From the Driver’s Seat: food insecurity right here at home

Vinny, a Food Rescue Coordinator, joined the Lovin’ Spoonfuls team in 2017.

Every Monday, East End House in Cambridge receives a delivery from Lovin’ Spoonfuls for their emergency food pantry, just a couple blocks from where my sister and I would run amuck at my uncle’s dentist office as children. Every Tuesday, Salvation Army Mystic Valley counts on us to supplement their donation bags with fresh produce, right on the same stretch of road I would skateboard down as a mischievous middle-schooler. It’s right down the street from where I grew up — and where I currently live.

One of the benefits of being a floating Food Rescue Coordinator is getting to see the Greater Boston area every day with my co-workers. As a proud New Englander and self-described “townie,” I can’t help but look around as I drive along. I’m sure that drives my co-workers mad, as I remember places and events along the way. “That’s where my father would take me bowling,” I’m sure I’ve said to multiple eyerolls as we rumble past Boston Bowl on our way to Catholic Charities Dorchester. “That’s where I would play mini-golf every summer,” I’ve no doubt said to blank stares driving through Stoneham on our way to Metro North Children’s Learning Center.

It’s easy to forget that Lovin’ Spoonfuls goes beyond Boston (due to their presence in the city proper), but we service 38 cities and towns in Massachusetts. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, low income in our national suburbs grew by 65 percent between 2000 and 2014, more than twice the pace in cities. And, the number of people living in poverty in the suburbs surpassed the numbers of urban poor earlier in the 21st century. The number of families living in poverty in Essex County is nearly 19 percent, while Middlesex County is close to 13 percent. It is easier to see the effects of food insecurity in the city of Boston, but the numbers tell a simple story that is easy to forget: the reach of poverty and food insecurity is wide.

Growing up in a big Italian family in Everett, food was not a luxury, it was a habit. Every activity had to be accompanied by food, and every meal had to feed a small army (and you should feel loathsome towards your existence for the amount of food consumed).

It took me until middle school to really see what food insecurity was doing to my neighborhood. I knew my friends were poor, but I never viewed food as something that wasn’t a normal occurrence until I  dragged along one of my friends to dinner at my grandparents’ home. The copious amounts of chicken cutlets, mashed potatoes, fresh fruit, green salad, gnocchi, green beans, and other superfluous edibles spilled over the table, and I yawned, but my friend hemmed and hawed. It was a sight he had never bore witness to, and his gums for certain would not cease flapping letting me know. For days he talked about it, letting me know that his family just didn’t eat that way, that he was lucky to get meat some days, that he sometimes only had his free school breakfast and lunch other days.

I never forgot that, and I always invited my friend back for dinner when I had the opportunity. I was young at the time, but it felt good inviting someone in to share.

That’s how I feel now, too. As I visit all the neighborhoods I’ve grown up in for Lovin’ Spoonfuls, I feel like I am inviting people in to share with us. I may not know each person we are feeding personally this time, but they are part of my community, the Boston community, and the global community. There’s plenty for everyone.

 

Meet Sean!

Sean Ahern joined our team in June as Operations Manager.

How did you arrive at Lovin’ Spoonfuls?
I had been working in the restaurant industry in Boston for many years and learned about its mission which really resonated with me.  Lovin’ Spoonfuls has some really great partnerships within the hospitality industry, and I had heard and seen great things about the organization’s mission, culture and dedication to serving the city I love so much.  It was a natural step for me to transition from serving people at tables and bars, to serving the community at large.

Do your friends and family consider you a good cook? Any signature recipes? 
Yes, at least that’s what they tell me!   I don’t have too many signature recipes that I cook all the time as I like to adjust to the seasons and what I’m in the mood for.  If I had to choose one recipe though, it would be a Thai coconut & curry soup.  It’s great in the summer, but has enough heat that it warms you right up on cold winter nights.

What would we find in your refrigerator right now?
Assorted produce from our garden and our CSA, chicken thighs, eggs, orange juice, milk, Marie Sharp’s Belizean Heat hot sauce, fish sauce, and spicy mustard.

What’s your favorite childhood food memory?
I was fortunate to live in the Netherlands for a year when I was in elementary school.  I remember eating freshly made poffertjes from street vendors.  They are miniature Dutch pancakes made in cast iron pans, basted in butter and covered with powdered sugar.

Has this job made you more aware of your own consumption habits? Have you made any significant changes as a result?
Yes, I do a much more thoughtful approach to our weekly grocery purchases.  We have been keeping less in our fridge and picking some of the “ugly” fruits and vegetables.

What’s your favorite place/restaurant/neighborhood in Boston?
East Boston for sure.  It’s such a unique neighborhood in the city with some great restaurants.  From Angela’s Café to Rino’s Place you can’t go wrong…

What is your motto? 
Just chill and be you

Who are your heroes?
Alice Waters, Paul Pierce and anyone who teaches me new things

Meet Gabriela!

Gabriela joined our team in early 2017 as an Accounts Payable and Administrative Coordinator. 

How did you arrive at Lovin’ Spoonfuls?
I was searching for a new opportunity and found a job posting on Idealist.org. I remember spending all night writing my cover letter over and over again because I wanted the position so bad! I loved Lovin’ Spoonfuls’ mission, the location, and the job responsibilities were up my alley.

Do your friends and family consider you a good cook? Any signature recipes? 

Over the years I’ve grown to secretly love cooking. Actually, its more of a love/hate relationship. Last year I hosted Thanksgiving at my place and wanted to cook everything without any help. Everyone was so impressed. They’re even asking me to make the ham again. I have no idea how I am going to pull that off because I literally had two recipes in front of me, notes of my old colleagues favorite ingredients, and just winged it! We will see how it comes out this year. But my signature recipe has to be pollo guisado con arroz blanco – stewed chicken with white rice.

What would we find in your refrigerator right now?
Yogurt, milk, OJ, salami, cheese, and spinach (my son’s ‘Veggie in Trial’ for this week), and beer… there’s always some kind of beer in there.

What’s your favorite childhood food memory?

If my brother and I were woken up to a “clapping” sound at 5am, it meant one thing and one thing only, my mom was making pupusas. Pupusas are a Salvadorean dish of a tortilla with filling. My favorite is pork and cheese. It’s accompanied by curtido and served with homemade tomato sauce. Or another favorite memory is waking up on Christmas Eve to all the spices of tamales filling the air. Christmas isn’t Christmas without tamales in our household!

Has this job made you more aware of your own consumption habits? Have you made any significant changes as a result?

It has! I have a picky eater at home and I’m constantly buying new veggies for him to try. But sometimes some veggies get pushed to the back of the fridge and when I finally remember them, they aren’t good anymore. Now, I only buy two types of “trial” veggies, that way I’m not tossing so many veggies.

