meet the ‘spoonfuls team

Have you spotted a Lovin’ Spoonfuls vehicle driving around town recently? Ever wondered about the person sitting in the drivers seat? Here’s your chance to learn all about the Lovin’ Spoonfuls team! Meet Jeremy and Meg, our faithful drivers carrying out the Lovin’ Spoonfuls mission on the road each day, and Emma, who’s holding down the fort in the office. Don’t be afraid to say hello if you ever cross paths with Jeremy or Meg on the road!

Jeremy Zeitlin, Haul Manager

How did you arrive at Lovin’ Spoonfuls?
Having worked in many different jobs since I was young, I’d scoured the non-profit game for openings for years every time I was between work.  When I saw that Spoonfuls was looking for help, I jumped at the chance to be a part of such a worthy cause.

Describe a typical work day. How does your job differ from the average truck driver?
As Haul Manager, I spend a lot of hours coordinating schedules and working with current and prospective partners— both vendors and beneficiaries— in order to better ensure that the food which might otherwise go to waste in Boston finds a good, grateful home.  As far as the actual hauling goes, there is an interpersonal dimension that goes far beyond simple collection and distribution.  On a daily basis, I interact directly with many of the people who benefit from what we do.  Part of Lovin’ Spoonfuls’ mission is to be more than just a delivery service; we don’t want to just be a faceless donor, our drivers strive to demonstrate that they care about what they’re doing— and that starts with making our work a human interaction.  It’s about People Helping People.

What’s the strangest/most exotic food item you’ve picked up from a vendor?
Probably the most exotic thing I’ve picked up was a case of Rambutan.  Rambutan is a fruit that’s seen a bit more regularly in Southeast Asia and Caribbean cuisine— it’s commonly used to make jam, but I’d never seen one around these parts before.  They’re pretty cool looking, they have a spiny outer shell… they look kind of like a doggie chew toy. Tasty.

What are some of your favorite tunes/radio stations that you listen to on the road?
A nearly impossible question for me.  I don’t listen to the radio much, but music is a big part of my day.  Bluegrass is probably the most common thing you’ll hear coming out of the cockpit, but I’m a sucker for ‘70s funk and some good jazz.  My favorite Pandora stations are a great, young bluegrass band called The Infamous Stringdusters and a jazz/funk outfit named Stuff.  My taste is pretty eclectic, though, ranging from Doc Watson to The Kinks to The Band to Frank Zappa.  That said, the most common band you’d hear when my vehicle drives by is The Grateful Dead, my all-time favorite band— and I even named both of our trucks after Dead tunes.

Do your friends and family consider you a good cook? Any signature recipes?
I like to think they consider me a good cook.  My mother is one of the best cooks I’ve ever known, so I spend as much time as I can learning from her.  When I was a kid, I either wanted to be a filmmaker or a chef, so even from a young age I was obsessed with every detail of cooking, down to meticulous presentation.  I’m a big fan of craft beer, so I like to pair food and drink.  Whether my friends would say I’m a good cook or not probably depends on how adventurous of a meal I’m trying out on them; I think experimentation is crucial to the advancement of Home Cooking Skills.  I have yet to make anyone sick, if that’s what you’re asking.

Signature dishes:  Fish tacos with Cotija and mango salsa; Grilled lamb chops with herb-roasted potatoes and grilled asparagus; Strawberry-rhubarb pie; the Traditional New England Lobster Bake (lobsters, steamers, sweet corn, good beer, pie… and cooked over a beach bonfire, when possible); I also make a MEAN lobster roll.

What would we find in your refrigerator right now?
Pretty sparse at the moment; lots of quinoa/bean salad, some picked lobster meat, hummus, and a couple bottles of Pretty Things Beer & Ale Project’s “Jack D’Or”. Hmmm— maybe it’s time to go to the grocery store…

What’s your favorite childhood food memory?
Growing up in a home with so much good cooking, this makes for a tough question.  On my birthdays, we used to go to Sunday Jazz Brunches at Bob the Chef’s (now Darryl’s) and the House of Blues (the original one in Harvard Square)… I’d say those memories would probably be right up there, as they combine two of my biggest passions: good food and good music.  My first beach lobster bake up in Maine deserves a mention.

