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  • Writer's pictureRosa Hernandez

Staff Spotlight: Hillary Bryant

Updated: Jul 2

“I have a lot of hope for the future of Waste Not. I hope Waste Not becomes a community name. That when restaurants or hotels have excess food and don’t want it to go to waste, they think of us. That Waste Not will be the first thing people think of as a solution to food waste.” - Hillary Bryant, Executive Director of Waste Not.

Hillary behind the scenes of the Daily Mix for National Pita Day
Hillary (pictured left) behind the scenes of a media shoot.

Hillary Bryant is a fourth generation Arizonan with a love for horseback riding, photography, hiking, and more. She has also been a part of Waste Not for nearly four years. You’ve probably seen her on the news speaking about us or even remember her from local and national panels. She loves to talk about Waste Not and the work we’re doing to eliminate food waste and hunger in Arizona.

Hillary began at Waste Not as the Community Engagement Manager in 2020. In the middle of a shut down when the community was keeping its distance. 

Despite this challenge, Hillary powered through.

She was able to get our MealConnect program off the ground, and through the food-rescue based app, Waste Not partnered with Valley of the Sun United Way to pick up snack packs for school programs. 

Hillary posing in front of Waste Not vehicle with a MealConnect donation.
Hillary with a MealConnect donation.

She was also able to engage with the Granite Reef Senior Center.

“We implemented a grocery delivery service for seniors, which was important work because otherwise they wouldn't have had fresh food to eat,” says Hillary. “They would have had to rely on shelf stable items that aren’t as nutritious as say an apple or a salad.”

Most of the seniors were unable to leave their homes due to illness, mobility, or transportation being shut down. 

Hillary with a salad from Salad and Go at Empty Bowls 2022.
Hillary with a salad from Salad and Go.

Hillary recalls that during her early days at Waste Not - pivoting was a normal thing and change was constant, but she also remembers how communities came together.

“There were still a lot of people that were working, and we tried to help keep those community connections alive,” Hillary remembers. “Our Salad and Go partnership was born during the pandemic because they wanted to help give meals to people who were struggling. Even though there was a shut down there was still a lot of good being done.“

Jumping forward, Hillary accepted the role of Executive Director of Waste Not in 2021. She stepped in because of her passion for the work Waste Not does in helping people and the planet flourish.

Her passion for the environment began as a child of the 90’s when recycling, Greenpeace, saving the rainforest, and Free Willy were all the rage. She also struggled with food insecurity herself. As a child of a single mother, her access to food was limited and often she and her sister had to be creative when making something to eat. 

In her teen years, Hillary would become invested in volunteerism - making blankets for the unhoused and helping organize activities for the Buddy Walk for Down Syndrome. Then in college, she graduated with her bachelor’s in Public Health from Northern Arizona University combining her love for science and her desire to find solutions that leave things better not just for the one, but for the many.

Hillary with AZ Clay Association at Empty Bowls 2022
Hillary at Empty Bowls 2022.

Hillary’s childhood and early adult life were formative in her pursuing a path to change the lives of Arizonans through her work at Waste Not and in the community. She has been recognized many times for her work, including being named one of the Phoenix Business Journal’s 40 under 40 winners of 2023. She was also named a Maricopa County Climate and Health Champion in 2021 for the building and scaling of our MealConnect program, which for her was “a really great moment to look back and reflect on what I had done for the past year before I stepped in as Executive Director”. 

Hillary helping out affiliate UFB.
Hillary volunteering.

When asked what has been most impactful for her during her years at Waste Not, she recalls many times when the team and community partners came together to pull off major food rescues. But one memory that sticks out to her - four years later - comes from her ride-along with Tim, a driver at Waste Not, during her first week.

She recalls driving with Tim through Downtown Phoenix through a very impoverished neighborhood and seeing extreme hardship with her own eyes. 

“I just remember this moment when I was in Tim's truck and I felt a punch to the gut. Seeing how much need there is in my own community and, if you're not reminded of it, how easy it is to forget.”

Hillary’s hope to have Waste Not be a community name is well on its way to being a reality. From picking up from the Super Bowl to the World Series to our upcoming food rescue from the Final Four tournament, Waste Not continues to serve those in our community who need it most while saving good food from ending up in the landfill. 

Waste Not vehicle at Super Bowl State Farm Stadium
Waste Not vehicle at State Farm Stadium after Super Bowl LVII.

To donate to Waste Not, click here.

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