 

What’s your favorite place/restaurant/neighborhood in Boston?

I love checking out the different restaurants in East Boston. It makes me feel like I am back where my parents grew up.


What is your motto?

There’s always room for dessert!


Who are your heroes?

Without a doubt, my mom is my hero. If I could be half the woman she is, I’ll consider myself blessed! I grew up in a tight knit family and despite the good and bad times, I never saw her give up. I love you mom!

From the Driver’s Seat: Counting on More Than Calories

 

Jacob is a food rescue coordinator who joined Lovin’ Spoonfuls in 2016.

By Jacob Matz

Every Wednesday at 11:30 AM, a Lovin’ Spoonfuls truck pulls up a narrow residential street in Dorchester’s Fields Corner and stops in front of an apartment building. The building is nondescript, it looks a lot like the rest of the brick buildings on the block, but inside is a shelter run by nonprofit Heading Home, which offers transitional and emergency housing to families facing homelessness.

The truck unloads three or four boxes of fresh fruits and vegetables, a couple of boxes of bread and baked goods, some prepared salads and sandwiches, some milk, a box of dairy items – mostly yogurts — and a box of frozen meat. The food is quickly taken inside to a kitchen where it is separated, sorted, and distributed to the several families living at house.

Food insecurity does not exist in a vacuum. It exists alongside of a myriad of concrete, material uncertainties. It is rooted in an economic reality that makes necessities like housing, healthcare, childcare, and access to sustainable employment opportunities inaccessible and unpredictable for so many while simultaneously providing a sense of security in these things for a few.

Lovin’ Spoonfuls partners with organizations like Heading Home who confront these realities on a daily basis and work to offer security for those facing uncertainty. As partners, our responsibility is to target and reduce one aspect of precarity by reliably providing a high-quality supply of food that our partners can count on from week-to-week.

When I describe my job as a food rescue coordinator to people unfamiliar with Lovin’ Spoonfuls, it sounds simple — we bring fresh, excess foods that would otherwise go to waste from grocery stores, farms, and wholesalers to places like shelters, food pantries, and community centers. Food rescue sounds pretty cut and dry.

But to really confront food insecurity, and to create equitable and sustainable relationships with our community partners, food rescue has to be organized, predictable, and consistent. It requires well-thought out schedules that are geographically reasonable and connect people to culturally-relevant foods.

Our days have to be planned to suit our partners’ needs – we want to bring food exactly when it makes sense for our community partners, and we want to rescue food when it makes the most sense for our vendors. Our daily food rescue schedule has to be compatible with the schedules of multiple organizations’ that have diverse, and often divergent, needs. Overcoming this challenge is a seemingly mundane aspect of Lovin’ Spoonfuls’ work, but when we are successful, it results in a consistent flow of healthy, beautiful foods to our partners from week to week.

When we are successful, we reduce uncertainty.



If you take a look back through prior “From the Driver’s Seat” blog posts, you’ll find a common theme: this team is unwavering in their dedication to bringing the right food to the right people. When we are presented with a box of food at a farm or grocery store, we quickly know which partner organization can use the food, and we do our best to direct the food in a way that best serves our respective partners’ mission. What we do not want to do is show up to a community center one week with frozen meats, the next week with pre-made sandwiches, and with a box of cut-up pineapple the next.

We do our best to diminish uncertainties, rather than exacerbate them, by keeping a tight schedule and working closely with our partners to learn their specific needs. As such, our partners are increasingly building their programming around the food that we drop off. They are building their schedules around us, and building food programming around the food we rescue. This can only work when they can consistently predict what we’ll be bringing to their door and when we will be bringing it.

Not only do we strive to be predictable, we strive to provide our partners with the ability to choose which foods best serve their needs from week to week and we share in the serendipity of food rescue with our partners. When our partners need cut-up fruit for their afterschool programs, we don’t force them to accept a box of artichokes because we happen to have an abundance of artichokes on the truck. Rather, we organize our routes in such a way that we know when we will likely rescue cut-up fruits and boxes of artichokes and plan our distributions accordingly.

While we work hard to provide consistency, food rescue can be unpredictable. When it is, we share in the surprises. A box of treats – cupcakes, candy, and ice-cream makes its way to a shelter that happens to be having a birthday party for one of the children in the home; a 50 lb box of ground beef is distributed to a community center that happens to be having a cookout the following weekend; and a farmer calls our office to donate 75 fresh turkeys just days before Thanksgiving. These are the most exciting moments of food rescue, and we are happy when the food we rescue can make a special experience that much better.

Consistency may not seem like a very exciting story, but it’s what makes Lovin’ Spoonfuls work. It allows our partners to rely on us to walk up to their doors with fresh food choices on the same day, at the same time – every week. Predictability creates trust, and trusting partners can work together to confront and reduce the uncertainty surrounding food insecurity.

Consistency also allows us to build relationships with our vendors, who can rely on us to be on time and to rescue as much of their food waste as possible during every visit.  It is a critical aspect of what we do, and it is our main concern when we are on the road. Life is precarious for a lot of people. Access to food itself is precarious – even in places that are situated in seemingly endless abundance. We have a responsibility to address this material reality by doing everything in our power to maintain consistency.

Wasted Food Means Wasted Nutrients

Did you know that Lovin’ Spoonfuls has rescued in excess of 7 BILLION calories since it began?

The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health has calculated the nutritional value of the food we waste, and their results are astounding.

 

*Below is from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health online.

View the article

Researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health’s Center for a Livable Future calculated the nutritional value of food wasted in the U.S. at the retail and consumer levels, shining a light on just how much protein, fiber and other important nutrients end up in the landfill in a single year.

These lost nutrients are important for healthy diets, and some — including, dietary fiber, calcium, potassium and vitamin D — are currently consumed below recommended levels. Nutrient-dense foods like fruits, vegetables, seafood and dairy products are wasted at disproportionately high rates.

Previous research estimated that as much as 40 percent of food is wasted nationally, but it wasn’t clear before this study how nutritious that food was. While not all wasted food is consumable, a sizeable amount is, leaving researchers and policymakers looking for ways to minimize the amount of good food that gets tossed as millions of Americans go hungry, do not get enough nutrients or do not have access to healthy food options. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Environmental Protection Agency have set a goal of reducing food waste by 50 percent by 2030.

The findings are available online in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

“Huge quantities of nutritious foods end up in landfills instead of meeting Americans’ dietary needs,” says study lead author Marie Spiker, MSPH, RD, a CLF-Lerner Fellow at the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future and a doctoral candidate in the Bloomberg School’s Department of International Health. “Our findings illustrate how food waste exists alongside inadequate intake of many nutrients.”

