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Posts Tagged ‘hunger’

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Photo: Jim Davis/Globe Staff
Marc Wallerce (left), owner of the Winthrop Marketplace, greets Jeffrey Carson of Mi-Amore as Carson picks up food for distribution to families that need it.

Wow, there are as many ways to get food to people who might otherwise go hungry as there are people who want to end hunger. It was only a couple weeks ago that I posted about a food initiative in Toronto. Here’s one in Massachusetts.

Alison Arnett writes at the Boston Globe, “In 2014, Jeffrey Carson heard an NPR piece about how much food was wasted in America despite ongoing hunger. It hit a nerve with Carson, who himself had grown up in a family dependent on food stamps and had just had his first child, and he determined that he wanted to do something about it. ‘I wanted my daughter to come up in volunteerism that was part of our life,’ he added, not just something ‘we volunteered for once a year.’

“So Carson and his wife, Suzanne, both veterans, began to work on creating a nonprofit in Winthrop where they live. The idea for Mi-Amore seemed ‘so simple,’ says Carson: Food was going to waste — in the United States it is estimated that as much as 30 percent to 40 percent of edible food is wasted each year — and yet there were people who went hungry. As military officers, both he and his wife were used to finding solutions to problems, Carson says.

“There were many snags along the way, but today Mi-Amore provides food for 40 elderly people, single-parent families, and recovering addicts in Winthrop. Unusual among food relief programs where recipients must go to a central soup kitchen or food aid office open only restricted hours, Mi-Amore’s eight volunteers, all Winthrop residents, pick up the donated food three times a week and deliver it to the homes of the recipients. Most families get at least one delivery of food a week. The program has a board of town residents, and donations of surplus food from the Winthrop Marketplace, several restaurants, assisted-living centers, and schools. …

“Half of the recipients are children. When asked about recovering addicts, Carson says that ‘recovering’ can be a loose term but is quick to recount what one board member, a school nurse, told him. ‘Having food in your refrigerator sometimes is the line between recovering or not,’ she said, adding that the stress of no food can push some over the edge.

“The beginnings of Mi-Amore, in its third year, weren’t smooth, Carson says. After he and his wife did the structural work to set up a nonprofit, he contacted restaurants and other businesses about donating food that might go to waste, surprised when he got refusals or no answers. But then, Carson said, he met two women, Amie Hanrahan of The Arbors Assisted Living Communities and Ann Vasquez of La Siena restaurant, who immediately ‘got it,’ Carson says. … From that beginning, the program started to gain momentum.”

I’m not really surprised that two former military officers have shown perseverance when faced with the challenges of launching something new. As Massachusetts Congressman Seth Moulton, a former Marine, has often said in the context of what sorts of people he’d like to see run for office, veterans are generally people who are motivated by public service more than personal gain.

Jeffrey and Suzanne Carson strike me as perfect examples of veterans motivated by public service.

More at the Boston Globe, here.

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3024

Photo: The Guardian
North America’s first pay-what-you-can grocer is located in Toronto and aims to keep overstocked but perfectly good food from going to a landfill.

I love stories about efforts to get surplus fresh food into the hands of people who might be going hungry otherwise. And keeping food out of landfills at the same time means killing two birds with one stone. But true confession: I am wasteful. I use the yummy inner parts of celery and lettuce first, and when I get around to the outer parts, they don’t look worth saving. Do I put on my thinking cap and make these leftovers into soup or something? I do not. Sometimes I compost them. I’d be interested in your ideas.

In Canada, a grocery store may have the best solution yet for food that is still good to eat but overstocked.

As Ashifa Kassam writes at the Guardian, “In a bright, airy Toronto market, the shelves are laden with everything from organic produce to pre-made meals and pet food. What shoppers won’t find, however, is price tags. In what is believed to be a North American first, everything in this grocery store is pay-what-you-can.

“The new store aims to tackle food insecurity and wastage by pitting the two issues against each other, said Jagger Gordon, the Toronto chef who launched the venture earlier this month.

“Every provision is donated by a network of partners across the region, and many of them – from blemished or misshapen produce to staples that are nearing their expiry date – would have otherwise ended up in landfills. …

“The store, which also includes a pay-what-you-can bakery and cafe, is the latest initiative to emerge from his non-profit firm, Feed It Forward. The roots of the organisation trace back to 2014, borne out of Gordon’s frustration at the C$31bn (£17.6bn) worth of food that ends up in Canadian landfills and compost sites each year while one in eight Toronto households struggles to put food on the table. …

“Prices are entirely up to the customer. ‘If you can afford to pay more, go right ahead,’ said Gordon. ‘If you can’t pay for what you have, then don’t.

