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SPOON-FED:

Lens on Leadership: with Ben Holt

From our Board of Directors to our Culinary Board, Friends Advisory Board, and Community Advisory Boards (CABs), we’re fortunate to have many incredible people among our lot. They lend their personal and professional experience in different ways to inform our work, make connections, and grow support for Spoonfuls. Every month, we introduce you to one of them!

This month, it’s Ben Holt: Member of Lovin’ Spoonfuls’ Hampden County Community Advisory Board and Food Program Director at The Gray House, a Lovin’ Spoonfuls nonprofit partner.

How did you first get introduced to Lovin’ Spoonfuls?

I was first introduced to Lovin’ Spoonfuls when Sean Ahern reached out to organizations in Western Massachusetts looking to expand [Spoonfuls’] reach and create new partnerships. The Gray House was one of the first organizations that Sean spoke with, so I was able to help him connect with other nonprofits in the area that were interested in a productive partnership, such as the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts. We were lucky to be on Sean’s call list, because since then, Lovin’ Spoonfuls has had such a positive impact upon our agency and the community we serve by increasing our access to fresh produce, meat, dairy, and bakery items.

What is it about Lovin’ Spoonfuls and/or the issue of wasted food that speaks to you personally or professionally?

Some of my first jobs as a teenager were working in the food and beverage industry, where I, unfortunately, witnessed numerous instances of perfectly good food being tossed at the end of nearly every shift. There were rules in place that prevented staff from giving any of the leftover food to low-income employees or other food insecure individuals in the community. This saddened me, especially since I had firsthand experience facing food insecurity as a child living in a single-parent household with five siblings. As I began to get involved with nonprofit work, I started doing more research on the topic and was shocked to read statistic after statistic on the ridiculous amount of wasted food in America.

What made you want to join your community’s CAB?

I was interested in building new relationships and increasing my understanding of the issues, as well as opening additional lines of communication so that we could better serve our friends and neighbors within the community.

How are you seeing inflation and supply chain issues affect your community?

We have had numerous parents contact us recently in dire need of baby formula, with some having to drive 45 minutes to Springfield from Connecticut due to formula shortages. We have also seen a significant reduction in the amount of assorted frozen meats available when placing our weekly inventory orders, with strict [food bank] limits on each category of meat (beef, pork, chicken). Similar issues have occurred with various non-perishable items, such as pasta and rice.


Learn more about our Community Advisory Boards. Positions are currently open on our Worcester County, Hampden County, and MetroWest boards if interested in applying.