Evan Ehlers is the founder of Sharing Excess, a Philadelphia-based nonprofit that rescues surplus food from grocers, retailers, and wholesalers and distributes it to communities experiencing food insecurity. The organization has partnered with over 400 businesses and nonprofits to provide 12 million meals to more than 250,000 individuals. Ehlers aims to dedicate his life to solving the issues of food waste and scarcity on a global scale.
Ehlers and fellow Drexel students joined forces to combat food insecurity on campus and in the surrounding community by cashing in on extra meal-card swipes and delivering food to those in need. Soon after, Ehlers launched Sharing Excess, a startup dedicated to distributing surplus food from local businesses to surrounding communities. During his entrepreneurship co-op program, Ehlers grew Sharing Excess by building a dedicated team of employees—mostly Drexel students—and community partnerships. Under Ehlers’s leadership, Sharing Excess became the largest food rescue operation in Philadelphia.
Early in the pandemic, Ehlers mobilized his network of paid drivers to collect food from shuttered restaurants and distribute it to his Philadelphia partners who serve the hungry. On the first day, collection yielded about a half-ton of donated food. Within 24 hours of a Philadelphia Inquirer article publication, Sharing Excess received calls from 100 new volunteers. Over the course of the COVID-19 lockdown, team members redistributed over 7.9 million pounds of surplus food that was also saved from landfills. In 2021, within the first six months of a new collaboration with Philadelphia Wholesale Produce Market—a company that distributes fresh produce out of the world’s largest refrigerated building—Sharing Excess redistributed more than 2 million pounds of fresh produce to surrounding communities in need.
Ehlers continues to use these skills to lead and innovate. Through his work, he exemplifies the Close School values of curiosity, excellence, integrity, optimism, resilience, and community, and has been a guest speaker at his alma mater, Drexel University, as well as other colleges and universities.
Since graduating, Ehlers has come to serve as an employer, mentor, and inspiration to many other Drexel students and community members. Sharing Excess recently launched a Food Rescue App that allows community members to schedule pickups and deliveries. The app was developed with the support of a technology team composed of around 15 Drexel co-op students. Sharing Excess also provides employment with flexible hours for students in the form of internships, co-op experiential learning, and part-time positions. Students experience first-hand what it means to be part of a social venture and serve in an impactful way.
Sharing Excess even launched university student chapters with a purpose of engaging students in change by fighting food waste and dismantling the stigma surrounding food insecurity. Chapters are currently active at institutions throughout Philadelphia including Drexel University, University of Pennsylvania, Saint Joseph’s University, and Temple University, and at instutions outside of Pennsylvania including the University of Pittsburgh, Delaware County Community College, and Neumann University. Student chapters participate in events such as educational seminars, food rescue events, and meal swipe donation programs. Articles by and about Ehlers and Sharing Excess have been published in Newsweek, and the Philadelphia Inquirer, and on PerishableNews.com and Medium. Recently, Ehlers and his partner, Victoria Wilson, were honored in the 2023 Forbes 30 Under 30 list of leaders making a social impact.