landfills. Anchored by its headquarters in Orange County, Food Finders extends its reach across multiple Southern California counties. With the unwavering support of a vast network of volunteers, Food Finders consistently rescues enough food to provide a staggering 30,000 meals every day.

Food Finders' origins trace back to the year 1989 when Arlene Mercer, the founder, initiated the organization right from her kitchen table. She harnessed the support of a small group of volunteers to organize the collection of surplus restaurant food that would otherwise be discarded. This food was redirected to nourish people in local shelters. Arlene's dedication, combined with education about the Good Samaritan Food Donation Act and California Health Code, catapulted the organization into a leader in the field of food recovery long before the concept gained widespread recognition. By her retirement in 2011, Food Finders had already become the largest food rescue non-profit in California.

The core values of Food Finders, integral to its identity, are as follows:

  1. Community: Food Finders' strength lies in collaborating with its community of food donors, volunteers, and partner agencies. The organization believes in utilizing its time, skills, and capabilities to support those in need.
  2. Responsibility: Food Finders acknowledges its societal and environmental responsibilities, evident in its efforts to reduce waste, rescue food, and advocate for policies that address the roots of unequal access to nutritious food and the causes of food waste.
  3. Adaptability: Food Finders prioritizes adaptability and learning, remaining open to change to best serve the community.
  4. Integrity: The organization's commitment to integrity guides every aspect of its work. Food Finders unwaveringly upholds its ethical and moral standards, even in challenging situations and when faced with less ethical options.

Food Finders is a beacon of hope, ensuring that food not only sustains the hungry but also conserves the environment, embodies community values, and upholds the highest ethical standards.


  • Eliminate Hunger
  • Eliminate Food Waste
  • Improve Nutrition in food-insecure communities
We envision a community with zero hunger and zero food waste
We strive to make a positive impact on our community, the policies that govern it, and the environment we live in.
We go above and beyond our duty to address the evolving needs of those we serve and take our responsibility seriously in addressing the root causes of hunger and food waste.
We pride ourselves on doing what is right and providing transparency, while being a collaborative partner that is open to other perspectives and opinions.
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