Hungry for Change: Shifting Food Waste into Community Solutions

Authors: Dana Frasz

All change starts with a powerful idea. The powerful idea you are about to read comes from Dana Frasz, the winner of Green For All's "Recipes for Change" contest as part of the Keep It Fresh education campaign which recently came to a close. Her project "Food Shift," which she is launching in Oakland, CA, received the most "Likes" on Facebook. It addresses the issues of climate change, hunger, and unemployment all at the same time.

Nearly 50% of the food produced in the United States is wasted. This comes at an enormously high social, environmental and financial cost as the economy is struggling, 49 million Americans are living in poverty, and climate change is rapidly intensifying. Food waste squanders water, depletes soil, wastes fossil fuels and adds greatly to the world’s carbon footprint. There is a growing trend in America around environmental awareness, social consciousness and making sustainable food choices. Yet, food waste is still being left out of the conversation. Groups are talking about the importance of the soil, production, processing, localizing, investing and the distribution of food but are not yet examining the sad fate of half of our food. We need to understand the consequences of all this wasted food and begin to shift this widespread problem into an opportunity. That is where Food Shift comes in.

Food Shift seeks to create a new model for food recovery that benefits the community and the environment through maximizing value of otherwise wasted food. Food Shift will collect unwanted good quality food from local food establishments and deliver it to local food assistance centers that feed low income and food insecure populations. As a key part of this process, Food Shift will have an educational job training program, much like the culinary training program at DC Central Kitchen. By trimming our waste and recovering food with programs like Food Shift, we can feed the hungry, improve public health, create jobs, combat global warming, conserve natural resources and create more conscious, healthful and sustainable communities.

Environmental and social consciousness is on the rise in America and people are craving a more just, healthful and sustainable food system. People on both the supply and demand side of food are recognizing that the ecological limits of nature are real and they are adjusting their decisions and purchasing habits accordingly. Food Shift fits firmly within this changing culture and is a tangible way for both consumers and businesses to invest in the environment and their community. With access to large customer bases, there is enormous potential for restaurants, grocery stores and catering companies to act as leaders in their communities. Food Shift will inspire increased consciousness within the food industry and will help businesses transform their DNA to include community, social and environmental well being.

Our current levels of food waste and population growth can not coexist much longer and our planet’s demographics will eventually force us to be more efficient with our food. Out of respect for the earth, its people and future generations, we need to make better use of the food we produce. I’ve been hungry for this change for years and am ready to make it happen.

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