Meet the Team: Nicole Straight, Fairfield County Site Director

 

Hometown/Current City:
Los Gatos, CA/ Westport, CT

What is your role at Community Plates?
Fairfield County Site Director.

What’s on your desk?
I don’t use a desk, I do everything on mobile so I can work anywhere.  I’m sitting on the couch at the moment!

What do you like to do in your free time?
I’m an avid poker player and have been playing for the past 10 years. I love to listen to Neil deGrasse Tyson’s Star Talk podcasts among many others. I’m also a self proclaimed music nerd and dream of dj’ing, but I get too tired after 10:00 pm…

How/when did you first become inspired around issues of American food insecurity?
I’ve worked in the food industry for the past 15 years, and have always been shocked at how much food gets thrown away while prepping.  It’s always been a source of frustration that chefs didn’t creatively repurpose the scraps, it would feed so many hungry people.

Who or what inspires you most?
I have been practicing Buddhism for the past 13 years, and am always inspired by the wisdom and gentleness of Sharon Salzberg and Pema Chodron.

If there is one thing you recommend we could do to end hunger our communities, what would it be?
Slow down.  We are all so consumed with our own “busyness” that we forget to slow down and notice people.  You’d be surprised how taking just a little time to give a little service can help so many people.  It also feels really good.  We don’t have to do these big global things to help,  choosing to take one small action of giving service, really does make a very big difference.

A Q&A with Fairfield County’s New Director, Kate Albrecht

We are excited to welcome Kate Albrecht as the new Fairfield County Site Director for Community Plates. Kate grew up in Washington, D.C. and spent many years there working in politics and as a lawyer. When her family was relocated overseas and she was unable to practice law, she decided to pursue her life-long passion for cooking. She enrolled in culinary school and spent a year immersed in the art and science of food. With a chef’s diploma in hand, she started a small catering company in central London delivering healthy lunches to desk-bound office workers. However, the States ultimately called them home, and Kate’s family relocated to Fairfield County.

“While I was just learning my way around, I started volunteering for Community Plates. I completely fell in love with the Community Plates approach to linking food rescue with hunger, leveraging technology, and involving people from across the County to get it all done,” explained Kate.


 

What 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.

IMG_20151124_092111674_TOP (1)

Kate, during a Thanksgiving weekend food run in Fairfield County.

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.

Who or what inspires you most?

I have a lovely aunt-in-law who is full of wisdom and energy. She said to me once that “There is so much that needs to be done. People need to stop talking so much and just do something.” When I find myself complaining, I think of her and I ask myself “What am I doing about it?” THIS motivates me.

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.

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

I really want people to focus on the quality of the food that they donate. Most food drives focus on foods with a long shelf life, like pasta and canned soup. But really we should be focusing on the kinds of foods that people want and need, not just the foods that are easy to store. One reason I love Community Plates is that we are rescuing fresh nutritious foods like produce and dairy and getting them directly to where they they are needed. People can obviously help by rescuing food with us, but they can also encourage their local market to donate their surplus, or run a fresh food drive.

Community Plates Receives Grant from Near and Far Aid

$5000 Award Will Help Food Rescue Organization End Hunger in Fairfield County

Community Plates of Norwalk, CT has received an operational grant of $5,000 from Near & Far Aid. “We are so grateful to Near & Far Aid for funding innovation in the fight against hunger. This $5,000 grant allows us to rescue and deliver 100,000 meals to people in need in Fairfield County” said Tom Hauser, Fairfield County Site Director for Community Plates.

Community Plates is committed to ending American Food Insecurity by directly transferring fresh, usable food that would have otherwise been thrown away from restaurants, markets and other food industry sources, to food insecure families.

Near & Far Aid is dedicated to eliminating the causes and effects of poverty in Fairfield County by finding and funding programs that provide life’s most basic necessities, as well as those that seek to achieve lasting change.

Kevin Mullins, Executive Director of Community Plates is excited about the shared mission between Community Plates and Near & Far Aid saying,

“This is a perfect partnership since Near & Far Aid funds programs focused on eliminating poverty in Fairfield County and we are focused on delivering almost 3,000,000 meals to food insecure people in Fairfield County this year. When people don’t have to scramble for food they are freed up to worry about other things on their hierarchy of needs.”

Community Plates Receives Operational Grant from First County Bank Foundation

For the second year in a row, Community Plates of Norwalk, CT has received a $5,000 operational grant from First County Bank Foundation.

Community Plates is committed to ending American Food Insecurity by directly transferring fresh, usable food that would have otherwise been thrown away from restaurants, markets and other food industry sources, to food insecure families.

Tom Hauser, Fairfield County Site Director for Community Plates, said:

“We are so grateful to First County Bank for funding innovation in the fight against hunger.  The $5,000 grant allows us to rescue and deliver 100,000 meals to people in need in Fairfield County.”

Kevin Mullins, Executive Director of Community Plates, said:

“This is two years in a row we’ve received support from First County Bank Foundation, they are committed to giving back to their community and they have helped us continue to lead the food rescue movement.”