For their study, the researchers calculated the nutritional value of the retail- and consumer-level food waste of 213 commodities in 2012, using data from the USDA’s Loss-Adjusted Food Availability data series. The research team, looking at 27 nutrients in all, found that food wasted in the U.S. food supply that year contained 1,217 calories, 33 grams of protein, 5.9 grams of dietary fiber, 1.7 micrograms of vitamin D, 286 milligrams calcium and 880 milligrams potassium per person, per day.

Nutrient loss estimates provided by this study could contribute to a baseline for measuring future progress, the authors say.

The study also highlights how the amount of nutrients lost to waste compares to nutritional deficits in the typical American diet. For example, dietary fiber is important for maintaining digestive health and is found in grains, vegetables and fruits. Researchers estimate that, in 2012, food wasted each day contained upwards of 1.8 billion grams of dietary fiber, which is comparable to the full recommended intake for dietary fiber for 73.6 million adult women. American women under-consumed dietary fiber by 8.9 grams per day in 2012. The study found that the daily amount of wasted dietary fiber is equivalent to the amount needed to fill this nutritional gap for as many as 206.6 million adult women.

Many factors contribute to food waste at both the retail and consumer levels, including the disposal of food due to aesthetic standards, large portion sizes, and management of perishables in fridges and pantries. There is currently great energy around efforts to address the waste of food. Preventing waste at the source is considered to be the optimal approach. Strengthening food recovery efforts that bring surplus food to food banks and pantries is also an important area of effort, innovation and impact.

“This study offers us new ways of appreciating the value of wasted food. While not all food that is wasted could or should be recovered, it reminds us that we are dumping a great deal of high quality, nutritious food that people could be enjoying,” says Roni Neff, PhD, an assistant professor in the Bloomberg School’s Department of Environmental Health and Engineering who oversaw the study and directs the CLF’s Food System Sustainability & Public Health Program. “We should keep in mind that while food recovery efforts are valuable, food recovery doesn’t get to the heart of either the food insecurity problem or the waste problem. We need strategies addressing these challenges at multiple levels.”

Wasted Food, Wasted Nutrients: Nutrient loss from wasted food in the US and comparison to gaps in dietary intake” was written by Marie L. Spiker, Hazel A. B. Hiza, Sameer M. Siddiqi and Roni A. Neff.

This research was funded by the GRACE Communications Foundation. M. L. Spiker and S. M. Siddiqi were also supported by the CLF-Lerner Fellowship.

Sip and Savor: Negroni Week is Here!

Negroni Week is back, and this year there are even more amazing restaurants supporting Lovin’ Spoonfuls! Visit participating restaurants this week, June 5th-June 11th, order a Negroni and support our work in the process! Presented by Imbibe Magazine and Campari, the event is a week-long campaign to raise money for charitable causes, and Lovin’ Spoonfuls is proud to be a featured organization!

The Negroni, a scrumptious Italian cocktail made of gin, Campari and sweet vermouth, is a classic summer cocktail, and this is the perfect week to add them to your cocktail repertoire (find even more recipe inspirations here).

If you’re not sure where kick off the week, we want to point out our friends at Brick and Mortar and Central Kitchen, who are going above and beyond this week by donating 100 percent of their Negroni sales to Lovin’ Spoonfuls! Each dollar raised for Lovin’ Spoonfuls feeds one person 3 pounds of food — enough for an entire day!

Don’t miss these delicious events this week, too (and make sure to visit one of the participating restaurants below)!

A4Cade
Area 4
Banyan Bar & Refuge
Bar Mezzana
Brass Union
Brick & Mortar
Casa B
Central Kitchen
Coppa
Deuxave
Drink
Eataly Boston
En Boca
Franklin Café
Grafton Street
La Brasa
Lion’s Tail
Menton
Mida
No. 9 Park
Noir
Park Restaurant & Bar Pasta Beach
Pastoral
River Bar
South End Buttery
State Street Provisions Steel & Rye
Sycamore
Tavern Road
Temple Bar
The Biltmore Bar & Grille The Ellis Room
The Four Seasons
The Hourly
The Independent
The Maiden
Toro
Townsman
Trina’s Starlight Lounge

From the Driver’s Seat: we are all connected through food

Joel is one of our Greater Boston drivers, and has been with Lovin’ Spoonfuls since 2016.

 

Lasagna with zucchini, squash, red peppers, and dollops of ricotta. Salmon with a mustard and dill sauce that I have only seen my mother make. Chicken noodle soup — or better yet, Grandma’s matzo ball soup — that brought warmth and comfort to me on any day.

These are just a few of the meals that were constants during my upbringing. From using recipes that were passed through generations, to indulging myself in a dish that I cooked with my family, food has always played a major role in my life.

I am fortunate enough to say that I do not remember a time when food was not available in my home. I could open up the refrigerator and have a plethora of options. Fruit? No problem. Veggies with hummus? Definitely a household staple. Leftovers from dinner? Well, that depended on if my other family members beat me to it. Besides the great sense of pleasure when eating these treats, the experiences of enjoying good food are what stand out to me the most. I think it is safe to say we can all remember a time when we ate delicious food.

Food is one of the great equalizers — we all need it, we all share it, and we all bond over it. Connecting over food is the best part of being a driver for me, especially with people from different backgrounds, and each day to those who do not have reliable, consistent access to food.

Barbara and Joan from Servant’s Heart Pantry rave to me about the foods that go over well with their clients: cups of fresh fruit, half-gallons of milk, and pre-made sandwiches, to name a few. At 12 Step in Woburn, Russell and the gentlemen there tell me about the weekend barbeques they have with the cuts of meat I deliver. And at Catholic Charities in Somerville, I know that Mary loves her yogurts (like me), because we talk about our favorites (especially what we mix-in for making a parfait). These are the conversations that fill me with joy when driving around.

Most of the people I work with at beneficiary agencies I only get to see once a week. And in the five-to-ten minutes of distributing food at these agencies, the opportunity to interact and learn more about each other does not always present itself. But that is where food comes in. Food rescue is not just about diverting totally edible food from landfills, it is about the shared experiences that food brings to the table.

Meet Alisa!!

Alisa Feinswog joined our development team part-time in 2016, but has recently become a full-time member of the Spoonfuls team! She is our Development Associate.

How did you arrive at Lovin’ Spoonfuls?
I saw an ad posting on Idealist that aligned with my interests and skill set. I didn’t hear back for awhile, so I emailed to be sure that LS received my application and got an interview! The rest is history.


