Recently I got to see (and participate in) what kind of real difference food-rescue can make. It’s possible to just pick up and deliver food yet be disconnected from the results of the work one has done. It’s always nice to reconnect to the importance of the cause by seeing the results of one’s labor.
On a regular run to a Trader Joe’s location, I picked up a large load of food that included chicken breasts, fresh spinach and onions. I didn’t pay close attention to those items at the time since my main purpose was to get the food where it needed to be and because these were just a few items among many.
I dropped off the items at The Open Door Shelter in Norwalk, which serves meals to not only the homeless population, but also to other food-insecure individuals and families from the area. My job was done after loading in the bins.
A few hours later when I went back to pick up the bins I experienced a strong affirmation of the importance of food-rescue and the value of the direct-transfer feature of the Community Plates food-rescue platform.
As I was walking through the kitchen on the way to get our bins, Alex, one of the chefs there called me in with an excited “Come in here and look!” Alex opened up one side of the large ovens and pulled out a rack to reveal one of three very large trays of a delicious-smelling, tasty-looking dish. The dish was primarily composed of the chicken, spinach and onions I had dropped off just a few hours before.
I was impacted first of all by how quickly a difference had been made. The total time from food-transfer to people eating the food was probably less than five hours. This “quick-hit” benefit has been confirmed on many subsequent food-rescues as well. Secondly, I was impressed with the creativity of the chef. He modified his previous plan for that night’s dinner when he received some high-quality ingredients. This requires flexibility and imagination and on that day Alex had those in abundance. Finally, I was encouraged that the residents and clients of The Open Door Shelter got a better meal on that day than they would have otherwise. It wasn’t just healthier food, but just as importantly it tasted better and out of the ordinary.
How cool is it that we have the chance to make “out of the ordinary” differences in the lives of people who are struggling every day for the most basic of needs?