Meet Miss Joyce of Wilson Food Pantry in Stamford, Connecticut

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.
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missjoyce2 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.”
missjoyce1 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.

missjoyce3Usually 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.

Five Ways You Can Support Hunger Action Month Locally

Hunger affects every community, and during Hunger Action Month, Community Plates is sharing five ways you can make a difference in your own neighborhood:

  1. 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.

  1. 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

  1. 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.

  1. Join the community and follow and tag us on social media! 
  1. Get your favorite market or restaurant to donate instead of waste.

This is easier than you think. Learn more about becoming a Community Plates food donor.

Food Donor Spotlight: Colgan Farms in Windsor, Connecticut

Meet our Community Plates donors. These organizations, companies, restaurants, farms, and markets are part of our community dedicated to helping eliminate hunger in the U.S. Our donors are the backbone to what we do, and provide the food that volunteer food runners rescue and deliver to our partner agencies.


Colgan Farms Volunteers

Colgan Farms Volunteers

Colgan Farms

Food rescue in action

Food rescue in action

I could not be more pleased that both Mitchell Colgan of Colgan Farms in Windsor CT and Erica Pagliuco of the Coventry Farmers market have decided to work with us. We have been trying to reach out to large farmers and farmers markets for a while now with little success. Finally Erica responded with enthusiasm and is dedicated to the food rescue mission. Since we started working together we have had more fresh produce than ever before. Not only are we able to give it out in the food pantry and use it in meals at our soup kitchen but we were also able to offer items such as cucumbers and tomatoes for our soup kitchen guests to take home with them (we’ve never been able to do that) we not only want to promote healthy meals when they are on MACC premises but promote them making healthy choices at home and through these amazing donations, we are able to do that! We cannot say enough about these two generous individuals, Mitchell and Erica!

– Meaghan Sprague, MACC Charities, Community Plates Hartford

Location: Windsor, Connecticut

Local Site: Community Plates: Hartford

About: Colgan Farm cultivates heirloom produce-no chemicals, no GMOs, only fresh, healthy vegetables for the local community.

Connect: https://www.facebook.com/ColganFarm/

Picking fresh produce at Colgan Farms for our Hartford partners

Picking fresh produce at Colgan Farms for our Hartford partners

Kitchen Crawl Culinary Fundraiser in Connecticut

Community_Plates_Fundrasier_CT_2016_Kitchen_Crawl

WHAT

Chefs and restaurants are working to end hunger together in Connecticut, for an event to benefit Community Plates on Saturday, October 8, 2016 from 5:00 PM to 8:00 PM.

Chefs from Pearl, Rothbard, Nom-eez, The Spread, and Vespa will cook for you. Wine & Beer is  provided by Stew’s Wines, with media sponsor Moffly Publications.

To purchase tickets, visit the Kitchen Crawl on Eventbrite.com.

WHEN

Saturday, October 8, 2016 from 5:00 PM to 8:00 PM (EDT)

WHERE

Westport – Westport, CT

TICKETS

Food Insecurity in the News: Community Plates in Ohio, Celebrity Chefs Transform Wasted Olympic Food, The 6 Stages of Food Waste

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


Community Plates: Closing The Hunger Gap With an App via 614now.com

4X1A5791-10-e1471274086478Community Plates offers a streamlined solution to a complex problem: plenty of restaurants have extra food and ingredients at the end of the day, but no practical way to deliver them consistently to organizations that can put them to good use. Improvised and ad hoc solutions tend to fail or fall short over time—like a well-intentioned machine, just not a well-oiled one. Every microwave oven on the planet has a button for popcorn, yet we still lack the technology to redirect food destined for the dumpster to folks who are hungry.

Read the full story on 614now.com

 


Celebrity Chefs Turn Wasted Olympics Food Into Meals for Homeless via NYTimes.com

Consider what it takes to keep all those Olympian machines nourished and hydrated for one meal at the Rio Games: 250 tons of raw ingredients to fill the bellies of 18,000 athletes, coaches and officials in the Olympic Village.

Now multiply that figure by three — for breakfast, lunch and dinner — and again for each day of the Games.

On the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, the Italian chef Massimo Bottura also did the math and was inspired, not by the tantalizing dimensions of herculean consumption but by the prospect of colossal waste.

Read the full story on the NYTimes.com

 


From Field to Fork: The Six Stages of Wasting Food via The Guardian

watermelonEvery second, an amount of food equal to the weight of a sedan car is thrown away in the US – about 60m tons a year. It starts at the farm. The potato that grew to the size of a brick. The watermelon with the brown slasher marks on the rind. The cauliflower stained yellow in the sun. The peach that lost its blush before harvest. Any of those minor imperfections – none of which affect taste or quality or shelf life – can doom a crop right there. If the grower decides the supermarkets – or ultimately the consumer – will reject it, those fruits and vegetables never make it off the farm.

Read the full story on TheGuardian.com

 


Europe Does Something Amazing With Food That Has Nothing To Do With Eating via The Huffington Post

The Italian government passed sweeping legislation this week that aims to drastically reduce the amount of food wasted in the country. The new laws make it easier for farms and supermarkets to donate unsold food and reward businesses that cut waste. The measures also encourage Italians to take restaurant leftovers home in doggy bags (something Italians, apparently, are loath to do).

Read the full story on Huffington Post.


 

Meet the Team: Samantha Mauro

Hometown/Current City:

Bethel, CT/Stamford, CTSamantha Mauro

What is your role at Community Plates?

Social Media Coordinator

What’s on your desk?

Photos of my nephew and lots of sharpies.