Do your friends and family consider you a good cook? Any signature recipes? 
I like to cook and experiment with new spices. I cook very simply–vegetables, grains, and sauces. Sometimes, it turns out great! Other times…

What would we find in your refrigerator right now?
Produce, a lot of cheese, and leftovers from a potluck with friends.


What’s your favorite childhood food memory?
Every Sunday, my family would go to the farmer’s market back home in San Diego.  Some weeks, my dad would try to strike a deal with vendors — he’d buy all of the leftover stone fruit at the end of the market to make pies for his office.  Whenever he succeeded in making this deal, my brothers and I knew we had a lot of work ahead of us!

Has this job made you more aware of your own consumption habits? Have you made any significant changes as a result?
Yes, now I have serious guilt when food goes bad in my fridge. I’ve started freezing more things and thinking about who I can give food to if I’m going away, for example.
 
What’s your favorite place/restaurant/neighborhood in Boston?
Dave’s Fresh Pasta in Davis Square.  Their roasted veggie and goat cheese sandwich is amazing. They also always have interesting cheese samples.

What is your motto?
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere” -Martin Luther King, Jr.
 
Who are your heroes?
My parents are my heroes. I also see Will Allen, author of The Good Food Revolution and founder of Growing Power as my hero regarding food access.  He is credited for starting the urban agriculture movement in the United States, especially in vulnerable communities. Very inspiring.

6 million strong

We’re so excited to announce that this week Lovin’ Spoonfuls rescued its 6,000,000th pound of food! It’s been 7 years in the making, and we’re grateful to all of our partners and supporters who helped get us to this incredible milestone.

On Monday, our team of 8 drivers picked more than 13,631 pounds of food from a total of 42 vendors, distributing to 36 individual beneficiary agencies across eastern Massachusetts and MetroWest. Here are some of the highlights leading up to the big moment!

Cathy & Deb started their day at our new partner Star Market Brighton, picking up nearly 150 pounds of fresh fruits, vegetables, and dairy.

 

Meanwhile, Reggie’s day began at Sudbury Farms in Needham, and driver Lisa had a morning stop at partner Eataly Boston! Anthony’s first stop was Big Y in Milford, where he loaded 434 pounds of fresh, healthy food onto Mamie, our MetroWest truck.

Jacob and Vinny collected 374 pounds at Roche Bros. Westwood, and several hundred more pounds of beautiful, fresh produce at their sister store in West Roxbury. Finally, Joel picked up a whopping 773 pounds of produce, dairy, proteins, and bread from Target in Everett, carrying us well past the 6 million mark!

 

March also toppled our previous monthly record with over 225,000 pounds of food rescued. Please help us keep the momentum by considering giving to Lovin’ Spoonfuls today so that we can surpass our 2017 goal of rescuing 2.5 million pounds of food! 

 

From the Driver’s Seat: A Food Waste Cynic

Lisa Allen, one of our Greater Boston area food rescue drivers, reflects on her experiences with food waste.

I was a total cynic, so I don’t pretend to be an expert in food waste. I know the statistics, we all do — 40% of food in America gets wasted, and one in seven families doesn’t know where their next meal is coming from. Before I took a job as a driver for Lovin’ Spoonfuls, my only exposure to food rescue was in visits to Grandma’s. Maybe it was a combination of living through the Great Depression and being Italian, but in her home the slogan may as well have been “No food left behind.” Our meals would consist of warming up every item in her fridge in small bowls, and noshing until it was all gone. I regarded her fridge with trepidation, but it ALL was always delicious and perfect. It was on these trips that I realized food has a much longer lifespan than I was giving it credit for. The wine may be too old to enjoyably consume at Grandma’s, but don’t worry about the dinner spread.  

I speak about my past career (14 years in restaurant management) far too often for anyone’s comfort, but it lays the groundwork for why I didn’t consider myself an expert in food waste. To the contrary, I was skilled at keeping my waste percentage down, but what we did waste filled up entire trash barrels daily. You get used to food waste as an outcome of running a business. A necessary evil. Yeah, you know it’s food. Yeah, you feel bad when you throw it away, but you’re painfully aware if you take it home or give it away your job is at stake. So you become desensitized to it. Except when you get a new employee who eulogizes the food, and you briefly see it as the wasted proteins, fibers, nutrients, and yeah, just empty (but tasty) calories that they are. So you use the opportunity to get that new employee to sample as much of it as you can. You stuff them like a roaster chicken because, “Hey, jackpot! I finally get to put some of this food in a belly.” As an Italian, all I ever want to do is feed people.  

Let me tell you, it’s an awful feeling when you finally break out of the waste stupor.

I’ve always loved food: cooking it, selecting it, menus, cookbooks, Harry and David brochures, you name it! Being a driver for Lovin’ Spoonfuls is much more than a job for me, and I can explain why. I start my day at a Whole Foods in Brookline, where I gather fresh cut fruit, fleshy eggplants, and brown artisan breads, and finish it by delivering ripe tomatoes, fragrant cheeses, cartons full of creamy milk, and beautiful bell peppers to places like Project Place, Brookline Senior Center, and Open Door. I know chopped vegetables from Trader Joe’s are going to go into the Monday soup for Boston Warm, and I know Dimock Academy will love those rib eye steaks I picked up earlier. Heck, I can hardly believe I get to give them away! David from Allston-Brighton Food Pantry can’t believe the cheddar cheese situation. He has enough to make his famous mac and cheese as a side for Wednesday night’s community dinner! It’s a game of Tetris, and I play to win. I love figuring out the perfect foods for the programs that I know will utilize them to the fullest. I deliver food, but I get to drive away with a lot more than that. For the first time in my long career, I feel hopeful. It’s not just about pulling on the right side of the world’s largest game of tug of war for the first time. It’s a combination of walking into a beneficiary and getting that good strong sense of acceptance, tolerance, and goodness. Also knowing you’ve given them some of the tools that they need to successfully run such a positive operation. It refreshes the carbonation in the soda bottle that is my faith in humanity. Which, I know sounds like a goofy statement. And I guess it is…for a former cynic.    

Lisa’s truck, parked behind Whole Foods Brookline

From the Driver’s Seat: Honoring Those Who Served

Our MetroWest Driver, Anthony Summa, reflects on Veterans Day.

 

Working as a food rescue driver for Lovin’ Spoonfuls, I have been able to collaborate with numerous organizations benefiting a wide spectrum of individuals and causes, a major one being veterans assistance. Polling of the agencies we support in the Greater Boston area shows that 65 percent of them currently serve veterans, which gives me great pride, especially with Veterans Day approaching. The statistics surrounding the issue are staggering, with roughly 11 percent of the country’s homeless population being veterans, the majority of which are suffering from mental health issues and/or substance abuse issues. On top of these concerns, many veterans return stateside having to cope with the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder and often with little family support and skills that don’t often transfer to civilian life. All of these factors create a situation where those who risked their lives for our country can end up without a home, not knowing where their next meal will come from.

