With Spoonfuls’ Chief Operating Officer, Lauren Palumbo
Early in the pandemic, we were updating our community on how things were changing week to week at Lovin’ Spoonfuls, as we worked to provide essential services while the conditions in which our teams were working changed rapidly. Six months later, we’re settled into a new normal, and wanted to share what that looks like on our end these days.
Since the beginning of March, our team of Food Rescue Coordinators (FRCs) have remained on the road, rescuing and distributing food to our community partners. Initially, we saw a number of our partner nonprofit agencies close due to safety protocols, and we also saw a drop in the amount of food rescued while everyone prepared for lockdowns and quarantine.
Quickly though, the quantities of food returned to normal, and have continued to stay there. While grocery stores have become more needed than ever, their increased sales and inventory turnover continues to generate excess, unsalable food, just as before the pandemic.
On the road, we pivoted from two Food Rescue Coordinators per truck to one to ensure social distance. We also worked to sanitize trucks at the end of each day to be prepared to safely move team members between trucks, should someone get sick. When not on the road, our FRCs worked from home to support administrative projects, and stayed safe. After months of solo work in a physically demanding and emotionally charged environment, when infection rates in Massachusetts had remained stable, in late June we returned to teams of 2 FRCs in our trucks where needed, which provided a welcome physical and emotional support for our team.
Our FRCs have followed all necessary safety protocols on the road to ensure the integrity and safety of the food we deliver. At any indication of symptoms or potential exposure, our team members were pulled off the road and tested to confirm a negative result before returning to work. We have been fortunate that our team has remained healthy through this point!
Meanwhile, on the road, we’ve seen the need for our partner organizations grow as food insecurity rates have risen. With lines forming and agencies adapting to new service models and approaches, we remain committed to supporting their efforts on the ground. We added partnerships with a number of new agencies and saw our applications for support increase more than 200% over the same period last year. In response to this increased need, our operations team and our FRCs have worked to get as much food out into the community as possible.
In our Food Rescue operations, we have recovered and delivered more than 2,000,000 pounds since the beginning of March. And in addition to that, from April – July, we added delivery of meals prepared by Blue Cross Blue Shield and the distribution of produce boxes from Costa Produce through a USDA grant.
In late July, in response to COVID fundraising efforts and the increased need in our communities, we launched a new route in the area of Revere, Everett, Lynn, East Boston, and neighboring cities. This area has been disproportionately affected by the pandemic, and our team worked diligently to build new partnerships on both sides of our operations. To launch this new Greater Boston route, we added a number of new vendors and 18 new nonprofit agency partners.
At 6 months into this new normal, we’re equally grateful for the ability to do this work and frustrated that the need continues to rise. We know our work is critical right now, and we remain committed. We know the need will continue to grow, and we truly hope that our community and our government work to ensure the safety and wellbeing of all residents, both in regards to their health AND their ability to access food.