The City of Palmdale’s South Antelope Valley Emergency Services (SAVES), located at 1002 E. Ave. Q-9, has received a second industrial-quality tent from Hitachi Zosen Inova (HZI), a multinational corporation that converts organic waste into renewable gas and hydrogen.
SAVES is one of Hitachi’s Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) partners in a CalRecycle ORG4 grant.
The new tent, along with the first one donated and built in 2020, offers the SAVES staff much needed protection from harsh desert valley winds, sun, and occasional rain as they distribute food to needy families. The HZI tents also help protect the food stock as SAVES is also a food rescue organization that takes perfectly good food that for various reasons has been discarded by big box stores or grocery chains and channels it directly to those facing food insecurity.
HZI will ultimately be able to convert even the food that SAVES cannot repurpose into clean hydrogen fuel. The company is developing an anaerobic digestion plant in Palmdale/Lancaster, a large project that diverts organic waste from Waste Management's landfill and converts it into renewable natural gas and hydrogen.
To further help preserve perishable food stock, the CalRecycle grant will allow HZI to purchase a hydrogen-fueled refrigerated truck for SAVES to transport fresh produce from retailers as far away as downtown Los Angeles to distribution points in Palmdale—especially helpful during the hot summer months when local temperatures often exceed 110 degrees Fahrenheit.
The relationship between HZI and Palmdale began in the fall of 2020 with the pandemic raging and large numbers of disadvantaged community members losing jobs. SAVES was called upon to serve more families than ever, helping the needy throughout the Antelope Valley. Lines of cars waiting for food rescue packages on Tuesdays and Thursdays stretched for blocks. Federal aid meant supplies of fresh food like milk and produce streamed in and needed to be distributed quickly.
To create a buffer between SAVES and the car lines, HZI built an industrial-quality tent covering that could withstand the strong winds in the valley, protecting both workers and the boxes of food from the weather. That tent served SAVES well until the fall of 2021 when federal unemployment benefits began expiring, creating a new and even larger demand from families now traveling in by car and bus. To accommodate that surge, HZI constructed another long tent enclosure extending to the end of the building and doubling the covered outdoor capacity.
“HZI’s partnership with SAVES demonstrates the circular economy in action,” said Palmdale Mayor Steve Hofbauer. “In addition to the construction of the tents, which preserve food and staff, the development of the plant to create hydrogen fuel from food waste and the CalRecycle grant purchase of a hydrogen fueled refrigerated truck to further prevent food waste will have positive impacts on the economy and environment.”
SAVES provides a practical and caring approach to serving people in need. The SAVES program was started by the City of Palmdale in 1983 to assist individuals and families who are experiencing a temporary emergency situation. The day-to-day operations of SAVES and staffing are funded by the City of Palmdale through Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) and Emergency Food and Shelter Program (EFSP). Food is provided through a collaboration with the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank, federal programs, and the daily contributions of local markets, stores, and restaurants. SAVES provides food assistance with the help of key community partners and provides 1,200 to 1,500 food orders a week to families in the Antelope Valley.