Amber Tillson joined Lovin’ Spoonfuls in February as our new Development Director!
How did you arrive at Lovin’ Spoonfuls?
At age 5 my mom and I would make sandwiches to take down to the local shelter. As a kid, it was hard to imagine that some people didn’t have food, and that stuck with me. At this point my mom was a single mother of 3, and at times struggled to put food on the table for us. As I grew up, I continued volunteering for hunger relief organizations. In high school and through college I volunteered at a local shelter 3 times a week, which deepened my passion for food justice.
Needless to say, these experiences cemented my core beliefs regarding hunger– that healthy, delicious food is not a privilege, it’s a right. Over the past 6 yrs I’ve held leadership roles within nonprofit organizations focused on hunger relief and youth work. A few years ago I learned of Lovin’ Spoonfuls and fell in love with the mission. It’s so simple– take wasted food and put it in the hands of folks who are struggling to secure their next meal. I kept an eye on their job postings, and… Here I am today!
What things have stood out to you since joining Lovin’ Spoonfuls?
I’m really impressed with the sense of hospitality that’s infused in to our work, and in turn the overwhelming support we receive from local chefs and restaurants to drive our mission forward. We are incredibly (let me repeat, INCREDIBLY) fortunate to have so many amazing partners throughout Greater Boston who rally behind our mission, and come together in the name of food. It’s a beautiful thing.
Part of starting the job was to ride-along with several of the FRCs. What was that experience like for you?
It was my “WOW” moment– where I got to see just how much care has been put in to developing a food rescue model that doesn’t feel transactional, but relational. I was so impressed with the detail and care put in to our entire operations– from the savvy, efficient procedures orchestrated by our Operations Manager and COO, to the relationships our FRCs form with beneficiary organizations. I was also struck by how much beautiful, yummy food we picked up. It really got me thinking about how much food is out there to be rescued…
Tell us about being on the Development team at Lovin’ Spoonfuls!
We’re a small team setting out to do big things! We definitely have our work cut out for us, but Lovin’ Spoonfuls isn’t about setting the bar low, so it’s fitting. Right now we are looking to the future, and I’m excited to join the team at such an imperative time.
Do your friends and family consider you a good cook? Any signature recipes?
I’m not sure if they consider me a good cook, but it’s definitely a passion of mine! My family usually gives me a hard time for sneaking vegetables into things, like my kale pesto. My husband and I love rummaging through our cookbooks on the weekends to find new recipes to make, and one of our most favorite things in the world is to cook for friends and family– there’s something quite special about sharing a home cooked meal at a table full of people you love!
What would we find in your refrigerator right now?
Homemade cauliflower romesco, seltzer, peanut butter, yogurt, spinach, my sourdough starter and a sad kombucha mother that’s been forgotten in the back.
What’s your favorite childhood food memory?
My mom used to make our favorite dinners on our birthdays or for special occasions, and she served it on this red plate that said “You Are Special Today”. It was a tradition in our house, and my siblings and I always looked forward to it. I’m the oldest of 5 in my family, so sometimes it became a competition!
Has this job made you more aware of your own consumption habits? Have you made any significant changes as a result?
I’ve had the privilege of being close friends with some zero waste people (ie, people who make it a goal to create NO trash or waste in their life) so I feel like food waste wasn’t unfamiliar when I joined the team. However, I definitely spend more time thinking about it now, particularly how I might be able to share some tips on reducing food waste. A lot of people don’t understand the magnitude of how much good food is wasted, or creative ways to use scraps in the kitchen.
What’s your favorite place/restaurant/neighborhood in Boston?
I lived in Central Square in Cambridge for over 6 years, and I just absolutely love its character. My husband and I are in love with Pammy’s right now.
Who are your heroes?
Oh, what a question! I can’t think of any one person right now, but I am always really inspired by people who share their personal struggles. I think vulnerability and openness is something that we take for granted– it takes a lot of courage! I also think it can be a huge connector, and can help others feel like they aren’t alone in whatever they’re going through.