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.

Meet the Team: Christina Knudsen, Director of Development


Hometown/Current City:

Darien, CT/Pittsburgh, PA

What is your role at Community Plates?

Director of Development

What’s on your desk?

Several empty coffee cups and about 1,000 post-it notes.

What do you like to do in your free time?

I love to cook and make a mess in the kitchen, and spend time with my husband, daughter, and very spoiled dog. I’m kind of a book nerd and read as much as my 10-month old daughter allows me to.

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

Hunger and food insecurity have always been issues that “bothered” me from a young age. I could never reconcile that so many people struggle just to find food with the wealth and overall food resources in this country. Food insecurity just doesn’t make sense in America today.

Who or what inspires you most?

Hermione Granger. Just kidding (sort of). That is a really hard question! I’m inspired by so many things- places I’ve traveled, music, books, friends, my parents, my husband and our faith – it would be tough to pick just one.

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

People tend to think about hunger at certain times of the year, like Thanksgiving and Christmas. But hunger is an every day problem. I’d recommend finding opportunities in your community to get engaged on an ongoing basis, whether as a volunteer, an advocate, or a donor – for example, at Community Plates, you can volunteer as a food runner whenever it fits your schedule. By just driving your car, hungry people will have access to healthy, fresh food!

An Update from Community Plates New Haven


Welcome New Food Donors

A great big welcome and THANK YOU to our newest New Haven food donors:

G Cafe Bakery, Ninth Square

Katalina’s Bakery

Upcoming Events

City Line Distributors Food Rescue: Tuesday- 10:30 am and 11:30 am Big food rescue from City Line Distributors West Haven!
18 pallets of food to be sent out to many partners. We need 16 food runners to meet and deliver food. Please register for the run, which is divided into two shifts, on the schedule.

New Food Runner Orientation: Thursday- 11:00 am United House of Prayer 500 Dixwell Ave. New Haven. Lots of free parking! We are creating a New Haven food rescue team to increase our impact in the New Haven area. This is an orientation for new folks, and an opportunity for food runners to meet. We will share rescue stories and tips. If you are interested in getting more involved- one possibility is to join our team for outreach, social media or events. Come to our meet and greet (and eat)!

If you live in Connecticut, please follow Community Plates New Haven on Facebook for the latest news and events from the New Haven area.

If you have any questions, or are interested in becoming a New Haven volunteer or donor, contact us.

Claneil Foundation Awards Emerging Leaders Fund Grant to Community Plates Executive Director Kevin Mullins


Kevin Mullins, Community Plates Executive Director since 2011

We are thrilled to announce that the Claneil Foundation, a private family foundation based in Philadelphia, recently selected Executive Director Kevin Mullins and Community Plates as recipients of the Emerging Leaders Fund grant. Kevin was selected from a competitive pool of 75 nominations representing emerging organizations in the Mid Atlantic/New England Region. We will receive $200,000 in general operating funds over four years, and as the organization’s leader, Kevin will have access to up to $10,000 for professional development.

Kevin said, “This grant is important validation of all the energy so many have invested in establishing a new type of solution to American food insecurity. In addition, it is a real affirmation of our vision to end hunger in the United States through direct transfer food rescue. We are honored to be recognized alongside previous innovative leaders and organizations as well as our three other co-grantees this year.”

Recipients are selected based on their creative vision, leadership capacity, potential for impact, and commitment to innovation and learning in one or more of the Foundation’s interest areas. This grant program is focused primarily on early stage organizations located in the New England and Mid-Atlantic states.

Food Insecurity in the News: Starbucks Donates Unsold Food, College Students & Food Pantries, New Nutrition Labels

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

Starbucks Finally Starts To Donate All of Its Unsold Food via Forbes

960x0So Starbucks recently announced that they will be donating 100 percent of their unsold food to charity. They currently are testing out a program in San Diego. When Starbucks announced their intentions, the company stated that they expect to donate five million meals to individuals and families this year and plan to eventually – over the next five years – be doing this at all of its 7,600 locations in the United States. By 2021, they say, they’ll have given away 50 million free meals.

