New Haven (CT) Site Launch Press Release

 

 

 

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Alison Sherman
800-280-3298 x2
asherman@communityplates.org

CONNECTICUT BASED COMMUNITY PLATES LAUNCHES IN NEW HAVEN
ESTABLISHED FOOD RESCUE ORGANIZATION APPOINTS SITE DIRECTOR

Group anticipates rescuing meals for New Haven’s food insecure by month’s end
Community Plates has rescued more than a million meals utilizing technology-fueled, volunteer driven, direct-transfer model

 

April 10, 2013 (Fairfield County, CT) –  Community Plates, the Connecticut based food rescue organization, has announced their launch, and appointment of a Site Director, in New Haven, CT.  This marks the opening of the fourth location, nationwide, for the innovative hunger relief group and they expect to begin rescuing food by month’s end.  Albuquerque, NM, Columbus, OH and Fairfield, CT are already community based sites in the fight against food insecurity in the United States where Community Plates is leading the charge.  The organization’s proprietary, groundbreaking technology, the GoRescue App, has allowed them to rescue over one million meals in under two years, all of it directly transferred by over 300 volunteer drivers nationwide, for immediate use, to over 40 receiving agencies.

Kala Cuerington, the new Site Director, comes to Community Plates with extensive experience in the New Haven nutrition and education fields: she is a service member with Food Corps, works with Common Ground’s School Resource Center and is Chair of the Hew Haven Food Policy Council’s School Food Working Group.  On joining Community Plates, Ms. Cuerington recently stated, “I look forward to leading the Community Plates team in New Haven, focused on getting healthy food to those who need it, in an innovative way.”

When asked why New Haven was chosen as the new site, in light of the many inquiries Community Plates has had from locations across the country, Executive Director Kevin Mullins replied, “We selected New Haven as our next launch site due to the high incidence of food insecurity and proximity to our headquarters in Fairfield County, but those were not the only reasons.  We are about communities helping their own communities, and New Haven has a rich tradition in grass roots organizations which is critical in this first phase as we sign up volunteer food runners, food donors and receiving agencies.  We just knew this was the right place.”

Founded in January 2011, Community Plates is committed to ending American food-insecurity through direct-transfer food rescue. Established as a 501(c)3 non-profit food-rescue platform, Community Plates is focused on transferring healthy, usable foods to where it can help feed those in need. This volunteer-driven, technology fueled process coordinates with restaurants, grocers, bakeries, caterers and other food-service organizations who have foods destined to be thrown away and delivers the food to soup-kitchens, food-pantries and other hunger relief organizations who serve food-insecure individuals and families.

 

Community Plates Named a 2013 Computerworld Honors Program Laureate (Press Release)




Community Plates’ Go Rescue Technology Powered By WhenToManage Named a 2013 Computerworld Honors Program Laureate

Community Plates rescues more than a million meals utilizing technology-fueled, direct-transfer model

Norwalk, CT (March 19, 2013) – IDG’s Computerworld today announced that Community Plates’ Go Rescue technology, powered by WhenToManage, has been selected by a panel of 22 distinguished judges as a 2013 Computerworld Honors Program Laureate.  The annual award program honors visionary applications of information technology promoting positive social, economic and educational change.  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).

“There is no reason for any American to go hungry with our country’s ample food supply.  We simply need better logistics which is exactly what the Community Plates’ model provides,” said Kevin Mullins, executive director and co-founder, Community Plates.  “Our goal is to END food insecurity in America and we are honored to be recognized by Computerworld for the technology that is playing a vital role in advancing this goal.”

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 through technology and proceeded to develop 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, requiring high overhead and too much time to allow for the transfer of 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.

“The Go Rescue App provides a unique ‘self-serve volunteer management system’ through which volunteer food runners sign-up for food runs, receive details, and track information in real-time while in the process of transferring rescued food,” said Jeff Schacher, CEO and founder, WhenToManage.  “Go Rescue is built on a PaaS – platform-as-a-service – allowing us to readily add new features.  In addition, it’s a technology that can easily be adopted by other nonprofits looking to streamline operations and further engage and utilize volunteers.”

“Technology continues to play a pivotal role in transforming how business and society functions. For the past 25 years the Computerworld Honors Program has had the privilege of celebrating innovative IT achievements,” said John Amato, vice president & publisher, Computerworld. “Computerworld is honored to recognize the outstanding accomplishments of the 2013 class of Laureates and to share their work. These projects demonstrate how IT can advance organizations’ ability to compete, innovate, communicate and prosper.”

The Computerworld Honors Program awards will be presented at the Gala Evening and Awards Ceremony on June 3, 2013 at the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium in Washington, D.C.

