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Meet Krissy and Fiona!

We’re overdue for an introductory post about Krissy Scommegna and Fiona Crimmins! Krissy’s been part-time with us for a year, and Fiona, a former volunteer, just joined us as a fulltime staff member in August. They’re fabulous people, so please enjoy e-meeting both of them:

Fiona: Krissy, how did you first get involved with anti-hunger work?

Krissy Scommegna, ladies and gents!

Krissy Scommegna, ladies and gents!

Krissy: I would say that it all started at a summer camp I went to. There was a mission program for hunger relief, and that’s when I became aware of hunger issues. That was in elementary school. But as an adult it all started this past year in graduate school [at the Tufts Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy].

Last fall I took a course about food justice and got hooked up with Ross at Food For Free. I spent the semester helping him and a group of students implement a system to provide students with emergency meals. I realized I really liked what I was doing so I asked Ross about an internship at Food For Free and they said “we’ll hire you!” So I’ve been working on Family Meals since last September, then Home Delivery since since last May.

Fiona: Can you describe your role here at FFF?

Krissy making Family MealsKrissy: I am the Home Delivery Coordinator and I have been working as the Kitchen Manager and Program Assistant for the Family Meals program.

Fiona: What excites you about the Home Delivery Program?

Krissy: We’re looking at people who can’t access food pantries and providing them an option for food that’s great. Like fresh produce from farms, and good food from Amazon. Generally just putting better food in their diet than they would have had otherwise. People come on the program and stay for 10 years, so it shows that people really rely on the program and make it a part of their lives. We’ve been expanding the program and it’s been really great this past month to contact people and tell them they’re off the waiting list.

Fiona: How do you spend your time when you’re not at FFF?

Krissy: I’m a grad student at the Friedman School of Nutritional Science and Policy at Tufts. And I recently took over as the Director of the Somerville Backpack Program.

Otherwise I spend a lot of time cooking and having dinner with friends at my house. Cooking is a really big part of my life, and being able to cook and feed people is what I really enjoy doing.


Krissy: So Fiona, how did you originally get connected with Food For Free?

Fiona Crimmins, Program Manager extraordinaire!

Fiona Crimmins, Program Manager extraordinaire!

Fiona: I saw an ad on asking for volunteer help for last year’s Party Under the Harvest Moon. I knew of Food For Free because I had volunteered with local food pantries and was looking to do more work like that in the hunger relief world.

Krissy: And what is your new role here at Food For Free?

Fiona: I’m the Program Manager for the Family Meals Program. I’m taking over the program and trying to grow it.

Krissy: What did you do before this?

Fiona: I was a high school and middle school Latin teacher for 6 years in Belmont. Before that, I was an editor for different health and wellness publications.

Krissy: What is exciting about this change from being a teacher to working at Food For Free?

Fiona: I get to do work every day that helps people live their lives better and have access to healthy food!


Fiona at our Flatbread benefit night!

Krissy: What are you most looking forward to about working on the Family Meals Program?

Fiona: I’m looking forward to taking this program that is in its infancy and exploring all the places it can go. I also want to figure out how to maximize its reach to help the most people possible.

Krissy: Just so we can get to know you a little better, what is your favorite food?

Fiona: I can’t say a favorite food, but my favorite cuisine is Indian.

Krissy: And what’s your favorite thing to do for free?

Fiona: Go running!

Krissy: Any other interesting things you want to tell about yourself?

Fiona: I had a pet goat as a child named Abby and I brought her to show and tell in nursery school.

[break for a long discussion about the wonders of pet goats]

Krissy: Welcome to the team, Fiona! We are happy to have you here!

Fiona with a team of volunteers at Empty Bowls, helping demonstrate how much food goes to waste in the U.S.

Krissy (far L) & Fiona (far R) at Empty Bowls, helping us show how much food goes to waste in the U.S. by symbolically throwing away 4 out of 10 soup pots. (Don’t worry—the pots were empty!)


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Market in the Park: on happiness and vegetables

Veronica from Food For Free here—I recently visited our summer pilot of a new program: Market in the Park, a free farmers’ market offered in Danehy Park on Thursdays from 11:30-12:30. Here’s what I found:

What’s most striking to me about the whole experience is the sound of happiness: I hear splashing in the splash park. I hear laughing on the playground. And then there are vegetables:

“Hey Annabelle, guess what I got? Purple kale!

“Can she eat anything yet?” Food For Free intern Ashia Aubourg is chatting with a woman carrying her baby. The woman replies, “Zucchini, blended. She loves it!”

