One Kitchen Aims to Upcycle Food Waste and Employ the Poor

The Alameda Kitchen will take unwanted fruits and vegetables and turn them into meals for a good cause.
(Photo: Food Shift/Facebook)
Nov 12, 2015· 1 MIN READ
TakePart editorial fellow Nicole Mormann covers a variety of topics, including social justice, entertainment, and environment.

Often, food that’s wasted is something as simple as a bruised apple or a crooked carrot, but just because it doesn’t meet grocery store cosmetic standards doesn’t mean it can’t be eaten.

Using that food to feed people living in poverty is the idea behind the Alameda Kitchen, a food business model developed by the Oakland, California–based nonprofit Food Shift that’s working to develop sustainable solutions for reducing food waste in the San Francisco Bay Area.

The kitchen will take fruits and vegetables from grocery stores, local growers, and the community that typically get tossed in the trash and turn them into nutritious meals and food products for those who can’t afford the pricey packaged foods sold in stores. Food Shift plans to start cooking up meals in April 2016.

“Our passion lies in feeding those people who are struggling in our community,” Dana Frasz, the founder and director of Food Shift, told TakePart. “Everyone deserves good nutrition, and we’re doing a disservice if we’re pumping bad food into our community.”

Frasz and her team are planning to work with the nonprofit Hope Collaborative, which is getting healthy food into Oakland and Bay Area corner stores that lack nutritious meal options.

Food Shift is planning to use the kitchen at Alameda Point Collaborative—a nonprofit housing center for formerly homeless people and families—to create affordable, healthy food products and provide job training to those living there.

“It’s not about just charity but helping people sustain a nutritious lifestyle,” said Frasz. “We want to influence the trainees so they can influence their families and show them how to be more nutritious while reducing food waste.”

The revenue generated from the food sold will help provide fair wages to resident workers and allow Food Shift to expand its food waste reduction program beyond the Alameda Kitchen. One goal is to move into a larger kitchen and establish a café in 2017, Frasz said.

One in nine people in the world do not have enough food to lead a healthy life, and yet on a national scale, more than one-third of all the food that Americans eat is wasted, according to the U.S Department of Agriculture. That’s 133 billion pounds that could feed entire populations facing the threat of food scarcity every day.