What do you like to do in your free time?

I play volleyball, practice yoga and enjoy exploring new places.

How/when did you first become inspired around issues of American food insecurity?

When I was younger I hosted bake sales to raise money for a childhood hunger organization. The statistics hit close to home given my age at the time.

Who or what inspires you most?

Kid President – check out his videos on YouTube if you’re not familiar with him. He’s a great reminder on how simple and easy it is to be a decent human being and that we could all stand to laugh more.

If there is one thing you recommend we could do to end hunger in our communities, what would it be?

It starts with awareness. Just because we live in an affluent area doesn’t mean that everyone has a safety net for when the going gets tough. Join a group like Community Plates, participate in a food drive or volunteer at a local pantry or soup kitchen.

Update from our Cincinnati Partner, La Soupe

Busy busy busy! My mind is always blown away with the beauty of the food we rescue. We have many interesting things happening at La Soupe this summer! Here are just a few:

Runner Appreciation Party – August 28

We are having our first Stone Soupe volunteer food runner appreciation party on August 28th at La Soupe. We will be baptizing our new paella pan, which will feed 150-200 tapas portions! My hope is to take it into the food deserts, have a community chopping party, and show them how to cook!

Recycling Damaged Fruit

We are also negotiating with a local distiller to utilize the abundance of damaged fruits we receive and distill eau de vie…a fruit brandy that I grew up with in Alsace!

This Week’s Food Rescue

This last week La Soupe rescued 7900 ears of corn, 4 pallets of powerade, and 1000 pounds of food in 2 restaurants that were closed overnight for lack of rent payment!….in addition to our normal runs. Next week we have 10 days of rescue at the ATP as we attempt to make it a zero waste event.

 

Chef Suzy de Young

La Soupe, Cincinnati, Ohio
A Community Plates Partner Site

Food Insecurity in the News: Hacking Poverty with Mobile Tech, Sell-by Dates & Food Waste Link, 59 Organizations that Fight Hunger

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


Hacking poverty through mobile tech and social entrepreneurship via TechCrunch

The most successful distributed system to date is mobile technology. With 6.8 billion mobile subscriptions worldwide, more people on the planet have access to mobile phones than to toilets. Using this near ubiquity of mobile technology, poverty hackers are changing the economics of poverty through new strategies for investments, loans and credit. Already, mobile money in the global south is leapfrogging the global north’s centralized banking paradigm.

Social entrepreneurship is proving its worth throughout the developing world by applying established business principles and practices to poverty-related issues. Unlike top-down aid approaches, social entrepreneurship fosters and supports solutions created within communities of poor and marginalized people, making those solutions more likely to be adopted and sustained over time.


The ‘Sell By’ Dates On Our Groceries Are Causing Tons Of Food Waste via Climate Progress

shutterstock_220205905-1024x683The food labeling system in the United States is a complete mess. Foods can be labeled “healthy” regardless of how much sugar they contain. Foods can be labeled “Non-GMO” even when they don’t have genes, making the existence of a genetically-modified version impossible.

But beyond encouraging misinformation in our food system and potentially leading consumers to make ill-informed nutritional decisions, labels can also be terrible for the environment and food security.


Ask Well: Can You Eat Foods Past the ‘Sell By’ Date? via New York Times

Although the USDA food safety chart recommends that chicken, for example, only be kept in the fridge for two days, the “sell by” dates for chicken sold in refrigerators in stores is much longer than that. Why is there this discrepancy, and which is correct?


59 Organizations Fighting Food Loss and Waste via Food Tank

istock_47440964_mediumIt’s no secret that food loss and food waste are big problems. At least 1.3 billion tons of food is lost or wasted every year—in fields, during transport, in storage, at restaurants, and in markets in industrialized and developed countries alike. In rich countries alone, some 222 million tons of food is wasted, which is almost as much as the entire net food production of sub-Saharan Africa. And according to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), wasted food costs some US$680 billion in industrialized countries and US$310 billion in developing countries.

Meet the Team: Alison Sherman, Director of Communications

13416976_10209438220063256_4178256232763657843_o-3Hometown/Current City:

London,England/Weston, CT

What is your role at Community Plates?

Director of Communications

What’s on your desk?

My favorite quote, framed:

“I expect to pass through life but once. If therefore, there be any kindness I can show, or any good thing I can do to any fellow being, let me do it now, and not defer or neglect it, as I shall not pass this way again.” William Penn

What do you like to do in your free time?

I enjoy the active lifestyle: I cycle, hike, trail run, ski and practice yoga. I love to read, travel, cook (I used to be a pastry chef) and spend time with family and friends.

How/when did you first become inspired around issues of American food insecurity?

A few years ago I was looking for a volunteer opportunity that would allow me a hands on experience. Two different people in my life, who don’t know each other, were food runners for Community Plates and suggested I give it a try. One food run and I was hooked. Like most people, I was shocked at the level of food insecurity in the affluent community of Fairfield County, and a few months after running food, I applied for a job in the office, got it and the rest is history.

Who or what inspires you most?

I continue to be inspired daily, as I have been for the last four years, by my colleagues in the national office. There is no more committed group of individuals, dedicated to ending this senseless problem and making the world a better place. THAT’S inspiring.

If there is one thing you recommend we could do to end hunger our communities, what would it be?

Get involved, in whatever way works for you, but by all means get involved! I believe hunger can be eradicated in this country, as it was in 70’s, through grass roots, local action. We say that Community Plates is the simple solution to ending local hunger, one community at a time. We can all play a part in ending food insecurity in this country.