“Tomato!” says a toddler in a bucket hat, holding up toddler-sized tomatoes, one in each hand. “Oh, you got the tomatoes!” replies his mom. “Okay, put them in the bag!”

“So nice and fresh! Thank you, see you next week!”

The sound of happiness is coming from adults and children as diverse as Cambridge itself. In fact, I can’t understand all of the words that are spoken—even though I’m well aware of the diversity of Our Fair City, I’m surprised by how many languages I hear at the Market in the Park.

Market in the Park: an opportunity to share the bounty

We have a lot of produce to go around during the summer—after all, for the many local farms who donate to Food For Free, it’s the height of the growing season. But food insecure kids are not in school, making it harder to reach them and their families. Market in the Park is, as Alanna says, “an opportunity to share the bounty.”

Just like our school “markets,” Market in the Park is available to anyone who wishes to use it—which means no forms to fill out, and most importantly, no stigma. Some people take a little, some people take a lot. Some say things like, “I don’t need anything, but I’m glad this is here.” Others fill up a whole bag and come back each week.

We chose our pilot location at Danehy Park knowing that many low-income families will already be there: “Each summer, Cambridge participates in a summer food safety net which distribute summer lunches for children who would normally access the school cafeteria,” Alanna explains. “Those lunches address the children’s needs, but not the family’s needs.”

Teamwork makes the dream work

Jen Costa with kids blurred and croppedThe beauty of Thursdays at Danehy Park is that there’s a lot going on, and Market in the Park is just one part of it. The free meals for kids are a big draw for low-income families, but the array of activities has made this The Place To Be for families of all income levels and demographics:

There’s a kids’ craft project facilitated by young employees from the Mayor’s Summer Youth Employment Program.

There’s a story hour, during which CPL Youth Services Librarian Jennifer Costa had the kids rapt with excitement and attention.

And then there’s the biggest draw of all: the Book Bike, which caused such a cheer that you’d think that everyone’s favorite pop star had just rolled into the park. Kids get to pick out a book to keep—no wonder they cheered so loudly!

Book Bike with kids

Access to food, books, and outdoor play

As I biked back to the office, I realized how happy I felt that our new pilot program isn’t a standalone—instead, it’s part of a collaboration, addressing the needs of kids and families on multiple levels.

I’m well aware that kids are healthier, happier, and do better in school when they can rely on having enough to eat, without question, every day of the year. But research also shows that kids do better when they have plenty of books at home and opportunities to play outside. As Book Bike founder Liz Phipps Soeiro said to me, “When you look at children’s health holistically, you have to feed the mind and feed the body to have a healthy child.”

When people are getting their needs met—nourishment for both body and mind—you hear what I heard as I wheeled out of the park:  the sound of happiness, loud and clear.

Here we are, making the faces of happiness! I’m the one in the blue shirt. Everyone else, from L to R: Cambridge Book Bike founder Liz Phipps Soeiro, CPL Youth Services Librarian Jennifer Costa, Food For Free Program Director Alanna Mallon, and Food For Free intern Ashia Aubourg

Check out the rest of our Summer Newsletter!

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What we’re up to: Summer 2016 edition

  • New truck on its way!
    • Starting in August, we’ll be able to move more food in fewer trips—we’ll be replacing our current Little Truck with a new refrigerated truck that boasts a higher cargo capacity. Good news for our food rescue partners, and for the environment, too!
  • New grants: Speaking of generous granters, we are honored to have been selected for grants from two more amazing foundations!
  • New food donors:
    • amazonfresh and harvard business school logosAmazonFresh recently launched in Boston, and has been donating surplus food to Food For Free since Day One. Welcome, AmazonFresh!AmazonFresh recently launched in Boston, and Food For Free has been partnering with the Greater Boston Food Bank to rescue their surplus food since Day One. Welcome, AmazonFresh!
    • Harvard Business School is now donating sandwiches, sushi, and baked goods every week. Glad to have you on board, HBS!
  • New food programs & partnerships:
    • Ashia with pantry shelvesWe’ve been supporting the Falcons’ Food Project’s summer food pantry, available to support any CRLS students who need it!
    • We’ve launched a new pilot program: Market in the Park, a free farmers’ “market” much like our in-school markets, only outdoors.
    • This summer, we delivered food to Sisters Unchained, a summer learning experience for young women with formerly or currently incarcerated parents.
    • We’ve also added Vinfen’s Magazine Street location, where we’re providing fresh produce.
  • Staff update: greetings and goodbyes!
    • Ross Fiona and KrissyWe’re sad to bid goodbye to Ross Richmond, who’s done so much great work to get our Family Meals Program up and running. Please join us in wishing Ross a bon voyage as he begins a new chapter of life on the West Coast, where we know he’ll continue to do great work!
    • Fiona Crimmins, longtime Food For Free volunteer, started on Monday as our Program Manager for Family Meals. She’s picking up where Ross left off, working to get rescued Prepared Foods out into the community!
    • Krissy Scommegna, our Kitchen Manager for Family Meals, is going back to school in the fall, but we’re fortunate to be keeping her on as our Home Delivery Coordinator!