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On the MetroWest route we are able to donate food to Safe Haven, a housing program run by the Bedford VA which helps to “ensure that veterans who have fallen on hard times will not fall through the cracks of VA housing programs”. Safe Haven has 10 rooms and houses veterans who are chronically homeless and who experience issues with mental health or substance abuse. In most VA housing programs, if a resident returns to substance abuse they are discharged and often have nowhere else to go. At Safe Haven, the requirements are a little more lenient, but drug possession/use is restricted from the premises and residents must meet with a case manager on a weekly basis to discuss future housing goals. The program serves as a safe and healthy environment where these veterans can start making better life and health decisions and get themselves back on the right foot, thus improving their quality of life.

I am grateful to have the opportunity to help these guys who may be down on their luck but are genuinely great people. That being said, there are a number of other ways you and I can give back to this over-represented group among the homeless population. The Boston VA has volunteer opportunities in Brockton, West Roxbury, and Jamaica Plain ranging from helping at events or bingo nights, to volunteering to drive vans to ensure veterans get to their medical appointments. The New England Center and Home for Veterans is located in Boston and works to give “veterans who are facing or at-risk of homelessness with the tools for economic self-sufficiency and to provide them a path to achieve successful and dignified independent living.” They run a gift-a-vet program in which you can donate gift cards which provide veterans with much-needed provisions for the holiday season and beyond.

Building Homes for Heroes is a non-profit which builds or modifies homes which are gifted, mortgage-free, to men and women who were injured during their service. The organization also has programs including financial planning services, family funding and emergency support, intended to help these injured veterans plan for their future. You can assist Building Homes for Heroes by volunteering your time or donating materials or equipment, or hosting a fundraising event.

However you choose to help out, make sure to thank each and every veteran you see this year, they are the ones who risked their lives to protect the freedoms we take for granted every single day.

Thank You for an Incredible 6th Annual Ultimate Tailgate Party!

We are thrilled to report that the 2016 Ultimate Tailgate Party was our most successful fundraiser yet. Your support helped us raise more than $250,000! It was a spectacular end to a record breaking week, which marked the rescue and distribution of our 5,000,000th pound of food. Bravo to EVERYONE!

On Sunday evening we welcomed more than 500 supporters to the Black Falcon Terminal at Boston’s Cruiseport for our 6th annual event. We also welcomed our sponsors, Dorothy PuhyBMO Capital Markets, Credit SuisseKPMGPwCBlue Cross Blue ShieldPeterson Party CenterMS Walker, Peak Organic, Boston Common Magazine, Jamestown, Cafco, and Winston Flowers!  We also had a record number of volunteers this year, all of whom were amazing and spirited – we thank you all.

Our incredible Co-Chairs for the second year in a row, Andy & Mariann Youniss of Wellesley, led a tremendous and spirited Host Committee. Andy is the CEO of Rocket Software, and sits on our Board of Directors – and Mariann has continued to get more involved with our work. Andy welcomed everyone and remains our best example of what it means to ‘make it personal’ – and get involved. Our COO (and one of Boston Business Journal’s 2016 40 Under 40 honorees) Lauren Palumbo, proudly and passionately spoke about the year’s operational milestones, and inspired the crowd to get to know who we are, and why our model works.

Our VIP celebration closed with a touching video honoring our friend and Culinary Board member Jamie Bissonnette with the 2016 Thomas M. Menino Award for Leadership. I was honored to present him with this year’s recognition:

“We honor our friend and late Mayor’s life and legacy with this award. It recognizes those who hold the same ideals that he did – ideals that connect service, community and food. Tonight, we proudly honor Jamie Bissonnette.”

We were lucky enough to have Filmmaker Jon Mercer produce this incredible tribute piece to Jamie, with cameos from Will Gilson, Louis DiBiccari, Joanne Chang, Christopher Myers, Ken Oringer, and Andrew Zimmern.

As attendees enjoyed food from incredible chefs and restaurants from Providence up to Portland, TJ Connelly spun the party soundtrack of the year, and the team at Offsite served up cocktails featuring Maker’s 46, Basil Hayden, and Knob Creek Rye. Our silent auction scrolled on screens throughout the space as folks tried to outbid each other on trips to Cabo San Lucas, Bermuda, Nantucket and Los Angeles, rare wine lots and unique dining experiences.

After another short video about our work, Ming Tsai introduced Andrew Zimmern to the crowd – and our favorite emcee brought the house down with an emotional plea for food justice, and for support on our behalf. We raised more than $50k in just a few minutes, and ended by auctioning off signed Gronk and Brady jerseys, and a football signed by Tom Brady!

Each truck we put on the road rescues 400,000 lbs of fresh, healthy food each year – and we keep them on the road with your support. Follow along on InstagramTwitter, and Facebook as we post photos from the party in the coming days.

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Lovin’ Spoonfuls launches #HowiRescue!

Food waste is a problem. A BIG problem.

Currently, 40 percent of all food in the USA goes to waste, resulting in hundreds of billions of dollars in energy and environmental resources lost, and pollution-causing methane emitting from food waste in landfills. Yet one in seven Americans does not know where their next meal is coming from. It’s a big disconnect, and one that we’re working to change at Lovin’ Spoonfuls by rescuing fresh, healthy food that would otherwise be discarded, and transporting it directly to community organizations that feed hungry people.

But, food rescue is only one part of the solution. It’s up to us as a society to be conscious of the impact that food waste has on our community, our country, and our planet — and do our part to make a difference. Today, we’re launching our #HowiRescue campaign to create a conversation around food waste and encourage everyone to take simple steps to cut back on food waste at home. Think #HowiFall or #HowiSummer — but with a mission.

To participate, simply snap a photo of your efforts and share on social media with the hashtag #HowiRescue and tag us, @lovinspoonfuls (Instagram) or @lovinfoodrescue (Twitter) or on Facebook. If you need a little inspiration, here are a few helpful tips to get you going:

1.) Get It On Paper  

How often do you really waste food at home? Most people only have a vague idea at best because, let’s face it, we try not to think about it. But being aware of what you actually need and what you toss is the first step in changing for the better. Lists are your friend. For a week, take notes on the food you’re throwing away and why. Did a piece of fruit go bad? Did you get full before finishing your dinner? Then, use that information to make a new plan. Take the time to map out your meals for the week, and hit the grocery store with a list of only the things you need. With a little planning, you can cut down the food you toss by a whole lot.

