Joni Kusminsky joined our team as Marketing & Communications Director in May 2020.
How did you arrive at Lovin’ Spoonfuls?
I’ve been in nonprofits in Greater Boston and Central Massachusetts for over 15 years now – and, even in those places where food wasn’t central to the mission, food insecurity was always right there impacting somebody I was trying to help. (Obviously if folks are hungry, it’s tough to concentrate enough to do things like keep your grades up, find a job, or secure housing.) So, with that in mind, going to work in an org that was squarely focused on food was something I was excited to do. I spent the past few years at Worcester County Food Bank, overseeing communications and development there, before joining the Spoonfuls team in May.
Tell us about your background! How did you become interested in food rescue?
I grew up in a big, Syrian-American extended family where food was really important to us. In our family, to this day, food is community. Food is love. For my Gram, for all of us who grew up in her kitchen with her as our matriarch, sharing what we had and wasting as little of it as possible, was how we got by. A little went a very long way. Everyone was welcome and had a “seat” at my Gram’s table, whether they had a literal seat or not. (That kitchen was small and always crowded!) I internalized the lessons there.
What passions do you bring to the job?
Probably like most everyone at Spoonfuls, I’m passionate about fresh, healthy food (preparing it, sharing it, eating it, talking about it, you name it). I’m passionate about building a more just food system: one where everyone has access to healthy food – not just everyone who can afford it. And I’m passionate about living more sustainably and taking steps to reduce my own environmental footprint. Other things (not exactly relevant to work but likely to come up around the lunch table): Books, podcasts, houseplants, hikes, and my itty bitty rescue pittie, Poppy Prynne.
Do your friends/family consider you a good cook? Any signature recipes?
Both my partner and my child love to cook, so I have to fight for my turn in the kitchen. However, when I have it, I think they’d agree, I’m not bad! I inherited my grandmother’s Syrian cookbook, so I’m working my way through that. I also make a mean matzah ball soup.
What would we find in your refrigerator right now?
I recently perfected a chocolate chip cheesecake, so there’s that. What else? I was a long-time vegetarian, so I’m rarely without tofu, stir fry veggies, peanut sauce, fruits, and cheese. So much cheese!
What is your favorite childhood food memory?
I loved the way holidays smelled! I still do, actually. Food has this neat way of transporting us to bygone tables with bygone people and – for me, personally – that’s comforting. I’ll smell a freshly baked pie and it’s Thanksgiving 1988 in my head.
Who are your heroes?
So many! Generalizing a bit because I find it hard to name just a few, I tend to admire people who speak truth to power and help advance the causes of folks who have been traditionally disempowered and/or disenfranchised. There’s this series called Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls that I like, which I’d argue is actually for everybody (not just girls) and features mini-biographies of girls and women change-makers. It includes lots of my favorites.