Dana Frasz '06

Oakland, CA, Food Fighter

Dana Frasz

Dana Frasz '06 spent most of her evenings at Sarah Lawrence trying to solve a problem that troubled her from her first meal at Bates Dining Hall: What to do with all the perfectly good food going to waste? At the end of each day, Frasz and volunteers in the program she started, Empty Bellies, collected excess food from Bates and from local businesses and delivered it to Part of the Solution, a Bronx-based organization that feeds the hungry.

“We believe that food recovery can actually be a professional service sector.”

But Frasz learned addressing the problem of wasted food requires more than a few good-hearted souls collecting day-old rolls and bruised bananas. It requires a new way of thinking, which she has sparked through Food Shift, the nonprofit she started in Oakland, California, 
in 2012. Like Empty Bellies, Food Shift also recovers leftover food from grocery stores, but it has a larger mission. “We believe that food recovery can actually be a professional service sector as an extension of our current waste management system, and as a way to create jobs,” she says.

Food Shift was hired by neighboring Santa Clara County to advise local leaders on ways to improve food redistribution and reduce hunger. Andronico’s Community Markets, a local grocery chain, also hired Food Shift to establish a food donation and waste tracking system. Food Shift showed Andronico’s it could save $27,000 a year on disposal bills, because its donation program would result in one less pickup a week.

“Everyone knows that donating food is the right thing to do for the environment and for the community,” Frasz says. “But our program painted a different picture that showed this isn’t just good for the planet and people, this is good for the bottom line.”