So Far So Great! (2.2 Million Meals Down, Less Than A Million To Go)

We started our food rescue season last year with a big goal.  We said that from October 1st of 2013 through September 30 of 2014 we wanted to pick up and deliver the equivalent of 3,000,000 meals to people in need in the four communities we currently serve.  It was a lofty goal but I’m happy to report that with 3 months left to go, we’re on track to achieve that much fresh food rescued and maybe just a little bit more.

I included a picture of Jamie above who rescues food for us (pictured in the middle of a food rescue) at our Fairfield County site because I want to make sure we all remember that you’re the ones that are doing this.  You.  In your vehicle.  On your lunch hour.  On your way home from work.  On Saturday morning while you’re running errands.  And you and you and you makes us.  This is what we’ve done so far…together:

  • 2.2 million meals delivered to our neighbors who are struggling to know where their next meal is coming from.
  • 3.3 million pounds of food rescued that would have otherwise ended up in landfills, emitting greenhouse gases.
  • A conservative value of 3.7 million dollars worth of food saved and utilized the best way it could have been.

So congratulations!

Now…we’ve got three months left to rescue about 800,000 meals.   They are summer months which have often been a little less productive for us, so to reach our goal we need all hands on deck plus a few more.  Please sign up for a food rescue today and encourage a friend to visit www.foodrescueus.wpengine.com to become a Community Plates food runner.

We can do this together!  Our friends in need in Ohio, Connecticut and New Mexico are counting on us.

Community Is Our Reason & Our Reward

One of the best things about the last three years of being part of developing a food-rescue platform is that I’ve had the chance to perform many food rescues myself.  When I tell people who are toying with the idea of becoming a Community Plates food runner, “try it once and you’ll want to do it again and again”—I speak from experience.

The benefits to the almost half a million food-insecure people we currently serve and over 50 million we hope to serve are obvious, but

when I talk about getting “addicted” to food running I’m speaking more about the reward it provides those who performs the food-rescue; the volunteers themselves.

There is an intrinsic benefit built into the food-rescue process.  In a word, it’s community.  Now, I know the dictionary defines community as “a group of people who have something in common; geography, culture, interests etc.” , but what I have in mind is something more personal…more shared.

First of all, I look forward to seeing the people that I interact with on my regular runs, and I think that most of them look forward to seeing me.  When I walk through a restaurant kitchen and give a shout-out to the crew there or when I’m hanging out briefly on the loading dock at a grocery store or market, it’s more than just familiarity that makes seeing each other enjoyable—it’s the ongoing-realization that we are sharing something or joining together in accomplishing something important.

I’ve heard from many of our food runners that for the first time, they are experiencing a real connection to the places that they live.

Most of us now live in places where we weren’t raised, so it’s easy to feel disconnected or feel like home is always someplace else.  When you start noticing your neighbors —and even more, when you start actively caring for your neighbors with others, all of a sudden that “place that you live” starts to feel more like home.

Recently I wasn’t able to rescue food for a period of time and I realized that these generous people, our donors and partners—are important to my life, and I missed seeing them.  They’re not just “nodding-acquaintances” that you may run into on the elevator every day, but these are friends that are working with me to make a difference.

Picking up food and making sure it gets to people who are struggling to eat healthy food regularly certainly satisfies a basic need for those being served, but it also satisfies a basic need for the one who performs the run – those dedicated food runners who fulfill our mission every day, in their own communities.

Join us in the food rescue revolution and make a difference in your community.

 

Community Plates is Coming To Your Area… and here’s how.

Hunger in the U.S. doesn’t discriminate.  Although many of us may have a pre-conceived idea of who “the hungry” are and where they live, the reality is, you’re as likely to encounter people who don’t know where their family will get their next healthy meal in rural Tennessee as you will in inner-city Philadelphia.  Increasing media attention around the problem of American food-insecurity is directly tied to how pervasive and indiscriminate the problem has become.   We quite literally can’t ignore American hunger anymore.

Community Plates was founded as a national hunger-relief solution.

The very first visions of this technology-fueled food rescue revolution were of building a scalable platform that would not be dependent on any of the peculiarities of a particular city or region…and this is exactly what has happened.  The areas in which we currently rescue food could not be more different from each other (see a list here) but they have one commonality which makes this whole thing work (to the tune of over 4,000,000 meals rescued to date):  passionate, generous local people committed to helping the hungry in their own communities. We are helping to build stronger communities by enlisting local volunteers: Ohioans concerned for Ohioans,  New Mexicans motivated to help New Mexicans, and so on.