2.) Embrace “Ugly” Produce

We are conditioned in our society to seek out the most perfect looking produce on the shelves (founder Ashley Stanley has more to say about that here). But that mentality is one of the biggest reasons why grocery stores and farm stands throw away perfectly good fruits and veggies every day! Though that funky looking tomato might not be as photogenic as its symmetrical counterparts, it’s certainly just as healthy. So start adding produce of all shapes, sizes, and colors to your shopping cart!

3.) Put Some Thought In Your Portions

There’s something satisfying about filling up your plate with delicious food. But that’s short-lived if half of it ends up in the trash at the end of your meal. Do a quick check in before serving yourself or ordering at a restaurant to make sure you’re only taking what you need. And keep in mind that splitting with a friend or saving your leftovers is always an option!

4.) Find Creative Uses for Leftovers and “Extra” Ingredients

We love leftovers as much as anyone, but four nights in a row of leftover spaghetti and meatballs can get boring, no matter how now noble your intentions are. Instead, seek out creative recipes that transform your leftovers into something new (spaghetti pizza? Yeah, that’s totally a thing). Likewise, try and use every part of the produce you have on hand. Beet and turnip greens can be used in a smoothie, citrus peels can be candied, and plenty of produce ‘extras’ can be used for veggie broth.

5.) Store Food Properly

Proper storage can add anywhere from a few days to several months to the lifespan of your food, making it easier for you to actually use everything you buy. Check out this helpful guide to learn where, how, and how long to store staple ingredients.

6.) Take Expiration Dates With A Grain of Common Sense Salt

Expiration and sell by dates are how food manufacturers’ communicate when they think a product will taste best, not whether or not it’s safe to consume. When properly stored, many types of food are still perfectly good to eat days, even weeks, past their sell-by dates. Rather than going by expiration dates, use this site as handy guide to help you find out how long your food will stay fresh.

7.) Take Action

Support our work by sponsoring the food we rescue, volunteering for one of our beneficiaries, or spreading the word about Lovin’ Spoonfuls to the markets you shop. Check out our volunteer guide to learn more about getting involved!

We can’t wait to see how you rescue!

 

BBJ Recognizes ‘Spoonfuls COO Lauren Palumbo

We are so proud to share that our COO, Lauren Palumbo, has been named to the Boston Business Journal‘s 2016 ‘40 Under 40‘ class! We are thrilled she is being recognized in such great company, and we love working with her every day! Read the full story here.

Meet Deb!

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Deb Hicks joined our team as a Food Rescue Driver in July 

How did you arrive at Lovin’ Spoonfuls?
I first learned about LS when I saw their job posting on Idealist.org. I was immediately intrigued by the work they did and impressed by their team’s very informed perspectives on food-related issues. For me the most important thing about a job is being part of a strong, supportive, forward-thinking community, as well as feeling like the work itself is making a positive impact on this world. I’m so glad I found Lovin’ Spoonfuls!

Describe a typical work day. How does your job differ from the average truck driver?
A typical work day starts with a nice bike ride through Harvard and across the Charles to LS headquarters. There I meet with whichever colleague I’m riding or driving with for the day, usually sometime between 8 and 8:30am. Since most of us arrive around the same time, we enjoy a few minutes of friendly banter while making coffee or preparing our bags for the day’s haul. Once we’ve checked our respective vehicles, we’re off! Each day is unique, as our partners vary according to scheduling, availability of or need for product, etc. It’s nice to ride or drive with a different colleague almost every day, as I get to spend time with not only each of them, but I also get to interact with many different partners!

I would say that the biggest difference between my job and the average truck driver (without having ever been one…) is likely the culture and attitude around well-being that is cultivated at LS. The work of a truck driver can be taxing, given time spent sitting and driving, heavy lifting, and (ofttimes) long hours that could lead to poor diet habits. I’ve only been with LS for a month, but have already seen that they continuously strive to avoid and counteract each of these potential hazards of the job.

What’s the strangest/most exotic food item you’ve picked up from a vendor?
The other week Reggie and I did a pickup at Volante Farms, and on top of a box of produce was a branch of lychees. I have eaten lychees before, but never seen them on a branch! They were beautiful!

What are some of your favorite tunes/radio stations that you listen to on the road?
I’m new to the Boston area and typically travel on two wheels, so I don’t know stations too well yet. However, I do like to listen to Democracy Now! at noon on WZBC 90.3, and who could leave out Jacob’s CDs!

Do your friends and family consider you a good cook? Any signature recipes?
I guess so. It would be pretty bad if I didn’t know a thing or two after living in Italy for years!

What would we find in your refrigerator right now?
Some produce from my most recent visit to Haymarket, a few different types of olives and cheese, eggs, butter…and then there’s Ben and Jerry’s and When Pigs Fly in the freezer!

What’s your favorite childhood food memory?
I used to love making submarine sandwiches with my dad. He would buy at least half a dozen loaves of Italian bread, a bunch of deli meats and cheeses, and toppings. We would set up a type of assembly line to make the subs, layering ingredient after ingredient. All the while our dog, Lucy, would hang around in the kitchen. Every now and then dad would “accidentally” throw a piece of meat over his shoulder for Lucy…a gesture I thoroughly enjoyed because it was so blatantly against house rules. Only he could bend them. Most of the subs would end up at his work the following day, but we would enjoy our personal subs for dinner those evenings!

Has this job made you more aware of your own consumption habits? Have you made any significant changes as a result?
Definitely. I have been thinking a lot about my own aesthetic pickiness when purchasing produce. Despite avoiding some “perfect” looking produce like the plague (Red Delicious apples, for example), I’m certainly guilty of denying food a place in my basket, and hence, plate. Since we “vote” with our purchases at the supermarket, by avoiding “bad-looking” good food, we are essentially abetting a culture of food waste.

What’s your favorite place/restaurant/neighborhood in Boston?
The North End. But I’m partial. There are so many great places in Boston I have yet to explore! (However, I do really like to buy olives and cheeses and the occasional loaf of bread at Salumeria Italiana on Richmond St.)

What is your motto?
“Live simply so that others may simply live.” -Gandhi. It’s something I aspire to.

Who are your heroes?
My Gran. She has such a good heart. Not a day passes that she dedicates to herself. Not to mention she’s an amazing cook…at Christmas alone she literally makes thousands of cookies!

Amy Goodman is also one of my heroes. This world could benefit from more impartial and more in-depth journalism. She is an inspiration!

Meet Vinny!

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Vinny Vassallo joined our team in July as a Food Rescue Driver

How did you arrive at Lovin’ Spoonfuls?
I heard about Lovin’ Spoonfuls on the radio (when food is involved, everything has my extra attention). I was impressed by the work they do at the time, but hadn’t thought about them again until I saw they were hiring. I did more research into the company, and was not only impressed by all the good that is done here, but all the positive things I heard about the company and the people. I’m still amazed and happy that they hired me and am excited about all my days with Lovin’ Spoonfuls.

