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

So 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


News Community Plates collects surplus food for pantries, other aid agencies, via The Columbus Dispatch

The Columbus Dispatch recently profiled our efforts in Columbus, Ohio, interviewing food runners and our site director for the city:

Once a week, Mike and Laurie Hawkins hop in their car and head out on a mission to rescue wayward pastries, loaves of bread, soup bones and meat.

“It’s a good use of our time,” Mrs. Hawkins said as she and her husband pushed a cart piled high with food around the North Market on Thursday. “And it gets the job done.”

The Clintonville couple are food runners for Community Plates, a nonprofit organization that uses an app and volunteer initiative to intercept surplus items that might otherwise add to the staggering amount of the nation’s food supply that goes uneaten.

Read the full article on The Columbus Dispatch.

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


Update from Columbus, Ohio: New Food Runs, New Food Donor & Save the Date

Hello Community Plates Columbus!

There is so much happening with Community Plates right now. First of all we finally have a run in Bexley, we will be picking up from Brueggers Bagels every Saturday and Sunday. We are also picking up daily from the Brueggers on Neil Avenue, this is a great run for anyone who lives near campus or works at OSU. Rosa & Roccos in New Albany is back to donating surplus from their awesome Sunday brunch.

unnamed (6)Please join me in welcoming Hoof Hearted Brewery as a donor. I know the name is funny but the food, the beer and the donations are great. I highly recommend the Sunday brunch!

Please mark your calendars for Community Plates Food For All 2016. This is our annual fundraiser which will be held at Gordon Biersch in the Arena District on Thursday April 21 5:30-8:30. You will all be receiving an official invitation soon.

Victory Ministries has moved to a new, much larger location in Whitehall. This is another great one for Bexley runners. Below is a picture of the Little Caesars Stygler run that goes to Victory Ministries every Wednesday. Don’t let the picture scare you. We usually pick up about 30 pizzas, but this one was 95!

– Susan Keiser Smith

Please Welcome Nick Carlisi, Community Plates NOLA Site Director

unnamedOriginally from Long Island, NY, Nick came to New Orleans to study the Jazz culture and embrace the Big Easy lifestyle. During his undergraduate career at Loyola University and realizing he had to pay the bills somehow, Nick started working in the food industry. There, he not only developed a passion for artisanal coffee but also saw firsthand the massive amount of food that goes to waste each day.

Nick said, “I was thrilled to discover an alternative to food waste and jumped at the chance to join the Community Plates family. I am excited to apply my creativity and passion to help those who are food insecure. New Orleans has given me so much, I am more than happy to give back.”

If he is not brainstorming unique ideas or trying new things, you can find Nick pursuing his other passions: playing gypsy jazz on guitar and coaching high school wrestling. He hopes to do everything the world can offer him and travel to as many places as possible. In the meantime, he enjoys unicycling, roasting his own coffee, and admiring the qualities of his favorite animal: a sloth.

Getting to Know: Community Plates in Albuquerque, New Mexico


Facts & Figures

Why do you rescue food for Community Plates?

IMG_4967Before I even saw it on the website, when I heard about Community Plates I joined because it just makes sense! I cringe when I contribute to food waste on a personal level, so to think by becoming a food runner I could have an impact on a macro level was amazing. Especially as a student this is the PERFECT volunteer opportunity because you don’t always know what your week is going to look like but you do often have pockets of free time during the day. Also it is an incredible way to be more intimately connected to your community.
– Julie Gallagher, New Orleans


Meet Kristin Fleming, Community Plates Albuquerque Site Director


I rescue food because nearly half of our working families are low income and cost-burdened. Getting food to families in need is one less (of so many) things for them to worry about, and allows them to begin to shift the focus from simply surviving to thriving.

What do you like to do in your free time?

I like to roam the bosque, ride bikes with friends, and experiment with clay plasters.

What is the biggest challenge in your community?

Sadly, New Mexico ranks highest in child hunger, and current policies are making it harder to get healthy food to hungry kids. There is so much need here, but so much abundance, too. It’s connecting the dots and building community that makes the difference.

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

I went to school in Pittsburgh, and it was there that I really noticed some extreme disparities in neighborhood food access. Pittsburgh is also unique in that while it’s quite dense, it’s hilly and divided by rivers creating some interesting geographic barriers to folks without access to transportation. More affluent neighborhoods are brimming with restaurants and groceries, while others are lucky to have a corner store where the only option is processed food. Without a car, or the time to take multiple buses, or the ability to walk up and down the hills to get there, shopping for fresh foods is literally impossible for some people. And that doesn’t even account for the cost of food, which is prohibitive for so many regardless of geography.

If there is one thing we should do to help eradicate food insecurity in our communities, what would it be, and how can we get involved?

Get involved with Community Plates, of course! We’ve made it so easy to plug right in and get to the meaningful work, taking food that would otherwise be wasted to folks that are hungry. It’s a great place to start to reconnect with our relationship to food and community. And from there, who knows? Hopefully wasting less, growing more, and always sharing the abundance.

Read the full profile