Dana Frasz of Food Shift Profiled by Mic 50
Food Shift’s goal is to ensure all food is eaten and all people are fed. By working collaboratively to design, implement, and amplify innovative solutions we hope to catalyze action and inspire a systemic shift toward a more just and sustainable use of food.
Since 2012 Food Shift has conducted local and national research to identify gaps in the current food ecosystem that lead to wasted food and has designed and implemented solutions in response. Through our research and experimental action we’ve learned that a more just, sustainable and efficient system that keeps food out of the waste stream and redirected toward people will require: expanded infrastructure for the recovery, processing and redistribution of surplus food; a sustainable revenue model that allows for expansion and job creation; new distribution channels for surplus food; business education and engagement; cross sector collaboration; and government prioritization.
A deep understanding of the complexities within the ecosystem and a passion for innovation, collaboration and systems change is what informs and directs Food Shift’s work. With our pulse on the ever evolving activity in the sector we strategically choose to focus in areas that are difficult and under-represented. We are determined to demonstrate the benefits of investing in effective food recovery and distribution rather than incurring the social, financial, and environmental costs of food disposal. To articulate the benefits of this new system and to show what’s possible we conduct research, design and leverage innovative programs, catalyze stakeholder cooperation, and share knowledge. Through this work we explore new territory, engage necessary allies, model a realistic vision, and inspire a shift toward a more just and sustainable use of food.
A permanent solution to these problems requires a paradigm shift in how we perceive and handle food as individuals, businesses, and society. We pursue innovations that propel lasting systemic change over short-term, piecemeal solutions that reinforce the status quo. We are committed to developing creative solutions that tackle the problem in new ways and have the potential to create sustainable systemic change.
Food Shift has secured a kitchen space and is currently raising funds to launch a social enterprise that will provide job training in the processing of surplus food into healthy affordable food products for the community. Please Donate to make this vision a reality.
From Founder Dana Frasz' recent profile in Mic50:
Dana doesn’t want you to throw your leftovers in the trash after dinner. Forty percent of all food in the U.S. is thrown out even though 1 in every 6 Americans is hungry — and Dana wants to change this. As Founder and Director of Food Shift, she’s working to not only eliminate food waste, she’s also looking for a way to make that sustainable. Food Shift is working to alter the traditional paradigm of food recovery from a charity-based solution to a solution that is sustainable and has the potential to create jobs. She’s working to create a professional food recovery service sector that manages the collection and redistribution of surplus edible food from businesses to people in need. Dana started a model of this in her Oakland community and hopes to expand elsewhere so that more people in the U.S. are able to go to sleep with a full stomach.
What do you want to accomplish in the next five years?
Food Shift is a small team doing big things with only two full-time staff. Building the capacity of our team is a top priority so we can expand our impact and meet the demand for our work. We are securing partners and looking for funding to launch a centralized kitchen, similar to LA Kitchen, where we will provide jobs in the processing of food from farms that would otherwise be wasted.
What’s an everyday tip to help reduce food waste?
Lots of tips to reduce your waste and save money!
What major change or innovation makes you excited about the future?
It is truly a gift to be alive at this moment. We are in a time of great transformation and opportunity where collectively we have the power to shape the next system. The line between sectors is blurring, and it’s clear that solutions for the complex challenges of our times will be most effective and sustainable when nonprofits, businesses and government work together with community to best utilize the skills and resources each bring to the table. I'm excited to be a part of the growing movement to develop new strategies that tackle wasted food and hunger.
What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
In 2011, I was faced with the tough decision of leaving a job I loved at Ashoka or moving to Maine to be with the man I loved. My mom told me to follow my heart. Choosing love and taking that leap is what propelled the launch of Food Shift. Take risks, trust your gut, do what makes you come alive, surround yourself with those who inspire you and go where the people dance.