And now after three years of figuring out how to do what we do (May 10th is our 3 year anniversary) we can now confidently predict that Community Plates is coming to your area!  Why are we confident?  Because it’s the community that makes this happen, and another thing we’ve learned in these three years is that Americans care about their neighbors and given the opportunity, they will rise to the challenge.  Our confidence is in our growing army of volunteer food runners.  Our confidence is in you.

We will expand to several new locations in 2014 with plans for exponential expansion in 2015 and beyond; so if you want to be a part of this movement where you live, just drop us a line.  1/6th of our national population  is struggling to eat and there real urgency behind this issue.  Hunger in the U.S. will come to an end and this is your chance to be a part of the process.

Welcome to the food rescue revolution.

 

Kevin Mullins
Executive Director
Community Plates

How Food Rescue Happens (A Social Media Re-Enactment)

Much of Community Plates’ food rescue activity is scheduled and routine.  This works out really well for many of the food runners who want to fit making a difference for hungry Americans into their packed work weeks.

Food waste, however, does not always appear on a schedule.  Luckily, our GoRescue platform also allows for non-scheduled, emergency type activity.

The following timeline provides a glimpse into a real life situation that became an opportunity to do good. Opportunities like this one are becoming more and more frequent at Community Plates.


Saturday. March 29th. 8:54pm
Whole Foods Upper Arlington (served by our Columbus Ohio site) tweets the following with an @communityplates mention

 

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Saturday.  March 30. 8:57pm – We respond immediately with a shout out to potential @communityplates food runners in the area and an assurance that we will do all we can to make sure that nothing goes to waste.

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Saturday.  March 29. 9:10pm
– Our National office receives confirmation from Susan Kaiser-Smith, our Columbus site director that she has this food rescue covered.

“I am on my way to COSI (Center of Science and Industry and our food rescue site) now with reinforcements.”

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Saturday.  March 29. 10:10pm
– The food is picked up and directly transferred from COSI to Hazel’s House of Hope (a Community Plates partner agency).  Our site director sends the following text to let us know how effective the rescue was.

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As the food rescue was “completed”, we received photos of some of the amazing food that was rescued and transferred.

 

 

 

 

There are over 100,000 food insecure people in Columbus and almost 500,000 in the combined area that our four current sites serve.  There truly is more than enough food to feed all of them well—and when you’ve got great technology, food service organizations passionate about making sure food does not go to waste and most importantly, compassionate, generous people willing to make the rescues happen, there is a real, workable solution.

Together, we can ensure no one goes hungry. 

Join Us.

www.foodrescueus.wpengine.com

#FoodForAll

 

1 in 5 – A Number To Look Square In The Face

US Map

My son and I had a deep “driving home from school” type conversation yesterday about what percentages should be recognized as noteworthy.  I think we started  our talk based on hearing a BBC report on the percentage of new cases of cancers reported close to the Fukushima nuclear reactor, following the tsunami related disaster there in 2011.  The numbers were very low in that case but as my son pointed out, if you’re the one affected or the family of someone who was, these percentages  mean nothing to you.

These kinds of conversations do matter to us though, which is why I was blown away by a recent map I saw (distributed by Upworthy) which showed the “numbers” on Americans who struggle to eat.  Once I get past my ongoing shock from the reality of “Americans who struggle to eat” (and it’s no less shocking to me today after spending four years looking at similar reports)  there was one number that emerged that Community Plates will spend the next ten years or so facing every day.

In addition to that big number there were a couple of  little number tidbits that were interesting.  You’re most likely, for instance, to struggle to eat well if you live in Mississippi and least  likely to do so if you live in Vermont.  But of course my son’s words still ring true here;  if your child is hungry,  you don’t care if she’s 1 out of 4 or 1 out of 10.

But here’s the number.  Life as it is right now in the United States.  This number is not a call for future alarm but our current reality.

If you live in the United States you now have a 1 in 5 chance of being unable to provide the food that you and your family need to eat healthily.  That’s 1 in 5.   Everyone can do that math.  In a representative U.S. town of 100 people, 20 of them are food insecure.

This is a number we have to look square in the face every day until it is no longer the case.  Community Plates promises to do that.  Every day.

Join us.

