Jacob Matz (right) joined our team in May as a Food Rescue Driver.
How did you arrive at Lovin’ Spoonfuls?
I came to Lovin’ Spoonfuls after working as a research assistant in environmental sociology and studying environmental health at a local university. In rural and urban communities most exposed to industrial contamination, food access is also a significant environmental health concern. I was studying social and health problems related to energy extraction in Appalachia, a region shaped by outside influences that have left many communities without access to healthy foods. My focus was energy, but food access, and particularly lack of access in the middle of a country with so much abundance, was always in the back of my mind. While I love sociology, I decided to make a change and work outside of academics.
Describe a typical work day. How does your job differ from the average truck driver?
I usually start off going to a string of grocery stores. I back up to the dock and try to get in and out as quickly as possible in order to stay on schedule and to stay out of the way of all the food coming in off the big trucks into the stores. I inspect all of the food that is donated to make sure it is 100% safe. My job is not completely different from the average truck driver. I spend time avoiding “no truck” roads and working on loading docks. However, we are also part of a wide network of groups and individuals dedicated to distributing free food across the greater Boston area. My job is to build and maintain relationships and deliver food that makes sense – food that’s culturally-appropriate and can work for each organization’s respective mission, whether they run a pantry or an after-school program.
What’s the strangest/most exotic food item you’ve picked up from a vendor?
I’ve had a fair amount of lesser-eaten meats like rabbit and buffalo. People always seem both excited and intrigued to cook with these. One of the first things I delivered was a 50lb bag of raw hulled sunflower seeds. While these items might seem strange, they are probably some of the historically longest-eaten foods in North America.
What are some of your favorite tunes/radio stations that you listen to on the road?
Driving a truck has given me an excuse to collect CDs again. I’ve had an old stack of blank CD-Rs for at least five years that I thought I would never get to use, but my truck only plays CDs, so I’m burning through them quickly. I’ve most recently been listening to Angel Olsen, Fugazi, and the Modern Lovers. Johnathan Richman is by far the most appropriate thing to listen to while driving around Boston, Massachusetts. I also try to listen to Democracy Now! when I’m within range of Boston College’s 90.3, but I’m often just a bit too far away.
Do your friends and family consider you a good cook? Any signature recipes?
They consider my food edible. I’m pretty good at making bean salads, hummus, and egg dishes. I’m also not bad at cooking fish.
What would we find in your refrigerator right now?
You would find greens, cabbage, zucchini, green onions, yogurt, beets, and lots of bean and rice salad and lentil-based leftovers. Hummus. Cheese.
What’s your favorite childhood food memory?
My favorite food memory is sitting outside and cracking blue crabs from the Chesapeake Bay with my family.
Has this job made you more aware of your own consumption habits? Have you made any significant changes as a result?
This job has made me respect and value food in a different way than I did in the past. I try not to waste food. My freezer has become 35% vegetable scraps to use for broth – this has the added benefit of reducing fruit flies.
I don’t see food access and food waste as only an individual problem. While consumption habits can be changed, this work has shown me that both food waste and a lack of access are very much built into a systemic logic that needs to be addressed. I think Lovin’ Spoonfuls’ model can work to address this structural problem.
What’s your favorite place/restaurant/neighborhood in Boston?
I love Allston. Whole Heart Provisions is my new favorite place.
What is your motto?
“There is no such thing in life as normal” – Morrissey
Who are your heroes?