Describe a typical work day. How does your job differ from the average truck driver?
A typical day sees me picking up food with my co-workers from our generous vendors, and distributing it to our beneficiaries, which is the most rewarding part. Seeing and hearing how the food we are bringing is making a difference in the communities I grew up in and around is so great. While navigating the roads and streets of the Greater Boston Area is something that I share with a trucker, this job is so much more than picking up and dropping off.

What’s the strangest/most exotic food item you’ve picked up from a vendor?
We once picked up a box of horned melons, also known as the blowfish fruit. It looks exactly like you would imagine it.

What are some of your favorite tunes/radio stations that you listen to on the road?
When I’m in their signal area, I listen to 91.5 WMFO, Tufts radio, or my iPod.

Do your friends and family consider you a good cook? Any signature recipes?
Yeah, they do. I’ve been cooking for others since I was very young. Others tell me my signature recipes are my pasta e fagioli and my stuffed artichokes, but I feel like my rigatoni with broccoli rabe is my best dish.

What would we find in your refrigerator right now?
Yogurt,  Cabot cheese, sour cream, cranberry juice, Coke, whole milk, blueberries, cucumbers, maple syrup, fig preserves.

What’s your favorite childhood food memory?
On Christmas Eve, our family would celebrate the Feast of the Seven Fishes. While my family was preparing dinner, my sister and I would go into my Grandparent’s basement and take out the live lobsters to play with them. We would pick our favorite one, name them, and write their names on their elastic bands, that way we could find them once they had been cooked. We would then eat our new pet lobsters. I don’t think we realized how bizarre it was until we were older.

Has this job made you more aware of your own consumption habits? Have you made any significant changes as a result?

Definitely. After this job, I took stock of every food item in my kitchen, and have really been attempting to monitor expiring food and use what I have before it goes to waste. Just seeing all the pounds of food that we save and the good it does makes me think before anything gets close to my own trash barrel.

What’s your favorite place/restaurant/neighborhood in Boston?
The North End in July and August. There are feasts almost every weekend during the summer, and the streets are full of locals eating oysters and fried food.

What is your motto?
You don’t win friends with salad.

Who are your heroes?
Sterling Hayden

From The Driver’s Seat: Rescuing Nutrition

Cathy Pedtke, one of our Drivers, talks about the nutritional impact of the food we deliver.


Tess3 DriverSince I started driving with Lovin’ Spoonfuls, I have encountered some skeptics of the work I do. People can glance at the surface, at a line outside a pantry or a single person with a cardboard sign, and think “They don’t look like they’re starving.” And it’s difficult for me to explain that hunger and malnutrition look different than they have in the past: this hunger doesn’t stem from war, depression, or major drought. There is no shortage of food. 99¢ cheeseburgers are accessible to all, but healthy food –real food- is often physically or financially out of reach.

Many of the people I serve every day through our partners are battling both hunger and obesity simultaneously. How can you possibly be going hungry while gaining weight? Simple: the foods that are most affordable, easiest to access and prepare, are empty calories. Highly processed, heavy on fat, sugar, and salt, while often lacking the protein, fiber, and other nutrients that help you feel full and satisfied. Calories are cheap, but a balanced nutritious diet isn’t. Fresh produce, especially when organic and local, is the most nutritious part of any meal, providing a multitude of micronutrients that keep us healthy and prevent disease in countless ways. The micronutrients in a balanced diet are also an essential part of childhood development, and malnutrition early in life can have a life-long impact. But fresh produce is also the most expensive, the most time consuming to prepare (if you even have a kitchen to prepare it in), and the quickest to spoil. It’s often the expensive part of that equation that is the most deterrent, especially when working with an over-stretched budget or limited SNAP funds. Even I shy away from the organic raspberries and farmer’s market carrots when faced with much cheaper and less satisfying alternatives. ($5 for a pint of berries? Half of them will probably grow mold before I eat them. I could buy 3 boxes of raspberry pop-tarts for that price!)

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This is why I’m most excited to load fresh produce onto my truck. Whether it’s organic bananas from Whole Foods, peppers and eggplant from Russo’s, or locally grown collards from one of our farm partners, I’m not counting calories- I’m counting all the other nutrients that will now reach mouths and bodies that might not have been able to access them otherwise. Those bananas mean fiber, potassium, and natural sugars could be replacing processed sugar and artificial flavors in a smoothie, instead of a milk shake. Fresh peppers and eggplants mean more fiber and vitamins A, B, and C are getting added to someone’s plate. Collards are an oft-overlooked source of calcium and iron. So for those who ask whether the food I collect gets to people who really need it, my answer is a resounding yes. Everyone needs the nutrition and variety that fresh produce provides, and everyone deserves access to a healthy diet. And since I know the food I rescue gets to those who need it fast (often the very same day), those nutrients will be landing on someone’s plate, instead of in the garbage.

Meet Jacob!

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Jacob Matz (right) joined our team in May as a Food Rescue Driver.

How did you arrive at Lovin’ Spoonfuls?
I came to Lovin’ Spoonfuls after working as a research assistant in environmental sociology and studying environmental health at a local university. In rural and urban communities most exposed to industrial contamination, food access is also a significant environmental health concern. I was studying social and health problems related to energy extraction in Appalachia, a region shaped by outside influences that have left many communities without access to healthy foods. My focus was energy, but food access, and particularly lack of access in the middle of a country with so much abundance, was always in the back of my mind. While I love sociology, I decided to make a change and work outside of academics.

Describe a typical work day. How does your job differ from the average truck driver?
I usually start off going to a string of grocery stores. I back up to the dock and try to get in and out as quickly as possible in order to stay on schedule and to stay out of the way of all the food coming in off the big trucks into the stores. I inspect all of the food that is donated to make sure it is 100% safe. My job is not completely different from the average truck driver. I spend time avoiding “no truck” roads and working on loading docks. However, we are also part of a wide network of groups and individuals dedicated to distributing free food across the greater Boston area. My job is to build and maintain relationships and deliver food that makes sense – food that’s culturally-appropriate and can work for each organization’s respective mission, whether they run a pantry or an after-school program.

What’s the strangest/most exotic food item you’ve picked up from a vendor?
I’ve had a fair amount of lesser-eaten meats like rabbit and buffalo. People always seem both excited and intrigued to cook with these. One of the first things I delivered was a 50lb bag of raw hulled sunflower seeds. While these items might seem strange, they are probably some of the historically longest-eaten foods in North America.