What You Need to Know About Sugar and Nutrition Labels via National Geographic

The outgoing Obama Administration signals its nutrition priorities by making it easier for consumers to watch their sugar intake.

Stamford college students benefit from campus pantry via Stamford Advocate

1024x1024Colleges and universities from Purdue to South Florida to Penn State now offer pantries where students who might otherwise go hungry can stock up on healthy food. The College and University Food Bank Alliance, a national coalition, represents 207 schools with pantries. Four of them are in Connecticut, with Norwalk the only one in the southwestern corner of the state.

Open five days a week, the NCC pantry is being discovered by a growing number of students who can visit twice a month to stock up on groceries and daily for a grab-and-go snack of fruit or a granola bar.

These entrepreneurs are using technology to turn a profit on food waste via Vox

food-waste.0Food waste is bad for our wallets. It’s also bad for the environment — the equivalent of throwing away the water, energy, and other resources that go into growing it in the first place. But as interest in reducing food waste grows, so does innovation to make it happen. Take a look at what some creative businesses are doing to turn trash into treasure.

Community Plates Columbus Party to Benefit Community Plates at Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant on April 21


On April 21 from 5:30pm-8:30pm, Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant (401 N. Front Street), will host a Keg Tapping Party to benefit Community Plates. There is no charge for admission, but please register for the event. 10% of all proceeds will go to Community Plates Columbus and of course we will be accepting donations, so bring your friends and family!

Reserve Tickets

There will be live music by the band Stone Soup, passed appetizers and a ceremonial keg tapping at 6:30 pm. The featured seasonal beer is the strong, German lager Maibock, traditionally considered an annual rite of spring. Gordon Biersch partners with non-profits for their tapping parties because they believe it is important to give back to the community and we couldn’t be more grateful to be their partner this time around!

We have some amazing gift baskets for auction, including pizza for a year from Donato’s, a North Market basket with packages from Hot Chicken Takeover, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams, Shadow Box Live table for eight, a private craft cocktail class for ten at Curio, and much more. Many local restaurants and bakeries have donated $50-$100 gift cards and Community Plates will have t-shirts for sale, along with a 50/50 raffle.

This will be a great opportunity to meet fellow food runners, especially some of the 160 new runners who signed up this month! I hope too see all of you there.

Getting to Know: Community Plates in Hartford, CT

Facts & Figures

  • Year Founded: 2015

  • Meals Rescued: 97,200

  • Food Runners 67

  • Food Donors: 25

Meet MACC Charities, Our Community Plates Partner in Hartford, CT


Meaghan Sprague, MACC Charities at Unity Farm Machester

Since we signed on with Community Plates in October, the food rescue program has done wonders for the MACC Charities Food Pantry and Soup Kitchen. Our goal when we started was to offer our clients healthier wholesome options, and in just a few short months we were able to accomplish that goal. Our pantry shelves are full of fresh produce, bread, baked items, small milks, and yogurts.

Not only has our “Food Rescue” program improved the quality of food that we are able to offer our clients but it also has saved MACC a lot of money. Because of our daily donations of different meats and proteins our organization has not had to order meat since November. On several occasions we have not had to order milk for the week because one of our community partners donates half gallons of milk.

This program is quick, easy, and makes a huge difference in the lives of the people we serve!

– Meaghan Sprague, Community Engagement Manager, MACC Charities

About MACC Charities

Part of the core mission at MACC Charities is to feed those who are hungry and provide healthy food to those facing food insecurity. They do this through “Kitchen On Main” lunch program, Community Pantry, mobile & satellite pantries, and outreach to local elementary school children, families and the homeless in our community.

“Food Rescue” is the process by which MACC is able to do much of their work. Leveraging technology that allows 24/7 communication, volunteers transport excess, usable food from local restaurants, retailers and farmers to MACC on a daily basis. The food that we “rescue” gets distributed in our pantries, Grab n Go program, and used creatively in our kitchen.



Meet A Few Hartford Area Food Donors

Shady Glen, Manchester, CT (our newest food donor, welcome!

Unity Farm, Manchester, CT

Whole Foods in Glastonbury, CT 

Villa Louisa in Bolton, CT 

Big Fish Pro 

Shop Rite Manchester