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SPOON-FED:

In the Driver’s Seat: Anthony Summa

Five Years in MetroWest

My journey with Lovin’ Spoonfuls started with the expansion into MetroWest, which unbelievably was five years ago! I stumbled across the job listing for a Food Rescue Driver (since renamed Food Rescue Coordinator, aka FRC, to better encapsulate the many hats we FRCs wear every day), having only the slightest idea of what food rescue even was.

Luckily for me, the location was right, and the job description piqued my interest. I received the job offer and haven’t looked back. In that time, Lovin’ Spoonfuls and the MetroWest route have realized a huge amount of growth. Shortly after I joined, our organization reached the milestone of 5-million pounds of food rescued! I still remember how excited I was to tell family and friends and to try to wrap my head around such a huge feat and acknowledge the number of people in need that had helped along the way. Now, just five years later and we are coming up on the massive milestone of 20-million pounds of food rescued! And with more growth potential in the works, this number will continue to grow at an even more rapid pace. 

With that all said, I wanted to look back at my first five years, having helped run the first expansion route in our history, which led to further expansion in Springfield (shout out to Tyler and Sarah, who represent Lovin’ Spoonfuls out that way!). In that time, the other FRCs on the MetroWest route and I have racked up so many miles on the road we had to upgrade our truck, Mamie to Reba, this past year.

With the MetroWest region being more spread out geographically, we’ve driven roughly 100,000 miles in five years. The space in between stops and having much less traffic than Boston allows me to catch my breath and sort out in my head what product would be best suited at what beneficiary partners. Speaking of partners, the number of beneficiaries on the MetroWest route climbed from 20 to 25 over the past years. And that’s not even counting the ones we deliver to when we have had excess product (a welcomed semi-regular occurrence).

When we started the MetroWest route, it was the first expansion into a new geographic area, so we started off slowly getting our foot in the door, and the Lovin’ Spoonfuls name out there in the region. We only picked up from seven vendors at the start, with some of them only being a couple of days a week. Since then, that number has grown to nine vendors across Bellingham, Milford, Sudbury, Framingham, Wayland, and Natick. That increase, plus ongoing education at each store, has allowed the total amount of food rescued each year in MetroWest to increase from around 200,000 pounds in 2016 to over 500,000 pounds in 2020!

But more important than all of those numbers are the partnerships and connections we have created and nurtured in that time. I feel I have gained a good understanding of what our beneficiaries’ needs are across the board. With that knowledge, I can now recognize that on a given day, I may have more product than my scheduled beneficiaries could use. For example, I may have extra prepared food one day and know that I can call up Roberto at Turning Point, and he would gladly take an off-schedule delivery. Or I may have more produce on another day and know that Daniel’s Table distributes to those in need in just a few hours, and they could find a home for the extra food.

The most recurring issue on the route (one I am very happy to address) is too much milk. Those days I can call Open Table or St. Bridget’s Food Pantry and rest easy knowing I helped to find the perfect home for every case of product we rescued that day. Just like every agency is not the same, every pound of food is valued differently depending on where it goes. The biggest takeaway in my five years is that the most important part of the job is to provide the most value possible with every truck-full that I can.

Anthony Summa is a Food Rescue Coordinator at Lovin’ Spoonfuls. He works with vendor and non-profit partners in the MetroWest area.