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.

About The Computerworld Honors Program
Founded by International Data Group (IDG) in 1988, The Computerworld Honors Program is governed by the not-for-profit Computerworld Information Technology Awards Foundation. Computerworld Honors is the longest running global program to honor individuals and organizations that use information technology to promote positive social, economic and educational change. Additional information about the program and a Global Archive of past Laureate case studies and oral histories of Leadership Award recipients can be found at the Computerworld Honors website http://events.computerworld.com/2013Honors.

 

Just a Normal Part of Your Day


Direct transfer food rescue is at least two things:

1.  One of the most important things you can do to change the reality of hungry people that live in your community

2.  Something you can do in between everything else you have going on.

I don’t know anyone who doesn’t have a lot going on.  When I first started building teams a long time I was told  “if you want to get anything done, ask busy people”.  The idea was that busy people know how to get things done.

But what happens when everyone you know is busy?  How are we then supposed to tackle big things hanging over our country (like 15% of our citizens not being able to provide adequate food for them and their families to eat for instance)?

The answer is to make it clear that food rescue can be a normal part of your day.  As you’re driving from and going to.  In between dropping the kids off and picking them up (this is what I spend the majority of many of my days doing).  On your way to work or on your way home.

In other words, change the way you think about this particular way to make a difference. This is not your grandmother’s volunteering opportunity!  This is a live-streaming, self-scheduling, “I’ve got 45 minutes to play with and will use it to feed someone who’s hungry” chance to make a difference.

Don’t stress it…don’t over think it …just join in.

 

Kevin Mullins
Executive Director
Community Plates

 

 

Here’s How Food Rescue Builds Community

Don’t tell anyone but this food rescue revolution that many of you have become a part of has an ulterior motive.  Certainly the driving passion of who we are is to bring an end to the senselessness of  hungry people right in our neighborhoods; but there is something else we hope happens as you are rescuing.

We give it away in our name.  It’s not just about the Plates that are being filled but also about the Community that is formed in the process.

You don’t want a Latin lesson so I’ll spare you a complete etymology, but the word Community is formed from two words; one that means With or Together and one that means Gifts.

I think we often (at least subconsciously) think about the Gift part of what food rescue is, but what I am experiencing both personally as I rescue food and in watching all of you work is an expansion of With and Togetherness.

When you pick up food and transfer it where it can best be used you aren’t just giving a gift, or making a donation of your time or marking something off of your “I need to do something good this week” list.  As you rescue you are saying with your actions to those food donors you pick the food up from and to the distributing agencies you drop the food off to “We’re in this thing  together.”  Most importantly you’re saying to those in need who live right near you “You aren’t alone…we are with you.”

So on second thought..do tell someone.  We need your help…let’s end American hunger together.

 

Kevin Mullins
Executive Director
Community Plates

 

 

Half The World’s Food Thrown Away (Just One Reason Your Work Matters)

A recent study from the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (UK) has been widely reported this week including in the Huffington Post’s Food Waste:  Half Of All Food Ends Up Thrown Away. If you’ve been a Community Plates food runner or a part of the food rescue conversation for any time at all, you won’t be surprised that lots of food is going to waste.  (We’ve talked about the “why” quite a bit.) This report puts the problem on display however on a staggering scale that is really hard to comprehend.

When we read for instance that out of the 4 billion tons of food produced worldwide, 30 to 50% of it (1.2 billion to 2 billion tons) doesn’t get eaten, it’s hard to grasp.  When we read that the U.S. and Europe are by far the worst offending food-wasters, we probably aren’t surprised, but it’s no less difficult to handle.

We’ve often been asked at Community Plates “why not spend your time on world hunger” and our answer has more and more often been “by starting right here in the U.S. where food waste is at its absolute worst, that’s exactly what we’re doing.”  Community Plates food runners rescued the equivalent of 750k meals in their first 18 months on the job and will rescue between 1 and 1.5 million meals in the calendar year of 2013.  If we can duplicate that growth (and because of our scalable, sustainable model which grows not by simple addition but exponentially, this is what we expect) we will start to see similarly staggering numbers of meals rescued even with the next few years.

We’re not quite ready to make a 2020 projection yet but here’s what we know; You…Community Plates food runners are reversing a senseless, potentially devastating world trend one food rescue at a time.

Thanks for what you do…

Please invite someone to join the cause today!

