Meet Joel!

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Joel Simonson (left) joined our team in May as a Food Rescue Driver.

How did you arrive at Lovin’ Spoonfuls?

I arrived at Lovin’ Spoonfuls upon completing my master’s degree in Environmental Science and Policy from Clark University. I remembered that Lauren and Ashley were guest speakers in one of my classes, so when there was an opportunity to be a Food Rescue Driver at Lovin’ Spoonfuls, I had to apply. I am incredibly thankful to be with such an awesome organization while doing work that I am truly passionate about.  

Describe a typical work day. How does your job differ from the average truck driver?

During a typical work day, I have anywhere from four to six vendors I receive food from and four to six beneficiaries who I bring food to. I usually call ahead to the vendors and beneficiaries to give them a heads up about my arrival. While with a vendor, I tend to spend most of my time interacting with the team members in the receiving department, but on many occasions I have conversations with members from other departments such as produce or prepared foods. This is meant to reinforce my relationship with the vendor as well as ensure I consistently receive food deemed appropriate for distribution. Upon receiving food, I weigh the products and record these values for each vendor in our inventory app.

When distributing food, I usually interact with a person or people who are mainly responsible for handling the food. However, when I get the chance to interact with recipients, I find that to be one of the best parts of the job. I tend to ask the beneficiaries how much space they have for storage, whether it is the freezer, refrigerator, or shelves, and I ask what product(s) they would like the most. Much like when receiving food, I record what kind and how much food I distribute to each beneficiary.

Overall, I would say my job differs from the average truck driver because of the different beneficiaries I work with. There are many factors that contribute to the food they receive, such as storage capacity, how many people benefit from their services, and what type of services are provided by the beneficiary. Every day I have to solve a puzzle. I receive all varieties of food, which is always subject to change, and I need to determine how to properly distribute it among the beneficiaries so that they receive appropriate amounts and types of the food. If I can do that, then I solve the puzzle. I also get to meet some amazing people along the way!

What’s the strangest/most exotic food item you’ve picked up from a vendor?

The strangest food item I have picked up from a vendor was definitely gefilte fish. It was right after Passover, but let’s just say people are not jumping at the opportunity to try this mixture of ground up fish.

What are some of your favorite tunes/radio stations that you listen to on the road?

I always enjoy listening to 92.9 and NPR, but occasionally I will dabble with 106.7 or 104.5.

Do your friends and family consider you a good cook? Any signature recipes?

I think my friends and family consider me a good cook! However, I do need to experiment with some new recipes.

What would we find in your refrigerator right now?

If we looked in my refrigerator right now, we would find lots of produce, some Greek yogurt (an essential), soy milk, hummus, and dark chocolate.

What’s your favorite childhood food memory?

My favorite childhood food memory is seeing my grandmother preparing matzo ball soup. It was always delicious and I could always see she had a great sense of pride when her grandchildren were able to experience this food with her. I know many people who say their grandmother makes the best matzo ball soup, but I am telling you, it is actually MY grandmother who makes the best matzo ball soup!

Has this job made you more aware of your own consumption habits? Have you made any significant changes as a result?

In general, I would say I was pretty aware of my own consumption habits, particularly involving food. However, I would still like to make more changes whenever possible.

What’s your favorite place/restaurant/neighborhood in Boston?

I have only been in the Boston area since mid May, but I have had several great experiences with food so far. Ashley brought me to Flour Bakery during my second week on the job, which was a real treat, and I tried oysters for the first time at our Young Friends event at Puritan & Co. I also had an amazing meal at Tiger Mama a couple of weeks ago. I hope to keep exploring and find more great restaurants!

What is your motto?

“Love what you do and do what you love.” –Ray Bradbury

Who are your heroes?

My parents are definitely my heroes. I would not be who I am today if it were not for them, and the more I grow up, the more I appreciate everything they have done and continue to do for me.