By Matt Berg | The Republican
LONGMEADOW — Despite the popular 1960s tune, the food rescue agency Lovin’ Spoonfuls doesn’t believe in magic — their employees believe in hard work and dedication to solve food insecurity in Massachusetts, launching their first refrigerated delivery truck in Hampden County this week.
The Boston-based nonprofit collects healthy, fresh food that would otherwise be thrown out — slightly bruised produce, dairy products nearing their sell-by dates — and brings it to homeless shelters, crisis centers, food pantries, after-school programs, veterans’ service agencies and senior centers. Every week, drivers will deliver 8,000 to 10,000 pounds of food to 17 organizations in Western Massachusetts.
“Our long-term goal is to serve all of Massachusetts through regional expansion, because food waste and food insecurity — the two issues at the heart of our work — unfortunately exist everywhere,” said Lauren Palumbo, chief operating officer of Lovin’ Spoonfuls.
Founded in 2010 by Boston native Ashley Stanley, the agency has primarily served the eastern part of the state, where it delivered food to nearly 40 cities and towns and worked with over 200 partners. Since its start nine years ago, Lovin’ Spoonfuls has rescued over 13 million pounds of food. The salvaged food provides 30,000 meals every week, according to the agency’s website.
“When I was a kid, we were on welfare,” Rep. Brian Ashe said Monday at the Lovin’ Spoonfuls’ Hampden County launch at the Longmeadow Food Pantry. “We had to get food stamps and a lot of the time we had to go without food, so stuff like this is near and dear to my heart.”
Local organizations the agency will deliver food to include Gandara Mental Health Center in Springfield, Neighbors Helping Neighbors, Inc. in South Hadley, A Family Place in Holyoke, Victory Temple Food Pantry in West Springfield and Lorraine’s Soup Kitchen and Pantry in Chicopee.
“It takes a village to feed a community,” said Jodi Falk, the director of the local food rescue organization Rachel’s Table.
Each weekday, full-time Lovin’ Spoonfuls Food Rescue Coordinators trained in food handling and safety drive ServSafe-certified trucks to pick up food from 70 vendors, including grocery stores, produce wholesalers, farms and farmers markets. On the same day they pick up the food, the drivers deliver to 140 nonprofit agencies across the state.
For the agency, expanding their reach to western Massachusetts makes sense: Hampden County had one of the highest rates of childhood food insecurity in the state in 2017. According to Feeding America, 616,090 people in Massachusetts — about 1 in 11 — struggle with hunger. Across the country, a study by the USDA found that 40 million people lived in food insecure homes in 2017.
“One thing that I was always very troubled about was the waste that happens in the supermarket,” said Charlie D’Amour, president of Springfield-based Big Y Foods.
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