Has this job made you more aware of your own consumption habits? Have you made any significant changes as a result?
I’ve always been pretty conscious of my own habits (I rarely left food on my plate as a kid…)— that was a big reason why I fell in love with this work so easily.  I probably buy groceries less in bulk now than I used to, sacrificing convenience to eliminate the risk of things going bad.  Also, I’m much more conscious of it on a larger scale from seeing it firsthand and being constantly approached by vendors who want to donate extra food to Lovin’ Spoonfuls.

What’s your favorite place/restaurant/neighborhood in Boston?
Another impossible question.  You wouldn’t ask a parent to choose a favorite child, would you?  Some good ones, though—
Restos/bars: Cambridge Brewing Company, Island Creek Oyster Bar, Stoddard’s, The Helmand, The King & I, The Sevens Pub.  Beacon Hill Bistro makes the best Steak Frites I’ve ever had in my life.

Neighborhoods/entertainment spots: The South End, Beacon Hill, Kendall/Central Square, Fort Point, The Fens.  Fenway Park, the ICA, Wally’s, The Middle East, The Paradise, Harper’s Ferry, Harbor Lights, The Orpheum, The Wang Theater, Symphony Hall… anything near the water.

What is your motto?
I wouldn’t want to be reduced to a single motto.  I’ve always liked Thoreau’s philosophy, though: “Beware of all enterprises that require new clothes.”

Who are your heroes in real life?
Let me begin with the cliché answer, my family.  It’s really true, though— I’m very proud of my family, and they inspire and motivate me on a daily basis.  Beyond that, my biggest heroes are the pioneers of the Direct Cinema movement, filmmakers like D.A. Pennebaker and Richard Leacock, who strove to document their subjects with objectivity and truthfulness.  They paved the way for films that would really expose issues in this world that may have otherwise gone unnoticed, allowing cinema to transcend art and become a form of activism.

 

Meg Kiley, Driver

How did you arrive at Lovin’ Spoonfuls?
For a time, before working for Spoonfuls, I waited tables.  Food waste was a part of the job.  It was frustrating to see so many customers leave half the food on their plates to be thrown away.  I knew it was only one symptom of the inefficiencies and poor cultural standards that exist around food sustainability in this country.  When I read about Spoonfuls I was so relieved to see that an organization existed that was doing something to fix the problem of wasted food and hunger. A year later when I saw the job posting, applying was a no-brainer.

Describe a typical work day. How does your job differ from the average truck driver?
Every day the contents of the truck are a surprise.  Our beneficiaries are consistently delighted by the variety of each haul.  A typical truck driver doesn’t get the gratification of seeing that delight, and probably isn’t regularly thanked by strangers either.

What’s the strangest/most exotic food item you’ve picked up from a vendor?
Purple beans and white eggplants.

What are some of your favorite tunes/radio stations that you listen to on the road?
I’m an NPR dork.  But when I get sick of the news, which is usually right about when the caffeine wears off, I like to listen to a whole host of tunes.  What I listen to depends on my mood.  Sometimes Ray Charles, sometimes John Lennon, sometimes the latest new band I’ve discovered, sometimes Talking Heads, sometimes guilty pleasures which I won’t admit to here.

Do your friends and family consider you a good cook? Any signature recipes?
You’d have to ask my friends and family.  I’m of the mind that no one ever tells you the real truth about your cooking.  When I cook I tend to make it up as I go along, except when I am making what I consider my signature recipes.  I make a mean butternut squash soup and I can churn out a pretty decent chicken cordon bleu.

What would we find in your refrigerator right now?
Left over Thai curry, left over homemade fried rice (my everyday specialty), berries, yogurt, beer.

What’s your favorite childhood food memory?
Tacos were my favorite.  I’d always request them for my birthday dinner.  Also, my grandpa is a great cook.  He used to make amazing Swedish meatballs for holidays.