Kevin Mullins
Executive Director
Community Plates

A New Model That Changes Everything For The U.S.A’s Hungry

One thing I really like about the new year is how many people attempt to make big changes.  I happen to be one of those weird people who enjoy change, so a season like this is right up my alley.  Since I also spent much of the holidays thinking about hungry people in the U.S. (and how absurd it is to even be able to say that) this seemed like a good time to remind us all that Community Plates is changing the game when it comes to food rescue and feeding the food insecure.  There is an old model for food rescue and there is the Community Plates model and the differences are distinct and important to the bottom line.

The old model is dependent on warehouses, workers and trucks, which means that overhead costs necessarily increase with each food rescue.  In the Community Plates volunteer driven, direct transfer model overhead costs actually decrease with each food rescue.  Overhead remains virtually fixed while more and more meals are delivered.

The old model offers limited fresh food since the time required to warehouse and sort food at a intermediary facility means fresh food often spoils before it can be eaten.  The Community Plates direct transfer model offers more of the fresh food vital for healthy living.  Our immediate-delivery platform allows us to deliver more  fresh food to food pantries and soup kitchens in our communities

The old model necessitates sorting and storage which means that rescued food in an intermediary facility often waits several days before being distributed to those in need.  In the Community Plates direct transfer model food rescued today is delivered today and can be distributed to those in need, to be eaten…today.

As you’re considering a new year and looking at new opportunities, please consider this:

There are millions of food insecure people in the U.S. and no good reason for it to be that way.  The game has changed.  Passionate people powered by technology are making a huge difference, one food rescue at a time.  We’ve worked out the logistics, we just need your help.  Let’s end this together.

Kevin Mullins
Executive Director
Community Plates

Some Of This Change Is Good (Response To Bittman’s NYT Article)

In a recent online commentary, New York Times food writer Mark Bittman does well to point out that to talk about hunger in the U.S. is to talk about change.  The face of hunger in America has been changing for years now and pieces like Bittman’s go a long way in raising awareness of the quickness of the change and its pervasiveness.  When he points out that there are now 46 million Americans participating in the federal government’s Supplemental Assistance Nutrition Program (SNAP) and that there should be more he gets right to the heart of why we were compelled to start Community Plates in the first place.   Bittman couldn’t be more correct when writing “it seems absurd to have to say it, but no one in this country should go hungry.”

He’s exactly right.  In fact the way we’ve been saying it for a while now is “Hunger in the U.S. makes no sense.”  This disconnect was the other half of what began our food rescue journey; the reality of how much need there is coupled with the realization of how much food was going to waste.  Bittman notes that organizations who serve our countries food insecure population are now “providing their clients more fresh food than ever before.”

It’s in this statement about new opportunities and fresh food that I think we can be encouraged that some of  the change in the United States’ hunger conversation is actually good.

1.  Change is good when our minds are being changed; as we become more and more aware of the need around us (Bittman remind us here of our neighbors).

2.  Change is good when we are more open to fresh solutions to growing problems.  This includes making sure nothing usable goes to waste, realizing that “sell by dates” are not the same as expiration dates (see “Where Our Food Rescue Opportunity Comes From” for more on this) and making sure that we get the food as quickly as possible to where it can do the most good.  In other words we are beginning to see a change when it comes to the urgency with which we approach this senseless problem.

SNAP is doing good work, as well as our nation’s network of food banks.  Community Plates is happy to have joined this charge with the thought that a food rescue platform built on technology and powered exclusively volunteers just might be the next important, sustainable change that is needed to see American food insecurity brought to its end.

If our urgency matches the urgency of the problem, then we are talking about a change we should all be able to embrace.

Join the food rescue revolution at www.foodrescueus.wpengine.com

 

Kevin Mullins
Executive Director
Community Plates

 

 

Everything Else Comes Second

There’s an ancient story about a young man who spends all day hunting and comes back home absolutely starving from his exertions.  He’s so hungry in fact that in order to get just a solitary bowl of soup he trades away his inheritance.  Now the moral of the story is usually something about not being short-sighted and trading away the future for instant gratification…but this moral misses the most basic of points (not to mention how special that soup must have been.)

This same point hits harder for me everyday when my kids come home from school. These are kids that don’t miss meals; they have breakfast opportunities, get lunch at school and know that unless anything has changed from the previous days of their lives, dinner is on the way.  But they arrive home just “famished” everyday and are completely blind to all of the chores, homework and other activities their parents had planned until they get something to eat.

Hunger comes first.

We’ve always known this and now study after study supports it.  In the case of children, their ability to perform well academically and even to develop their social skills is impaired by their inability to eat well. But it’s not just kids and it’s not just academics.  It’s everyone who has to worry about where and what they’re going to eat next.  Because if you’re worried about what’s to eat you really can’t worry about anything else.

