Food Shift, a non-profit organization based in the Bay Area, is jump starting a kitchen in order to tackle multiple societal woes: food waste, hunger, and unemployment.
America is currently faced with a crisis in food waste. Approximately 40% of all the food produced in the United States is thrown into landfills each year.
Meanwhile, over 50 million Americans are not sure when their next meal will be.
Over 1 million people in California alone remain unemployed.
How can this troubling conundrum be addressed?
Enter Dana Frasz, founder of Food Shift in Oakland, California. Food Shift works collaboratively with communities, businesses, and governments in order to develop long-term, sustainable solutions to reduce food waste, provide food for low income individuals, and create jobs.
For the past four years, Food Shift has been successful in identifying multiple sources in California’s East Bay that are in need of food recovery including grocery stores, markets, and local farms. Food products and produce are often discarded because they do not meet specific cosmetic standards or they are marked as expired, even though they are still perfectly good to eat. The organization also connected with numerous programs in need of food products—after-school programs, senior care facilities, and food pantries. The only piece missing was a kitchen space in order to prepare the rescued food items into edible products.
Through a joint effort with Alameda Point Collaborative (ACP), a housing program for the previously homeless on a former naval base that happens to have an unoccupied commercial kitchen, Food Shift will begin running a kitchen space to transform recovered foods. Under the name Alameda Kitchen, Food Shift will take fruits and vegetables that are typically discarded by local grocery stores, growers, and the community and transform them into delicious and nutritious meals and food products for underserved populations.
Food Shift launched a crowd source campaign through indiegogo in October of this year to garner funding for the Alameda Kitchen. They met their $30,000.00 goal just this last month.
The Alameda Kitchen will benefit the directives of both Food Shift and the ACP. In utilizing the kitchen facilities at the ACP housing community, the Alameda Kitchen will provide much needed job training and employment to the formerly homeless residents of ACP. Recognizing that providing food alone won’t solve the hunger problem, Frasz hopes that the Alameda Kitchen will empower APC residents and lead to further employment opportunities down the line.
“It’s not enough to just feed people,” said Frasz. “People need more than food, and we need to provide an opportunity for that.”
The Alameda Kitchen is set to launch in April of 2016. In the meantime, Frasz and her people will be busy with program planning, continued fundraising, partnership developing, testing food products, and receiving business advice from the Stanford Alumni Consultant Team (ACT).
Food Shift and the Alameda Kitchen are not alone in their efforts to combat food waste, hunger, and joblessness. The organization follows a model similar to LA Kitchen and DC Central Kitchen where food donated from hospitality businesses is used for culinary job training. Frasz hails that the model for food recovery and redistribution has the potential for broad application. “The program is grounded in Alameda, but it is what could be happening everywhere. This is an example of what could happen in our communities.”