Has this job made you more aware of your own consumption habits? Have you made any significant changes as a result?
Definitely.  I try to use whatever I already have before I go out to buy other ingredients.  Its not easy, but I force myself to eat leftovers, even when I’m craving something else entirely.  I also go to the grocery store almost every day (it helps that it is a block from my house).  This way I only buy for two or three meals at a time.  I don’t like to rope myself into cooking a particular meal five days before the fact.

What’s your favorite place/restaurant/neighborhood in Boston?
I don’t know if I can pick a favorite, but I do love Blue Ribbon.  I love being along the Charles. I recently moved to East Cambridge, so at the moment it is my favorite place to explore and therefore my favorite neighborhood.

What is your motto?
Food rescue is the bees knees.

Who are your heroes in real life?
Certain teachers I’ve had stand out in my mind as heroes.

 

Emma McCarthy, Operations Coordinator

How did you arrive at Lovin’ Spoonfuls?
Prior to joining the Lovin’ Spoonfuls team, I worked at Flour Bakery. Flour donates leftover bread and pastries to Lovin’ Spoonfuls, so I had seen the ‘Spoonfuls team in action for quite some time. When a position opened up in the summer of 2012, I applied immediately. Food rescue just makes too much sense to ignore and it’s amazing to be on a small team that’s committed to constantly improving and taking on more for the sake of getting food to people who need it.

What spoke to you about the Lovin’ Spoonfuls mission?
While Lovin’ Spoonfuls’ direct contribution to the community was what initially caught my attention, I was really taken by the multifaceted nature of the problems that Lovin’ Spoonfuls was tackling. I had an academic interest in the culture of food and the evolution of America’s food system, especially when viewed through the lens of the ongoing environmental issues we face both nationally and globally. Food waste is overflowing our landfills, depleting our natural resources and causing a huge financial toll on our economy. On the other end of the spectrum, food insecurity rates are increasing around the country and more and more people are struggling to make ends meet. There are so many undeniable benefits to food rescue that go beyond the dinner table, and I was drawn in by Lovin’ Spoonfuls’ straightforward, local approach.

You’ve lived all over the world – what have you observed about the way other countries value / treat food?
Food is a common denominator between people around the globe, and because of that it has a unique ability to connect individuals both within and across their own cultural boundaries. Traveling to different countries, I have seen how food is viewed not just as a commodity or basic necessity but as a sacred thread in the culture of a community. One of the best ways to experience a new place is through sampling the local cuisine, it really forces you out of your comfort zone.

Do your friends and family consider you a good cook? Any signature recipes?
I do like to cook, although it is definitely just a hobby. Lately I’ve been baking more than usual, trying to perfect my family’s scone recipe.  

What would we find in your refrigerator right now?
Some basic staples that I almost always have on hand- eggs, cheese, hummus, a few vegetables. Also some leftover butternut squash, kale and white bean stew- one of my favorite winter meals!

So really, you moved from one area of food service to another…
Yes. There’s a lot of crossover between my old job at Flour and my position at Lovin’ Spoonfuls, especially because of the ongoing partnership between the two, but my day-to-day couldn’t be more different. Both have been rewarding in different ways but I’m really happy to be in a role where I can consistently see the direct impact of my contribution in the community.

What’s your favorite childhood food memory?
My mom’s spaghetti bolognese. It was my favorite meal when I was younger, which is ironic because I haven’t eaten beef in almost 10 years. I was pretty obsessed with pasta growing up.

Has this job made you more aware of your own consumption habits? Have you made any significant changes as a result?
I have always tried to be a conscious consumer, but this job definitely makes me think twice about throwing food away. Since college I’ve also learned to love leftovers, and repurposing them into new meals keeps things interesting.

What’s your favorite place/restaurant/neighborhood in Boston?
Place: Anywhere along the Charles River/Esplanade
Restaurant:
Highland Kitchen in Somerville
Neighborhood:
Bay Village- a tiny neighborhood jammed in between Chinatown, Back Bay and the South End

What is your motto?
Keep it simple.

Who are some of your heroes in real life?
Definitely my parents. They have always encouraged me to pursue my interests, no matter how obscure or varied they have been over the years. And I can’t thank them enough for exposing me to different cultures through traveling.