What are some of your favorite tunes/radio stations that you listen to on the road?
Driving a truck has given me an excuse to collect CDs again. I’ve had an old stack of blank CD-Rs for at least five years that I thought I would never get to use, but my truck only plays CDs, so I’m burning through them quickly. I’ve most recently been listening to Angel Olsen, Fugazi, and the Modern Lovers. Johnathan Richman is by far the most appropriate thing to listen to while driving around Boston, Massachusetts. I also try to listen to Democracy Now! when I’m within range of Boston College’s 90.3, but I’m often just a bit too far away.

Do your friends and family consider you a good cook? Any signature recipes?
They consider my food edible. I’m pretty good at making bean salads, hummus, and egg dishes. I’m also not bad at cooking fish.

What would we find in your refrigerator right now?
You would find greens, cabbage, zucchini, green onions, yogurt, beets, and lots of bean and rice salad and lentil-based leftovers. Hummus. Cheese.

What’s your favorite childhood food memory?
My favorite food memory is sitting outside and cracking blue crabs from the Chesapeake Bay with my family.

Has this job made you more aware of your own consumption habits? Have you made any significant changes as a result?
This job has made me respect and value food in a different way than I did in the past. I try not to waste food. My freezer has become 35% vegetable scraps to use for broth – this has the added benefit of reducing fruit flies.

I don’t see food access and food waste as only an individual problem. While consumption habits can be changed, this work has shown me that both food waste and a lack of access are very much built into a systemic logic that needs to be addressed. I think Lovin’ Spoonfuls’ model can work to address this structural problem.

What’s your favorite place/restaurant/neighborhood in Boston?
I love Allston. Whole Heart Provisions is my new favorite place.

What is your motto?
“There is no such thing in life as normal” – Morrissey

Who are your heroes?
My parents.

Meet Joel!

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Joel Simonson (left) joined our team in May as a Food Rescue Driver.

How did you arrive at Lovin’ Spoonfuls?

I arrived at Lovin’ Spoonfuls upon completing my master’s degree in Environmental Science and Policy from Clark University. I remembered that Lauren and Ashley were guest speakers in one of my classes, so when there was an opportunity to be a Food Rescue Driver at Lovin’ Spoonfuls, I had to apply. I am incredibly thankful to be with such an awesome organization while doing work that I am truly passionate about.  

Describe a typical work day. How does your job differ from the average truck driver?

During a typical work day, I have anywhere from four to six vendors I receive food from and four to six beneficiaries who I bring food to. I usually call ahead to the vendors and beneficiaries to give them a heads up about my arrival. While with a vendor, I tend to spend most of my time interacting with the team members in the receiving department, but on many occasions I have conversations with members from other departments such as produce or prepared foods. This is meant to reinforce my relationship with the vendor as well as ensure I consistently receive food deemed appropriate for distribution. Upon receiving food, I weigh the products and record these values for each vendor in our inventory app.

When distributing food, I usually interact with a person or people who are mainly responsible for handling the food. However, when I get the chance to interact with recipients, I find that to be one of the best parts of the job. I tend to ask the beneficiaries how much space they have for storage, whether it is the freezer, refrigerator, or shelves, and I ask what product(s) they would like the most. Much like when receiving food, I record what kind and how much food I distribute to each beneficiary.

Overall, I would say my job differs from the average truck driver because of the different beneficiaries I work with. There are many factors that contribute to the food they receive, such as storage capacity, how many people benefit from their services, and what type of services are provided by the beneficiary. Every day I have to solve a puzzle. I receive all varieties of food, which is always subject to change, and I need to determine how to properly distribute it among the beneficiaries so that they receive appropriate amounts and types of the food. If I can do that, then I solve the puzzle. I also get to meet some amazing people along the way!

What’s the strangest/most exotic food item you’ve picked up from a vendor?

The strangest food item I have picked up from a vendor was definitely gefilte fish. It was right after Passover, but let’s just say people are not jumping at the opportunity to try this mixture of ground up fish.

What are some of your favorite tunes/radio stations that you listen to on the road?

I always enjoy listening to 92.9 and NPR, but occasionally I will dabble with 106.7 or 104.5.

Do your friends and family consider you a good cook? Any signature recipes?

I think my friends and family consider me a good cook! However, I do need to experiment with some new recipes.

What would we find in your refrigerator right now?

If we looked in my refrigerator right now, we would find lots of produce, some Greek yogurt (an essential), soy milk, hummus, and dark chocolate.

What’s your favorite childhood food memory?

My favorite childhood food memory is seeing my grandmother preparing matzo ball soup. It was always delicious and I could always see she had a great sense of pride when her grandchildren were able to experience this food with her. I know many people who say their grandmother makes the best matzo ball soup, but I am telling you, it is actually MY grandmother who makes the best matzo ball soup!

Has this job made you more aware of your own consumption habits? Have you made any significant changes as a result?

In general, I would say I was pretty aware of my own consumption habits, particularly involving food. However, I would still like to make more changes whenever possible.

What’s your favorite place/restaurant/neighborhood in Boston?

I have only been in the Boston area since mid May, but I have had several great experiences with food so far. Ashley brought me to Flour Bakery during my second week on the job, which was a real treat, and I tried oysters for the first time at our Young Friends event at Puritan & Co. I also had an amazing meal at Tiger Mama a couple of weeks ago. I hope to keep exploring and find more great restaurants!

What is your motto?

“Love what you do and do what you love.” –Ray Bradbury

Who are your heroes?

My parents are definitely my heroes. I would not be who I am today if it were not for them, and the more I grow up, the more I appreciate everything they have done and continue to do for me.

Plenty continues to take shape!

Plenty, our culinary and nutritional program, has been serving our community of partners since 2014. Through cooking demonstrations led by our chef partners, we teach our beneficiaries whole-ingredient, low-waste cooking using the delicious food we distribute each day to more than 25,000 people in Greater Boston and MetroWest.

Last week, Plenty was on the main stage at Boston Public Market, where chef Louis DiBiccari gave demonstrations on mushroom stem rice pilaf, spring onion top salsa, and potato and cauliflower stem soup. It was our first foray into the public setting with Plenty, and chef DiBiccari got rave reviews!

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This week we’ve also started producing and filming a series of Plenty videos at BCAE to share with even more people the importance of nutritional, low-waste cooking! We will be filming the best of our workshops with our chef partners this summer, and can’t wait to share them with you!

Here’s a look at Boston’s own Tiffani Faison, who led a workshop on no-stove cooking in March! In the video, we hear from the wonderful community at ABCD (one of our partners) about the value of Plenty workshops (and Meg makes a cameo, too!). Please watch the video, produced by ABCD, and share and enjoy! Happy cooking!

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