Lovin’ Spoonfuls is dedicated to facilitating the rescue and distribution of healthy, fresh food that would otherwise be discarded. The nonprofit connects community resources by linking grocery stores, produce wholesalers, and farms to local meal programs and social service entities serving those in need. Star Market has donated more than $950 through its GIVE BACK WHERE IT COUNTS Reusable Bag Program.
Tell us about Lovin’ Spoonfuls.
Lovin’ Spoonfuls began in 2010 and since has grown to nine, almost ten, fully fledged food rescue routes each with a refrigerated truck. These trucks visit grocery stores, as well as farms, farmers’ markets, and wholesalers, to pick up food that would otherwise go unsold or uneaten. This is mostly perishable food that is delivered – same day – to food pantries and other social service organizations, serving people facing food insecurity. Our mission is to facilitate the rescue and distribution of this food to those who need it the most.
While rescuing, our focus is on fresh, healthy food to help meet the nutritional needs of people facing food insecurity. Sixty-five percent of the food we pick up is composed of fruits and vegetables, protein and dairy. If we didn’t rescue this still good-to-eat food, it would go unsold or uneaten, often because of excess, food nearing its sell-by date or newer products arriving into inventory. We also pick up produce that is slightly bruised or food that doesn’t meet the aesthetic standards of size and shape, but still nutritious. With what we rescue, our partners feed over 41,500 neighbors each week.
As of mid-July 2022, we’ve rescued just over 25 million pounds of food.
What sets you apart from other nonprofits in your community?
What sets us apart is our refrigerated trucks. These trucks are what allow us to rescue perishable foods, especially fresh produce, meat and dairy, and get it where it can be enjoyed as quickly as possible. We complement the work of food banks and other distribution organizations, because of our focus on perishable products. We also do not bank or warehouse any of the product we rescue; everything we receive is rescued and delivered on the same day.
Also, unique to our organization are our highly trained, Serv-safe certified Food Rescue Coordinators (FRCs). We do not rely on volunteers. Our FRCs establish a strong relationship with both our food vendors, where they pick up the food, as well as our nonprofit partners, the organizations who receive the food. This long-standing partnership means that we are able to understand the needs of our population and, to the best of our ability, distribute culturally appropriate food to the population. For example, we accommodate our nonprofit partners’ needs for non-dairy, gluten-free, or halal options as much as possible.
We complement the work of food banks and other distribution organizations, because of our focus on perishable products.
Tell us a story that illustrates the good work you are doing.
Waltham Community Day Center is one of our partners that receives our food; they provide services and programming for people who are homeless. One of the clients at the Day Center who received our food recently became a member of their staff.
This person struggled to become sober, recovered and actually started working at the Day Center. He is especially engaged with the distribution of the food as he understands the importance of healthy food, access to food on a consistent basis, and the power of choice. Dignity is sometimes forgotten, especially when people receiving food are unable to choose the food they are eating. Understanding that this person healed with support from the Day Center’s programming and resources, and Lovin’ Spoonfuls’ food distribution, and then felt compelled to give back and work for the organization that helped get him back on his two feet, is remarkable.
What do you want people to know about Lovin’ Spoonfuls?
We are the largest food rescue organization in New England because we are thoughtful and strategic in our growth. By the end of this year, we’ll have ten routes in the Commonwealth with more room to grow to meet the need in Massachusetts.
We expand to regions that have a high rate of food insecurity, such as Hampden County in 2019 and Worcester County in 2022. Through the pandemic, food insecurity among children has doubled and among adults it’s up by almost 60%. According to Project Bread, as of early June 2022, an estimated 19.8% of households with children are facing food insecurity; a significant increase from the low in April 2021. Furthermore, inflation has topped more than 8% – the highest it has been since 1982 and without wage increases to match.
Through the pandemic, food insecurity among children has doubled and among adults it’s up by almost 60%.
Lovin’ Spoonfuls expands its food rescue and distribution to meet those facing food insecurity. Each route is strategically planned. Before we can launch a new route, we establish relationships with food vendors and nonprofit organizations that have emergency food programming. We do site visits and screening calls to make sure they will be able to use the food that we deliver; we meet with food vendors and make sure that they will be able to donate enough food to make pickups worthwhile. Once these are established and we have 75% of the funding needed for operations and secured capital for a new truck, we can start food rescue and distribution in the region.
We have a waiting list of nonprofit partners that would like to receive the food we rescue. With a committed, passionate and collaborative team, we will continue to grow.
How are you using the funds you’ve received from the Star Market GIVE BACK WHERE IT COUNTS Reusable Bag Program?
Funds raised from the Star Market Give Back Where It Counts program supports our operations. Each dollar enables us to rescue over 2 pounds of food. So, $800 enables us to rescue 1,860 pounds, which according to the USDA is about 1,500 meals.
Is there anything you would like to add?
Our signature annual fundraiser, the Ultimate Tailgate Party, is returning in person this year for the first time since pre-pandemic! This foodie fundraiser featuring some of the best chefs in the Boston area will take place at Garage B at the Speedway in Allston on October 16. Tickets will go on sale in early September, folks who are interested should stay tuned! For information, go to https://www.instagram.com/lovinspoonfuls/ or https://www.facebook.com/lovinspoonfuls.