“ ‘What I have noticed is people look into the baskets, try to calculate what it is and then say, “is this acceptable?” And I just say, “are you kidding me? Whatever you can give is fine, but if you are unable to make a donation, we won’t let anyone go hungry.” ‘ …

“Any profits are poured back into the store, covering costs such as rent and the transport of provisions. More than 600 volunteers help to staff the store and Gordon supplements its income with fundraising events, donations and revenue from his catering business. …

“As the store nears its closing time, Gordon surveys its largely empty shelves. ‘I’m a little disappointed that I have food left. … We’re going to the streets and hand it all out. We won’t stop until our food is gone.’ …

“Many have welcomed the initiative, but others question the sustainability of its business model. Gordon is quick to brush aside such concerns, pointing to pay-what-you-can initiatives that have been successful in Europe and noting that his soup bar managed to pay for itself.”

More at the Guardian, here.

 

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Photo: Alan Greenblatt/NPR
Growing up, Liam Foley (left) was in charge of dishes and never cooked. He was still able to help chop the onions, though, at a burrito-making project for the poor in San Francisco.

Here’s another great story about ordinary people stepping up to try to make a dent in some of life’s knottier problems. This initiative is about making a dent in hunger and getting to know a few people experiencing homelessness.

Alan Greenblatt writes at National Public Radio, “Jimmy Ryan’s recipe for burritos is really pretty simple. It calls for 50 pounds of rice, 50 pounds of beans, a couple of cases of canned tomatoes and several hundred tortillas.

“That may sound like a lot, but Ryan is one of the organizers of the Burrito Project in San Francisco, an informal charity that makes and distributes about 500 burritos to the homeless once a month. On May 21, the group celebrated its second anniversary and rolled its 10,000th burrito. …

“The desire to distribute healthy, easily portable burritos is catching on. … A couple of the entities have registered as 501(c)3 charities, but others remain completely informal. Anyone is allowed to use the name as long as they’re providing burritos and not making any money off the service.

” ‘From what I understand, we have one of the only burrito projects that runs four days a week,’ says Rai Doty, a coordinator in Salt Lake City. ‘Four days a week, we feed 200 to 500 people a night.’

“The groups rely on a mix of donated food and sponsorships. In San Francisco, different companies pay the bills each month, helping out with both funding and manpower. …

“The crowd [I saw] was mostly young and white, but several other racial and ethnic groups were represented, with at least one grandmother helping out. For some, this effort represents just one stop along their personal charity journeys, which also include efforts such as working at animal shelters or churches. But for others, this was a quick and painless way to give back. …

“The organizers say they’re trying to make the event fun and welcoming, asking everyone to introduce themselves and providing kombucha and cake to celebrate their anniversary. …

“The soup kitchen that allows the Burrito Project to use its kitchen is located on the edge of the Mission District, which is ground zero for gentrification pressures in San Francisco. …

“The Burrito Project encourages volunteers not just to hand out food, but to stop and interact with individuals who are often neglected or avoided. …

“No one is under the illusion that handing out an occasional burrito is going to solve anyone’s problems.

“Some Burrito Project outposts try to do more than occasionally feed people. During the snowy season in Salt Lake City, the group partners with Warm the Homeless, which distributes blankets, coats and hats. The long-running project in Bakersfield, Calif., has been adopted by high school and church groups who hand out clothes and shoes when there are donations. Their ninth anniversary event on July 8 will provide a forum for representatives from other local groups that provide housing, health and legal assistance.”

More at NPR, here.

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Several civic-minded design and construction businesses have once again entered the Rhode Island Community Food Bank‘s annual Canstruction contest. The display at the Providence Place mall combines fun with a message about hunger in the state and the need for canned goods.

LLB Architects of Pawtucket and Shawmut Design and Construction of Providence are the geniuses behind the display featuring the Left Shark, an Internet celebrity since one of singer Katy Perry’s backup dancers at the 2015 Super Bowl went rogue.

I remember seeing another Canstruction event last year, at the Boston Society of Architects. It’s easy to see why this sort of work needs to be done by designers and builders: it’s really hard to make cans look like anything but cans. The BSA cans were donated to the Merrimack Valley Food Bank in Lowell.

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A Framingham, Mass., couple who run a restaurant have decided to do their bit to combat hunger in their town.

Bella English has the story at the Boston Globe. “The Foodie Cafe is a 24-seater in a factory-and-warehouse section of Framingham. Workers stop in for coffee and eggs or for a lunch of homemade soups and breads, artisan sandwiches, and cupcakes with killer icing.