Many years ago Abraham Maslow very helpfully listed a whole lot of good things that can’t be achieved if our most basic physiological needs  aren’t met.  Things like morality, problem-solving, self-esteem, friendship, employment and health.  Good Maslow, very good.

So when it comes to the 50,000,000 plus Americans who cannot supply for themselves or their families the amount and quality of food necessary for healthy living, getting them fed comes before all of those other good things they want and need and must be the priority of the compassionate communities they live in.

When we throw away close to 40% of the food available to us, there’s no reason our neighbors have to be stuck at this most basic of levels.

Community Plates and its food-runners are freeing food insecure Americans to focus on bigger and better things, one food rescue at a time.  Direct-transfer food rescue solves this needless, escalating, all-consuming problem.

Join Us!

Kevin Mullins
Executive Director

This Food Here, That Person There

One of the things that we often hear from people who have recently joined the food rescue revolution is how much they enjoy the immediate access to volunteering opportunities the Community Plates app gives them and the immediate impact their food running can make.

Not everyone has the ability to volunteer a set amount of hours every week at a set time and place, but many people still want to make a difference in the time they do have available.  CP “The App” (you can get signed up here) was designed specifically to allow for people who might have limited and specific times they need to serve but still want to; it’s a “right here, right now” application.  So if this hypothetical busy person wakes up on Saturday morning and realizes that they have a window of time to serve between 10 and 11am that particular day, the App will give them all the information they need to make the best possible use of their time.  (what could be better than feeding hungry people)

And there’s nothing better than giving your time to something that changes someone else’s reality for the good immediately.  Since the food we rescue is delivered directly to soup kitchens who cook it up right away and directly to food pantries who get it delivered to families in need right away our food runners often deliver food which is being eaten within minutes and hours of when it was rescued.

One of our food runners recently described the connection to her community she felt when she was walking in the door of a food pantry in Connecticut, past a line of people waiting to eat and realized that “this food here that I just rescued will very likely be eaten by that person there.”

Not everything worth having in life can be achieved quickly.  I’ve heard wine for instance gets better as time passes.  But when you’re hungry…I mean really stomach gnawing, I can’t concentrate on my work or studies, painful type hungry…you need food right here and right now.

Community Plates food runners are making those kinds of connections everyday.

Join us.

Where Our Food Rescue Opportunity Comes From

During the question and answer time of a presentation I was  making recently I was asked the question that most people wonder before they start rescuing food.  “What kinds of food will we be rescuing?”  In other words, potential food rescuers want to know “why is there so much waste” and “what will I actually be transferring.”

It takes a lot of different types of waste to get to the 25% to 40% of all the food Americans  have access to that is wasted, but here are just a few categories that make up the majority of what a Community Plates food runner is most likely to rescue:

1.  Surplus Food–  The restauranteurs that we serve do their best to keep waste down but some waste is unavoidable.  Our markets and grocers place a premium (because their shoppers demand it) on always having completely stocked shelves.  A new shipment is coming in tomorrow and the “old” food has to come off the shelf, even if it’s not really all that old.  Over-preparation and over-stocking is necessary then to ensure they provide the best customer service and the result is lots of potential waste.  Much of the food that we rescue is not flawed in any way but is simply surplus.

2.  Slightly Bruised or Slightly Damaged Food or Packaging–  Not only do we want fully stocked shelves but the food has to look a certain way too.  Grocers are constantly removing from their shelves fruits, vegetables, boxes and cans that are in “almost” perfect shape.  The apple at your house with the small bruise that you would just cut off and eat is the apple that the grocer can’t sell.  Much of the food that we rescue is “just about” flawless.

3.  Expiring Food–  Some foods are deemed to be expiring because they are approaching ripe and sometimes there are actual “sell by” or “expiration” dates approaching.  None of these things mean the food is bad or even close to bad.  Sell by and expiration dates are almost always related to food quality (usually with a very high standard attached) and almost never to food safety.  Much of the food we rescue is going bad by a printed date only.

The extremely high standards Americans demand of the food-service organizations who serve them provide a real opportunity for the 50 million of us who can’t provide the amount of food or quality of food necessary for healthy living.  Access to surplus, slightly damaged and expiring foods mean that none of the 1 in 7 children in the U.S. currently going hungry have to continue to do so.

There are other food rescue opportunities that arise but these three categories cover most of the food that a Community Plates food runner will get the chance to rescue.  After a few food rescues most people go from asking the “what kind of food will we rescue” question to amazement at the amount of food that would have been potentially wasted but instead they are able to transfer to feed the hungry.

Join Us.

Food For All.

Kevin Mullins
Executive Director
Community Plates