 

Community Plates Deploys Award-Winning, Game-Changing GoRescue App for “Social Volunteering”

Next-generation App allows volunteers to easily transfer millions of meals to the hungry

December 11, 2013 (Norwalk, CT)Community Plates today announced the rollout of its next-generation GoRescue App which is designed to streamline and enhance the nonprofit’s food rescue process. The volunteer-driven, technology-fueled Community Plates rescues surplus food and transfers it directly to receiving agencies to feed the food-insecure. GoRescue, at the edge of the emerging “social good” technology movement, lets food runners access the organization’s “self-serve volunteer management system” via mobile phone or the Web. With the App, volunteers sign-up for food runs on the spot or in advance, access details about the run, and participate in a community of social volunteers.

Creating a shared-experience among volunteers
The most significant new capability of Community Plates’ new GoRescue technology is a social feature that provides volunteers with a greater sense of community and support. “Community Plates offers unmatched flexibility and autonomy for our volunteers since they can sign-up for food runs at times and locations that fit their schedules,” said Kevin Mullins, executive director of Community Plates. “GoRescue allows volunteers to ‘bring’ the Community Plates community along during their individual food runs for a more rewarding experience.” More specifically, GoRescue keeps Community Plate volunteers engaged by enabling them to chat about food runs, share ideas about new opportunities to help the food-insecure, and most importantly, swap inspirational success stories about the people they help.

GoRescue is initially being deployed in Community Plates’ Connecticut markets, including Fairfield and New Haven counties. In early-2014 it will become available in Albuquerque, NM and Columbus, OH.

While in earlier stages, the core GoRescue technology was awarded the 2013 ComputerWorld Honors Program 21st Century Achievement Award in Human Services. The annual awards program pays tribute to organizations that use information technology to promote and advance the public welfare, and benefit society and business. Community Plates received the top honor in the Human Services category from among 29 Laureates that were selected from an original 750 applicants to the Program. GoRescue is powered by WhenToManage, an innovator of cloud-based software for the restaurant, hospitality and retail industries.

“The beauty of the Community Plates’ technology and volunteer-driven model is that it is extremely scalable and sustainable which is vital to achieving our goal of eliminating food insecurity in the U.S.,” continued Mullins. “As the organization grows, the simplicity of GoRescue will continue making volunteers more efficient. This is critical to enabling Community Plates to achieve this year’s goal of rescuing three-million meals, and significantly more year-after-year.”

Community Plates and WhenToManage will work together to expand GoRescue’s features, including automated alerts to and from volunteers, badges in recognition of each volunteer’s invaluable commitment, and more. In addition, the data available from the new technology will continually be mined, allowing Community Plates to assume a leadership role in measuring and understanding food insecurity in the U.S.

About food insecurity in America
There are an estimated 50 million food-insecure individuals in America, of which 1 in 5 are children under 5 years (according to the USDA). The traditional food rescue model has high overhead and fresh food waste caused by additional levels of infrastructure and food handling via fleets of trucks, drivers and warehousing. Utilizing the cloud-based “Go Rescue” App and volunteer model, Community Plates eliminates much of the overhead of the traditional food rescue process, while delivering fresher (and thereby healthier) food directly to the hungry.

About Community Plates
Community Plates is committed to ending food insecurity in America. Recognizing the problem as a matter of logistics, not a lack of food, the organization established a volunteer-driven, technology-fueled method for transferring surplus food to those in need. The simple process involves food donors (grocery stores, restaurants, caterers, bakeries and other food-service establishments), food runners (individuals who pick-up and deliver donated food) and receiving agencies (soup kitchens, pantries, etc.). Connecting the donated food, volunteer transfer, and receiving agency in a timely and seamless fashion is made easy with Community Plates’ GoRescue technology. Since Community Plates was founded in 2011, more than 700 volunteers have rescued food that equates to two-million meals. Launched and headquartered in Fairfield County, CT, Community Plates also operates in New Haven, CT, Albuquerque, NM and Columbus, OH with plans to expand to four more markets in 2014. For more information or to get involved visit: foodrescueus.wpengine.com

Seeking the Key Member of the Fairfield County Food Rescue Team

By now you probably know what we’re about but just in case you don’t, we’re all about ending American food insecurity through direct transfer food rescue.  We just entered the 2013-2014 food rescue season where we have our sights set on rescuing 3,000,000 meals for hungry Americans.  (You can see more about that here)

We have a small but potent team but as you can see our vision for addressing this problem without a good reason for being is anything but small.  Our core team is made up of passionate, energetic people who are consumed  with delivering as much good food to those in need as possible.  Our team values simplicity, community, gratitude, creativity and “saying yes.”

