Getting to Know: Community Plates in Fairfield County, Connecticut

 


Facts & Figures

  • Year Founded: 2011

  • Meals Rescued: 8,042,750

  • Food Runners 315

  • Food Donors: 46


What Our Fairfield County Volunteers Have to Say

“The 30 minutes I spend doing a food run are more rewarding and fulfilling than the hours I spend at my 9-5 job.

– Sam Mauro, Community Plates Volunteer Food Runner in Fairfield County, CT

I volunteer try to to make a difference for the better in other people’s lives and to remind myself that we are all connected together. Bottom line: good intentions don’t change the world, people do.

– Kate Albrecht, Community Plates Site Director for Fairfield County 

b.good has always wanted the communities we are in to be better because we are there. We think that connecting our customers to volunteer opportunities with Community Plates and providing a tangible means of addressing food insecurity in our community is a particularly impactful way of doing just that. We hope you’ll join us in signing up for a food run this March! Post a photo of your run with the hashtag #bgooddoesgood and we’ll send you a free b.good meal of your choice to thank you for your service.

– Allie Kroner, Community Development Director, b.good  and Executive Director, b.good Family Foundation

I love rescuing food because I know that if my life circumstances had been a little bit different, I could have been the one in need.

– Kevin Mullins, Community Plates Executive Director


Meet 3 Fairfield County Food Donors

Fleishers Craft Butchery

Screen Shot 2016-03-17 at 8.38.07 AMFleishers and Craft Butchery (Westport, CT) joined forces in support of one mission: to produce better tasting meat that’s better for their customers, their farmers and the land they share.

Craft Butchery, founded in 2011 by former Fleishers apprentices Paul Nessel and Ryan Fibiger, has led the most recent charge of local butcher shops creating industry-wide change in the way that we produce and consume meat.

Mrs. Greens_-uv3wIl_400x400

Mrs Greens has been an active donor to Community Plates for over two years, providing fresh, organic produce, dairy, bakery items, and much more each week.

Our goal is to educate and inspire our customers to eat well and live a good, healthy lifestyle.

Whole Foods, Danbury, CT

h9-UkNZv_400x400This northern Fairfield County location has been a great partner for Community Plates and pivotal in helping us make an impact in food insecurity in the greater Danbury area.

 

 

 


Meet Kate Albrecht, Community Plates Fairfield County Site Director

12313701_814884285301608_6988824114803624401_nWhat is your role at Community Plates?

I was recently named the Fairfield County Site Director. I work with our donors and partner agencies to grow the organization, manage the schedule of food runs and support our incredible team of volunteers. It’s amazing the number of hours that so many volunteers put in every single week to make Community Plates work.

What do you like to do in your free time?

I love cooking, especially baking bread. A few years ago I worked a 5am shift at a bakery so I could learn to make proper bread, and now I make bread at home once a week. I read a lot, especially non-fiction. I am a bit of a news junkie. And I love exercise. I have been learning to row, which is really hard but also incredibly rewarding.

How did you first become inspired around issues of hunger and food insecurity?

When I learned about what Community Plates was doing — taking advantage of a free resource to get healthy food to those who need it most — I was really motivated to get involved. When you consider how much food is thrown away in our country, it really hits home that hunger in the US, and in Fairfield County, makes no sense.

Can you share a memorable moment from one of your food runs?

I love taking my children on food runs. They love seeing the back of a grocery store (so do I, truth told), but they are also amazed by the amount of food that we collect and the number of people we can help feed. They take the work really seriously and have a lot of pride about their involvement.

 

Read the full profile


 

Food Insecurity in the News: Obama’s free lunch plan, Ugly Produce Update, Farm to Fridge

Our recent reading list of the people, places, and discussions taking place in food insecurity across the country.


Obama’s plan to give free lunches to millions of kids

The Obama administration will announce new plans Wednesday to launch a pilot program aimed at increasing poor children’s access to food through the National School Lunch Program.

The pilot program will allow participating states to use Medicaid data to automatically certify students for free and reduced-price school lunches. Currently, families have to submit an application — a laborious process for parents and a costly one for schools — even when they have already proven that they are income-eligible through their participation in other government assistance programs.

Read the full story on the WashingtonPost.com


Q&A Ensuring Food Security for All

CFS-Chair-Gornass-260As the Ambassador of the Republic of the Sudan to Italy and Permanent Representative of the Republic of the Sudan to the UN Food and Agriculture organizations in Rome, Amira Daoud Hassan Gornass, takes-up her role as Chair of the Committee on World Food Security (CFS), she shares her vision for the future of food security.

Read the full interview on IPSNews.com

 


Getting Ugly Produce onto Hungry People’s Plates

Every fall, farmers in Washington throw away a sizable portion of the apples they grow. In 2015, thanks to the West Coast port slowdown and a lack of refrigeration, farmers in the state dumped an estimated $100 million worth of the fruit (or 143,000 bushels) in fields where they were left to rot, causing the nearby town to smell like rancid fruit for days.

Read the full story on CivilEats.com


How Regional Food Hubs Shrink the Path from Farm to Fridge

aggregators-hjero-1Williams decided to give it a go anyway, launching Field Goods four years ago. Her subscription-based service, located in Athens, operates like a CSA on steroids, connecting 80 farms to 3,000 customers. By taking on the role of intermediary—determining which products to include, drumming up demand, and delivering the goods to locations in New York and Connecticut—she relieves farmers of the burden of marketing and prods consumers to make better choices, without leaving a big carbon footprint.

Read the full story on ModernFarmer.com

 

Partner Spotlight: La Soupe in Cincinnati, Ohio

Meet our Community Plates partners. These organizations, companies, restaurants and markets are part of our community dedicated to helping eliminate hunger in the U.S. 


