How did you arrive at Lovin’ Spoonfuls?
While attending UMass Amherst I was able to take a course called “Other Economies Are Possible” where we studied, amongst other things, solidarity economies. Within this unit we had learned about community outreach initiatives in the Greater Boston area, so when it came to write my final paper concerning any topic we had covered that year I chose to research food access; during my research I came across Lovin’ Spoonfuls and a few months later after I had graduated and was searching for a job I emailed Lauren asking if they were hiring.
Tell us about your background! How did you become interested in food rescue?
I grew up in an affluent suburban town in Massachusetts, so for much of my life issues such as hunger and homelessness were not very visible to me until I began to better educate myself. During my time at UMass I joined a student-organized Food Access Coalition which worked to combat food insecurity on our campus and within our local communities. Some of my co-collaborators included food rescue coordinators who collected food from our dining halls and distributed it to graduate students, and a fellow student who operated a dining hall meal swipe ask/donation platform via Facebook for food sharing purposes. I immediately became very invested in all of this work, and when it came time to apply for jobs after graduation I started with food rescue organizations!
What passions do you bring to the job?
I have a very strong belief that food is a basic human right and that every person, regardless of their social location, is entitled to access it. Throughout my life I have built up a very strong will when it comes to making sure my fellow community members are able to not only survive, but thrive in their surroundings. I carry these convictions with me every day and am constantly grateful for the fact that the work I do goes hand in hand with what I believe.
Have there been any surprises for you in the food you rescue?
I feel as though I come across new and exciting unknown food every day with this job. Both of my parents, as well as myself and my siblings, come from England so the type of cooking I grew up with was very traditional in the sense of Shepherd’s Pies and beef stews; coming across things like fresh tomatillos, yucca root, and rambutan for the first time was bizarre in a very awesome way. I feel like I am constantly learning not only about food systems and how they benefit communities, but also the food itself! I’ve become quite adventurous with my cooking along the way as well.
Do your friends and family consider you a good cook? Any signature recipes?
I love cooking for my friends and family, and haven’t had a bad review yet! My old housemate used to love when I would make stuffed chicken parmigiana, and I’ve been told my very basic version of shrimp etouffee is quite enjoyable.
What would we find in your refrigerator right now?
Certainly a lot of leftovers. I cook for myself so when I experiment with new recipes I often end up making far more than one portion, so I keep a good deal of leftovers in my refrigerator and freezer at all times. Also a lot of different hot sauces! Some of the labels I can’t even read because of the different languages but whenever I have hot sauces/chili sauces given to me or recommended to me I always have to try them – and there hasn’t been a hot sauce I haven’t liked yet!
What’s your favorite childhood food memory?
Being English means that I started eating curry at a very young age. Every year after Thanksgiving and Christmas had passed and we still had turkey leftovers my parents would take all of the scraps and dark meat and turn it into almost like a Turkey Tikka Masala. It became a family tradition of ours and to this day I still look forward each year to currying the turkey leftovers post-Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Who are your heroes?
I look up to a lot of people in my life. I have personal heroes such as my sister who has always been and will always be a guiding strength for me. I have everyday heroes such as the people I work with and see everyday at the non-profits who dedicate themselves to empowering and uplifting others. And I have grand heroes such as the political activists and revolutionaries who stand in defiance of oppression and demand dignity and respect for each and every human being.