If this sounds like you and you’d like to be a part of the food rescue revolution at a very integral level, Community Plates is for you. Join us and be ready to share what you’ve learned, what you do best and who you are and then get ready to make a huge difference for your neighbors and people all over the country.

Position

We are seeking a leader passionate about positive change to direct Fairfield County, our flagship site. The requirements are simple; ability to build and motivate a team, strong computer skills and strong organizational skills for managing all the moving parts of direct transfer food rescue in Fairfield County.  This position is about commitment to rapid growth focused on 100,000 plus individuals in this county who can’t provide for themselves the food they or their families need to live healthily.

The function of the National team is to administratively support our site directors in their food rescue mission, so when considering if you’re right for this opportunity think less about filling out stacks of paperwork and more about passionately motivating a movement.

Position Benefits

·       Ground floor access and voice to a game changing, innovative food justice platform.

·       Ability to work directly with Community Plate’s core team including our National Site Director and Executive Director.

·       Opportunity to see direct impact on underserved peoples.

·       Monthly cash stipend.

Responsibilities

• Build and manage Fairfield County’s direct transfer food rescue team.
• Set and meet growth goals related to annual “meals rescued” goals.
• Identify potential donors (both in-kind and financial) for followup.
• Public speaking a plus but not required.
• Work with National Site Director to develop GoRescue food rescue application.

Qualifications

•       Interest in non-profit organizations, passion for the cause and a desire to learn about and support Community Plate’s mission.
•       Excellent interpersonal, oral and written communication skills.
•       Knowledge of: Microsoft Office, Google Apps, Twitter, Facebook
•       Ability to manage time, balance multiple tasks, and meet deadlines
•       Familiarity and previous Community Plates experience a plus

Compensation & Time

We are looking to fill this position as soon as possible

·       Compensation:  Monthly cash stipend

·       Time:  10-15 hours per week, schedule can be determined based on availability all hours can be completed remotely.

·       Location: Wherever you can be doing the most good

·       Application Deadline: November 7, 2013; Will review applications on a rolling basis

How to Apply: To apply, send cover letter and resume to opportunities@communityplates.org. Please include “Fairfield County Site Director” in the subject line.

Looking For An Awesome Part Time Office Adminstator

By now you probably know what we’re about but just in case you don’t, we’re all about ending American food insecurity through direct transfer food rescue.  We just entered the 2013-2014 food rescue season where we have our sights set on rescuing 3,000,000 meals for hungry Americans.  (You can see more about that here)

We have a small but potent team but as you can see our vision for addressing this problem without a good reason for being is anything but small.  Our core team is made up of passionate, energetic people who are consumed  with delivering as much good food to those in need as possible.  Our team values simplicity, community, gratitude, creativity and “saying yes.”

If this sounds like you and you’d like to be a part of the food rescue revolution at a very integral level, Community Plates is for you.  Join us and be ready to share what you’ve learned, what you do best and who you are and then get ready to make a huge difference for your neighbors and people all over the country.

Position

Community Plates is seeking a part time office administrator to work in our Norwalk office (our only office).  This position provides support for the Executive Director and four national sites and reports directly to the Executive Director.

Position Benefits

·       Ground floor access and voice to a game changing, innovative food justice platform.

·       Ability to work directly with Community Plate’s core team including our National Site Director and Executive Director.

·       Opportunity to see direct impact on underserved peoples.

Responsibilities

• Compose/edit correspondence.
• Schedule appointments and manage company’s schedule
• Answer the telephone with a pleasant and professional demeanor
• Manage incoming and outgoing mail and email
• Filing, faxing, copying, etc.
• Light bookkeeping.
• Data entry into and maintenance of award winning GoRescue food rescue application.
• CRM entry and maintenance.

Qualifications

•       Interest in non-profit organizations, passion for the cause and desire to learning about and supporting Community Plate’s mission.
•       Excellent writing, editing, and proofreading skills
•       Knowledge of: Microsoft Office, Google Apps, Twitter, Facebook
Knowledge of HTML, WordPress, Adobe Suites and database management systems a plus
•       Strong interpersonal, oral, and written communications skills
•       Detail oriented and solid personal organizational skills
•       Ability to manage time, balance multiple tasks, and meet deadlines

Compensation & Time

We are looking to fill this position as soon as possible

·       Compensation:  Currently a volunteer position.

