About the Program
The Food Shift Kitchen is an innovative social enterprise that keeps good food out of landfills, nourishes communities, and addresses the root causes of food insecurity by creating jobs for those that need them most.
Using fresh fruit and vegetables from farms, grocers, and distributors that would otherwise be discarded as surplus or due to imperfections, The Kitchen team creates nutritious meals and preserved products that are donated to food insecure communities or sold to local businesses to generate revenue for the program.
Check out this video to see the operation in action and hear about the Kitchen’s impact from our Culinary Educator and Kitchen Apprentice.
Where We Are Located
The Food Shift Kitchen is housed at Alameda Point Collaborative (APC), a housing community in the City of Alameda for previously unhoused individuals. In the Kitchen, we train and employ APC residents, the majority of whom are unemployed and living below the poverty line. Find directions to the Food Shift kitchen on our Contact page.
How It Works
By rescuing surplus food and bringing it into the Kitchen, we transform discarded food into nourishing meals that feed people in our community— from food insecure residents, to mission-aligned organizations, to our own team at family meal. We provide catering to local businesses, which allows us to subsidize products at low costs for agencies that serve food insecure populations and pay fair wages for trainees.
Our Kitchen runs a 6 month culinary training program that trains and employs APC residents, the majority of whom are currently unemployed and living below the poverty line. In the first 3 months, apprentices learn skills and increase their confidence in the kitchen, with the option of participating in full-time catering production during the second 3 months. Kitchen apprentices learn valuable work-ready skills to support future employment and their long-term economic security.
APC residents face multiple challenges. All families are homeless when they apply to live at APC, all heads of household have a disability, and many are either survivors of domestic violence or veterans. 99% of APC residents have incomes below the poverty line and the majority of residents use the food bank and/or depend on low cost, often highly processed foods – leading to high rates of diet-related diseases in the community. Only 10-15% of the APC population is employed. Many residents feel isolated from the broader community and stuck in their socioeconomic position.
Food Shift cares deeply about ending the cycle of poverty and hunger at APC and beyond. APC residents want to get back to work, and the Kitchen provides the hands-on-experience and resources to support that transition. The Food Shift Kitchen is integrated with APC’s existing on-the-job training program (OJT) and serves as a bridge program, employing and providing additional work experience and culinary training to OJT graduates before they enter the workforce. The Food Shift Kitchen supports APC residents in acquiring the necessary hard and soft skills to kickstart a culinary career.
The Food Shift Kitchen is not only an engine for job creation and waste reduction, but also a unique social enterprise model. We love catering for mission-aligned companies. Learn more about our catering services for weekly contracts, special events, and conferences. Let us feed you!
Shifting the Food Recovery Paradigm
Currently, most food recovery groups are funded by grants and volunteer contributions. This charity model limits their ability to hire staff, develop capacity, and build necessary infrastructure to meet demand. Financially sustainable food recovery models are necessary in order for the sector to scale, grow, and become more professional and coordinated.
This is where our social enterprise enters the picture. Our model integrates education, environmental sustainability, and workforce development as part of a holistic vision of creating healthy communities and sustainable business models. All revenue generated from our catering program is reinvested back into our food recovery and workforce development programs. We believe thousands of people can be employed in the food efficiency sector, and revenue generated from programs like ours can be reinvested into improving the system.
The Food Shift Kitchen is designed to impact not only our local community, but also the broader food system and food recovery sector. The Food Shift Kitchen program is scalable and replicable, and our kitchen serves as a vital model for counterparts in our region and across the U.S. In addition to our hands-on work, Food Shift has been a thought leader in the food waste movement. Through consultations with local government and strategic conversations with local businesses, we are redefining food recovery as a service that ought to be paid for and valued as a critical part of the waste management system.
How you can help:
Volunteer in the kitchen. We need all hands on deck to make our work possible, so come get involved. Volunteer with us!
Check out our promo video
Check out our blog to learn about our 2019 cohort of Kitchen apprentices, their stories, and how their Kitchen experiences have affected their lives.
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