“But David and Alicia Blais, who own and run it, feed more than just their paying customers. They also aim to feed all of the city’s hungry. A chalkboard in the cafe proclaims: ‘Thanks to you (our wonderful customers), we have fed over 890 people in need this November. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!’

“About three years ago, the couple opened the Foodie Cafe — they loved its huge kitchen — after selling a Walpole restaurant they had run for several years. …

” ‘There was no sense of food insecurity in Walpole on the scale found in Framingham,’’ says Alicia, 55. “All you have to do is drive around, and you can see the need. …’

“Devout Christians, the couple went to hear a pastor speak about his street ministry and when he mentioned that he always runs out of sandwiches for the hungry, they decided to help. …

“ ‘They’ve been tremendous to us,’ says Jim Bauchman, founder of Framingham Street Ministries. “I can’t thank them enough. I see it as a partnership.” …

“For them, feeding the hungry is a matter of philosophy and faith. ‘I feel that people should have the necessities of life,’ says Alicia. ‘People should be sheltered. People should have food. We have a restaurant. We make food. It’s not rocket science.’ ”

More here.

Photo: Suzanne Kreiter/Globe staff
Inside Alicia Blais assembles sandwiches.

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With increasing numbers of Americans experiencing food insecurity, it seems like an appropriate time of year to be grateful that at least there are many goodhearted people managing food banks and community meals and doing what they can.

If you know of anyone in New England who could use the help just now, or if you want to volunteer or donate, this partial list may be a good starting place.

Rhode Island

http://www.rifoodbank.org
“The Rhode Island Community Food Bank works to end hunger in our state by providing food to people in need. We envision a day when all Rhode Islanders have access to nutritious food and a healthy lifestyle.

Massachusetts

East
http://Gbfb.org
“The Greater Boston Food Bank’s mission is to End Hunger Here. Our objective is to distribute enough food to provide at least one meal a day to those in need.”

West
https://www.foodbankwma.org/
“We are fortunate to live in such a special part of the country, allowing for the growth and harvest of a multitude of fresh fruits and vegetables. As this harvest season comes to an end, we have received more than 266,800 pounds of fresh produce — including potatoes, lettuce, carrots, apples and squash — donated by local farms this year.”

Vermont

http://www.vtfoodbank.org/FindFoodShelf.aspx
“If you are looking for a place to have a Thanksgiving meal or to volunteer to help cook, serve or clean-up, download our list of Thanksgiving meals.”

New Hampshire

http://www.nhfoodbank.org/
“Need Food? We Can Help. If you are in need of assistance, use our search to locate the nearest food pantry or soup kitchen to you. Search by your town or county, or view all of our partner agencies.”

Maine

http://www.foodpantries.org/st/maine
“There are several food pantries and food banks in the Maine. With help from users like you we have compiled a list of some. If you know of a listing that is not included here please submit new food pantries to our database.”

Connecticut

http://www.ctfoodbank.org/
“The mission of Connecticut Food Bank is to provide nutritious food to people in need. We distribute food and other resources to nearly 700 local emergency food assistance programs in six of Connecticut’s eight counties: Fairfield, Litchfield, Middlesex, New Haven, New London and Windham.”

harvest

 

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Back in November, Jamie Smith Hopkins wrote for the Baltimore Sun about a group called Gather Baltimore, which “collects donations of food from farmers markets and schools and delivers them to organizations in the city for distribution to those in need.”

Hopkins says, “Gather Baltimore, the fledging group that organized the rapid harvest, does this work every week — collecting food that would otherwise go to waste and distributing it in city neighborhoods.”

“Arthur Gray Morgan, a teacher and urban farmer who founded Gather Baltimore, is a newly minted fellow with the Open Society Institute-Baltimore. His fellowship mission for the next 18 months: expand Gather Baltimore and make it sustainable. …”Morgan, who tends the Hamilton Crop Circle gardens in Northeast Baltimore, has collected and distributed free food for several years — ever since he saw how much went to waste at farmers’ markets. What couldn’t be sold wasn’t necessarily taken back to the farm. Frequently, it was tossed out.

“That bothered Morgan, who hears a frequent refrain from his students at Hamilton Elementary/Middle: ‘I’m hungry, I’m hungry.’ …

“Now he and his army of volunteers have the work down to a science — harvesting, picking up donations from local stores and stopping off at the downtown farmers’ market to cart off anything farmers want to contribute after the customers leave.”

You can help Gather Baltimore by voting for it at reddit, here.

Photograph of Arthur Gray Morgan: Baltimore Sun

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