Community Plates recently announced a partnership with La Soupe in Cincinnati, Ohio to grow our food rescue community and collaborate with La Soupe to reach the food insecure in this city using our technology.

La Soupe is growing! We have made incredible impact on hunger in our community with a relatively small number of partnerships with local grocers and growers. But if we can salvage ten times more food, we can feed ten times more people. And we can.

We are now engaged with the Community Plates app that opens the way for explosive growth. It’s a volunteer’s dream, making the task of food rescue simple, efficient and rewarding. What if Cincinnati was known as the city that transformed the way our entire nation addresses hunger and food waste? – Suzy, La Soupe

Location: Cincinnati, Ohio

About: Motivated by community and impassioned by food, La Soupe works boldly as a non-profit to find solutions for hunger in Cincinnati. Headed by chef Suzy DeYoung, their rotating menu features pot-friendly entrees, croque du jour, therapeutic broths, and seasonal specialties. These delicious, nutrient-dense meals are distributed to customers and the food-insecure alike. With their network of supporters, they rescue roughly 1,000 pounds of produce per week and have fed 45,000 children to date.

Websitehttp://lasoupecincinnati.com/ or Volunteer with La Soupe

Follow on Facebookfacebook.com/La-Soupe

Food Insecurity in the News: Shareable Community Gardens, Ugly Fruit, Food Rescue in Philly

Our weekly reading list of the people, places, and discussions taking place in food insecurity across the country.


Food is Free in a City Near You via Civil Eats.

RedCurrantHarvest-e1440721115530-300x252The Pick Me! initiative was inspired in part by the Food is Free Project in Austin, Texas, a nonprofit that creates wicking bed gardens with reclaimed materials, such as wooden pallets and political signs. The organization hosts weekly build events to line entire streets with low-maintenance beds. The gatherings double as free workshops where residents learn to set up their own gardens and use eco-friendly growing techniques.


Community Plates Receives Grant from Fairfield’s Community Foundation via Community Plates.

Community Plates, the Connecticut-based food rescue organization, has some great news. Fairfield County Community Foundation awarded a $15,000 grant to Community Plates to support the expansion of the organization’s local food rescue efforts.


In produce, ugliness is only skin deep via LA Times.

la-oe-0908-figuereido-ugly-fruit-006Approximately 26% of all fruits and vegetables are thrown away before they even reach grocery stores in the United States, leading to billions of pounds of waste each year. Perfectly edible, wonderfully nutritious apples, peaches, carrots and onions rot in our landfills — in a country where 1 in 6 people are considered food insecure and where more than 80% of us are not eating enough produce. Fully 25% of fresh water goes to food we don’t eat.


Feeding People, Creating Jobs with Would-be Waste in Philadelphia via Civil Eats.

A Philadelphia grocery store chain tries to keep food waste out of landfills, feed the hungry, and make a little money.

Imagine making thousands of dollars a month for something you’re going to throw away. Oh yeah—and you’d be helping feed hungry people.

Sound good? According to a pilot project in West Philadelphia, it’s entirely possible for grocery stores. And the folks involved are hoping that when the pope visits the City of Brotherly Love next month, they can show the world a new way to deal with the global problem of food waste.

Letter from the Director: Food Innovation & Food Insecurity at FTI15

Jeff and I have just returned from the 2015 Farm to Table Conference in New Orleans where we had the privilege of hosting one of the breakout sessions in Food Innovation.

It was truly exciting to be surrounded by so many innovative, creative people passionate about making a difference in the food industry and even more importantly, doing it through the food industry. The opening plenary session was a great way to start in connecting us all to the importance of encouraging people to be in tactile contact with food and all of the important effects of that on our communities.  This idea really resonated with us since, many food runners have reported feeling more deeply connected to their communities after rescuing food and delivering it to receiving agencies for distribution to food insecure families. For us it’s always been about “this food here” feeding “these people here” so this opening talk really supported what our experience has been.

I want to thank each and every one of you for fueling the food rescue revolution in your own communities; this weekend showed us that we are on the right track to ending hunger in this country, one community at a time.

Kevin Mullins

Executive Director
CommunityPlates

Photo: c/o Sunny Young ‏@sunnyspeaksfood of Keynote Speaker Temple Grandin

It’s Your Passion That Fuels Us

The quality I admire most in people is passion.  It’s always impressive to spend time with someone who is super smart, and I have a few ridiculously talented friends, and even a few who are awfully good looking and still let me hang out with them occasionally. But it’s the passionate ones I most want to emulate. As overused as the word is, we identified passion as a core value when we launched Community Plates four years ago. We had a sense even then that the only way we could move the needle on national hunger was if we could help motivate a movement of people with an intense, burning desire to make sure that no one in our country was hungry.

And it takes passion to be a Community Plates food runner. Passion drives our volunteers through the messiness of picking up fresh usable food, (yes it can be messy). It’s passion that puts people in their cars on their lunch hours and after they’ve worked all day to give 30 minutes to feed 30 people. It’s passion that pushes a new food runner to sign up for a second food run after the first one comes up empty (it happens sometimes) and when there’s so much food that the food donor asks you to come back for a second trip (yeah, that happens sometimes too).

Our food runners are what fuel Community Plates and it’s passion that fuels you. So, it’s your passion that fires our drive to end food insecurity for over 50 million Americans who find themselves in that place.  For me, when my passion dips, it’s the food rescue itself that stirs it up again; signing up and completing a food rescue and realizing again how much of our food we are throwing away, how simple it can be to get the food where it can do the most good, and how many people who live in such close proximity to me are in need of that very same food.

If it’s been a while since you went on a food rescue, sign up right now and stir up your passion!  Your community needs that fuel more than anything else and more than ever.

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