Vincent “Vinny” Vassallo – Food Rescue Coordinator, Lead Trainer and Everett native – has been working at Lovin’ Spoonfuls since 2016. These days, he’s navigating some very familiar territory.
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, Spoonfuls launched a sixth Greater Boston route, adding a truck to its fleet, to meet the growing need for food. The new permanent route through Chelsea, Revere, Everett, East Boston, and Lynn is Spoonfuls’ eighth across the Commonwealth. It’s a project funded in part by a grant from the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection.
“I love driving the same roads I, and my family and friends, have walked thousands of miles on throughout my life,” said Vassallo. “I’m driving past houses where my family and friends have lived and shared meals. However, I also grew up knowing people that did not have this luxury.”
Vassallo still lives on the North Shore. He said he continues to have neighbors who struggle with food insecurity. “The beneficiaries we are delivering to are doing such positive work in a time when even more people need it [and people need it] more than ever. Knowing the work I’m doing is helping my neighborhood is my favorite part of this route.”
In the first few weeks of the new route, Vassallo has rescued a variety of products: from fruits and veggies, to milk and ice cream. With memories of store shelves emptied of meats earlier in the pandemic, Vassallo said the most noteworthy rescue was a box of steaks. “Selah Day Resource Center in Chelsea was especially happy, as they go through a lot of meat in their kitchen and in the grocery boxes they deliver to families and the elderly in Chelsea.”
The route operates daily, Monday through Friday. Spoonfuls partners with vendors such as Baldor Specialty Foods, Big Y, Stop & Shop, and Target, to rescue perishable food and distribute, same day, to 18 non-profits in the area.
The new permanent route is Spoonfuls’ eighth overall within the Commonwealth.
“This route enables us to further curb food waste and to keep good food out of landfills at a time when it is more important than ever to ensure food gets to those who need it,” said Lovin’ Spoonfuls’ Chief Operating Officer, Lauren Palumbo. “Even before the pandemic, each year 40% of all food produced in the U.S. went to waste, with 37 million Americans struggling with food insecurity.”
Since 2010, Spoonfuls has rescued over 17 million pounds of fresh, healthy food, creating 14 million meals. Since the start of the pandemic, Spoonfuls has rescued over 1.5 million pounds of food and onboarded 20 new beneficiary partners. About 14% of partners rely on Spoonfuls’ deliveries for all of the food they serve their clients.