September is #HungerActionMonth and Community Plates is spreading awareness by highlighting some of our local hunger advocates. Did you know that our volunteers deliver food to more than 25 pantries and kitchens across Fairfield County each week? Wilson Pantry in Stamford is particularly special to us, as you can see from this post written by food runner Sam Mauro after a recent visit. _______________
I walked into the basement pantry on Wednesday afternoon and found Miss Joyce sitting in her chair, sorting through some apples and bags of greens. “You guys done good by us this week,” she said, referring to the bountiful produce that some of our food runners dropped by the pantry. She was in a joyful mood despite the oppressive heat.
Have you met Miss Joyce yet? She’s the southern transplant that founded the food pantry at Wilson Church in Stamford, Connecticut. What started out as her retirement project soon turned into a two-day a week commitment for the past 11 years. Her goal for the pantry is simple; to make sure that every one of the 300 families she serves every week has a solid diet. She adds, “You help us in a great way to meet that goal.” Wilson Pantry isn’t a fancy operation. Miss Joyce operates out of a church basement with minimal refrigeration or storage space and she hands out food only once per week. She and her volunteers start every Wednesday putting together grocery bags for each family that will come through their doors on Thursday afternoon. It isn’t rare that Community Plates is often the only source of fresh fruits and vegetables for the pantry. The other food banks that donate typically only have bread products, and in the words of Miss Joyce, “You can’t grow strong kids on bread alone.”
Miss Joyce has a soft spot for the children that come through the pantry. She explains that many of the families have upwards of 5 kids and she gets to know every one of them. These families rely on Wilson and the efforts of groups like Community Plates to feed all of those mouths. Often the parents work but just don’t make enough money to pay all of the bills. Miss Joyce always tries to stash away some goodies for her pint-sized patrons, but, she mentions with a heavy heart, at the end of the day, there isn’t enough food to go around for everyone.
Usually when you drop at Wilson Pantry, volunteers are ready to help unload and bring the food right in from your car. But if you have a few extra minutes, go in and introduce yourself to Miss Joyce. She loves thanking volunteers in person and showing them her labor of love. And if you want to go the extra mile, ask Miss Joyce if you can volunteer on a Thursday to help hand out the food and see the impact of your efforts up close.
Hunger affects every community, and during Hunger Action Month, Community Plates is sharing five ways you can make a difference in your own neighborhood:
Sign-up to become a Community Plates Food Runner.
Millions of meals have been rescued and millions of hungry Americans have been fed because volunteers on their own time and in their own cars are taking on this senseless problem of food insecurity. It’s easy to become a food runner. Sign-up to use our app that will connect you with food rescue opportunities in your city. Don’t see your city? Let us know.
Share a Food Insecurity Fact.
Did you know that there are over 46.5 million food insecure individuals in the United States, or 1 in 7 Americans struggles to get enough to eat?
Food insecurity affects so many, and in our backyard. Share a fact with your friends and family to help us build local awareness. Interested in more facts? Check out the Hunger in America’s research.
Thank your local volunteer food rescuers and food donors.
Gratitude is important to us, it’s one of our core values. Everyday, we’re blown away by the passion and commitment of our volunteers who rescue food and those who donate leftover food. Help us take the time to thank our volunteers and donors, here are some in your community.
Join the community and follow and tag us on social media!
Kevin Mullins, Community Plates Executive Director since 2011
We are thrilled to announce that the Claneil Foundation, a private family foundation based in Philadelphia, recently selected Executive Director Kevin Mullins and Community Plates as recipients of the Emerging Leaders Fund grant. Kevin was selected from a competitive pool of 75 nominations representing emerging organizations in the Mid Atlantic/New England Region. We will receive $200,000 in general operating funds over four years, and as the organization’s leader, Kevin will have access to up to $10,000 for professional development.
Kevin said, “This grant is important validation of all the energy so many have invested in establishing a new type of solution to American food insecurity. In addition, it is a real affirmation of our vision to end hunger in the United States through direct transfer food rescue. We are honored to be recognized alongside previous innovative leaders and organizations as well as our three other co-grantees this year.”