·       Time:  10-15 hours per week, schedule can be determined based on availability, some hours can be completed remotely, some set office hours.

·       Location: Office location in Norwalk TBD

·       Application Deadline: November 7, 2013; Will review applications on a rolling basis

How to Apply: To apply, send cover letter and resume to opportunities@communityplates.org. Please include “Part Time Office Administrator” in the subject line.

Press Release: Community Plates Wins 2013 Computerworld Honors Program

 

 

 

For Immediate Release

Community Plates’ Go Rescue Technology, Powered by WhenToManage, Wins 2013 Computerworld Honors Program “21st Century Achievement Award”

Community Plates’ game-changing technology helps rescue millions of meals for food-insecure Americans

Norwalk, CT (June 6,  2013) –Community Plates is proud to announce that its Go Rescue technology, powered by WhenToManage, has been recognized with a 2013 Computerworld Honors Program 21st Century Achievement Award.  The annual awards program pays tribute to organizations that use information technology to promote and advance the public welfare, benefit society and business. Community Plates received the top honor in the Human Services category from among 29 Laureates.  Community Plates is a technology-fueled, volunteer-driven, nonprofit organization that rescues surplus food from supermarkets, grocers, and restaurants, and distributes it directly to local receiving agencies that serve individuals and families in need.  There are an estimated 50 million food-insecure individuals in America, of which 1 in 5 are children under 5 years (according to the USDA).

“We are very proud to have received the top honor in the Human Services category of the 2013 Computerworld Honors Program,” said Kevin Mullins, executive director and co-founder, Community Plates.  “We appreciate that IDG’s Computerworld recognizes the important role our disruptive technology is playing in helping to achieve our goal of ending food insecurity in America.”

Community Plates was launched in 2010 by WhenToManage.  As an innovator of cloud-based software for the restaurant, hospitality and retail industries, WhenToManage recognized the opportunity to streamline the food rescue process utilizing technology and so developed the Go Rescue App.  The traditional food rescue model relies on multi-layered infrastructure and excessive food handling via fleets of trucks, drivers and warehousing, which requires significant overhead and time, greatly limiting the ability to transfer perishable, fresh food.  Utilizing the Go Rescue App and volunteer food runners, Community Plates eliminates much of this overhead, while delivering fresher (and thereby healthier) food directly to those in need.

“Our award-winning Go Rescue App is playing a key role in enabling us to streamline the food rescue process,” said Jeff Schacher, CEO and founder, WhenToManage.  “We built Go Rescue on WhenToManage’s Peach platform which allows us to quickly develop and update applications to meet the specific needs of the industries we serve.  This environment also enables us to easily continue modifying Go Rescue to further enhance the food rescue process, and over time, meet other nonprofit’s needs.”

The Computerworld Honors Program Awards Ceremony was held on June 3, 2013 at the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium in Washington, D.C.  At the event this year’s 267 Laureates were honored, with 5 finalists and one 21st Century Achievement Award presented in each of 11 categories.

About Community Plates

Launched and headquartered in Fairfield County, CT, Community Plates also operates in Albuquerque, NM and Columbus, OH, with plans to expand to a dozen additional markets by 2014.  More than 650 volunteers have transferred food equivalent to over a million meals to date, served to food-insecure individuals and families through food pantries, soup kitchens, and community centers.  For more information or to get involved visit:  http://communityplate.wpengine.com.

 

About WhenToManage

WhenToManage is comprised of a team of professionals with years of true restaurant operations experience from the top down, and a passion for creating software that they, in turn, would be excited to use. The result is a restaurant operating system that is more accessible, easier to use, and requires less training and support.  WhenToManage offers subscription-based solutions for POS intelligence, inventory management and employee scheduling, as well as customized deployments. For more information, please visit http://whentomanage.com.

 

High Schoolers Grow Fresh Produce and Collaborate With Community Plates

Here’s just another example of the different ways we are able to get more fresh food to those in need.

Wilton (CT) High School’s organic garden teaches kids about environmental science AND donates the produce grown to food insecure people in their community.

Check out the full article here and forward it on to someone you know who might like to do something similar.  We can’t wait to send our food runners for more fresh food!

http://www.townvibe.com/Wilton/May-June-2013/In-the-Dirt/