Recipients are selected based on their creative vision, leadership capacity, potential for impact, and commitment to innovation and learning in one or more of the Foundation’s interest areas. This grant program is focused primarily on early stage organizations located in the New England and Mid-Atlantic states.
Everyday Heroes features profiles of outstanding charitable organizations that support causes that are profoundly changing individual lives and communities for the better. Kevin Mullins, Community Plates executive director was recently featured on the podcast. Have a listen!
On April 21 from 5:30pm-8:30pm, Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant (401 N. Front Street), will host a Keg Tapping Party to benefit Community Plates. There is no charge for admission, but please register for the event. 10% of all proceeds will go to Community Plates Columbus and of course we will be accepting donations, so bring your friends and family!
There will be live music by the band Stone Soup, passed appetizers and a ceremonial keg tapping at 6:30 pm. The featured seasonal beer is the strong, German lager Maibock, traditionally considered an annual rite of spring. Gordon Biersch partners with non-profits for their tapping parties because they believe it is important to give back to the community and we couldn’t be more grateful to be their partner this time around!
We have some amazing gift baskets for auction, including pizza for a year from Donato’s, a North Market basket with packages from Hot Chicken Takeover, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams, Shadow Box Live table for eight, a private craft cocktail class for ten at Curio, and much more. Many local restaurants and bakeries have donated $50-$100 gift cards and Community Plates will have t-shirts for sale, along with a 50/50 raffle.
This will be a great opportunity to meet fellow food runners, especially some of the 160 new runners who signed up this month! I hope too see all of you there.
The Columbus Dispatch recently profiled our efforts in Columbus, Ohio, interviewing food runners and our site director for the city:
Once a week, Mike and Laurie Hawkins hop in their car and head out on a mission to rescue wayward pastries, loaves of bread, soup bones and meat.
“It’s a good use of our time,” Mrs. Hawkins said as she and her husband pushed a cart piled high with food around the North Market on Thursday. “And it gets the job done.”
The Clintonville couple are food runners for Community Plates, a nonprofit organization that uses an app and volunteer initiative to intercept surplus items that might otherwise add to the staggering amount of the nation’s food supply that goes uneaten.
There is so much happening with Community Plates right now. First of all we finally have a run in Bexley, we will be picking up from Brueggers Bagels every Saturday and Sunday. We are also picking up daily from the Brueggers on Neil Avenue, this is a great run for anyone who lives near campus or works at OSU. Rosa & Roccos in New Albany is back to donating surplus from their awesome Sunday brunch.
Please join me in welcoming Hoof Hearted Brewery as a donor. I know the name is funny but the food, the beer and the donations are great. I highly recommend the Sunday brunch!
Please mark your calendars for Community Plates Food For All 2016. This is our annual fundraiser which will be held at Gordon Biersch in the Arena District on Thursday April 21 5:30-8:30. You will all be receiving an official invitation soon.
Victory Ministries has moved to a new, much larger location in Whitehall. This is another great one for Bexley runners. Below is a picture of the Little Caesars Stygler run that goes to Victory Ministries every Wednesday. Don’t let the picture scare you. We usually pick up about 30 pizzas, but this one was 95!
Originally from Long Island, NY, Nick came to New Orleans to study the Jazz culture and embrace the Big Easy lifestyle. During his undergraduate career at Loyola University and realizing he had to pay the bills somehow, Nick started working in the food industry. There, he not only developed a passion for artisanal coffee but also saw firsthand the massive amount of food that goes to waste each day.
Nick said, “I was thrilled to discover an alternative to food waste and jumped at the chance to join the Community Plates family. I am excited to apply my creativity and passion to help those who are food insecure. New Orleans has given me so much, I am more than happy to give back.”
If he is not brainstorming unique ideas or trying new things, you can find Nick pursuing his other passions: playing gypsy jazz on guitar and coaching high school wrestling. He hopes to do everything the world can offer him and travel to as many places as possible. In the meantime, he enjoys unicycling, roasting his own coffee, and admiring the qualities of his favorite animal: a sloth.