Check out the rest of our Summer Newsletter!

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Seeking supervolunteers: Beverage Captain, Food Wrangler, and Volunteer Coordinator!

Help us raise $70,000 for our Food Rescue and Distribution programs! We’re seeking helpers for 3 2 “supervolunteer” roles for our signature annual fundraiser, the Party Under the Harvest Moon.

These roles are great for folks who want to learn about nonprofit fundraising and events. They may also be a fit for folks with industry connections, but that’s not at all essential. What is essential is that potential volunteers are organized, dedicated, and can devote 1-3 hours a week to chip away at the tasks between now and October.

Interested? Contact with 1-2 paragraphs summarizing why you’re interested, any relevant past experience, and why you think you’d be a great fit.

Beverage Captain — this role has been filled!

Party Food Wrangler

The Food Wrangler will assist Food For Free’s Development Director in soliciting donations of food for our Party Under the Harvest Moon event, which is in October.

The Food Wrangler will:

  • Work alongside Food For Free’s Development Director to recruit 20-25 food donors for our October fundraising event.
  • Contact restaurants, bakeries, caterers, and other potential donors via phone and email to ask for donations of food
  • Communicate with potential and confirmed donors with professionalism and patience
  • Maintain accurate records (using Excel or Open Office Calc) of all communications and their results
  • Take responsibility for ensuring that all necessary information is collected and transmitted to Food For Free staff and the Party Food Chair
  • Be available to communicate with donors and with Food For Free staff *most* weeks from July 1 through October 14
  • Ideally, the Food Wrangler will also volunteer at the Party Under the Harvest Moon itself on the night of October 14, but this is not a requirement.

Volunteer Captain

Before the event:

  • Work alongside the office staff to fill about 80 volunteer
    positions at the event (October 14) by:

    • Using their own personal contacts
    • Managing and cheerleading the networking efforts of the Party Committee
    • Using appropriate email lists, online communities, and other
      recruitment tools, as needed
    • Note that Food For Free does have an active roster of volunteers to pull from.
  • Ensure that each volunteer has the right skills and qualifications for their role
  • Work with the office staff to maintain accurate and complete records of volunteer contact information and commitments
  • Communicate with volunteers, both proactively and responsively, to make sure that they have the information they need (shift details, accessibility info., directions, etc.) to complete their roles

During the event:

  • Serve as the main point of contact for volunteers during the
    Party under the Harvest Moon, including:

    • Being on site from 5 pm until 11 pm on October 14
    • Greeting volunteers as they arrive and direct them to the relevant Team Leader
    • Answering volunteer questions, seeking support and guidance from staff and Team Leaders, as necessary

After the event:

  • Work with the office staff to ensure that all volunteers are
    thanked for their efforts
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Food For Free is expanding our Board of Directors!

Update: Wow! That really worked! We have so many exciting candidates that we must stop accepting new applications at this time.

We’re seeking new applicants for our Board of Directors! Does this sound like you or someone you know?

About Food For Free

Food For Free improves access to healthy food within our community by rescuing food that would otherwise go to waste, strengthening the community food system, and creating new distribution channels to reach underserved populations.

We have grown significantly over the past four years:

  • in 2014, we launched our Prepared Food Rescue program, with Whole Foods Market and Harvard University as our inaugural Prepared Food donors
  • in January 2016, we adopted the Cambridge Weekend Backpack Program, which sends nearly 400 kids home with kid-friendly meals each weekend
  • in Spring of 2016, we launched Family Meals, an innovative new way to distribute surplus prepared foods

This organization is deeply rooted in its community. New regulations like the Massachusetts organics waste ban and the EPA’s food waste reduction goals bring great challenge and great opportunity to grow our mission. As we respond to these opportunities for growth, we remain committed to building on financially solid footing.

About potential board candidates

We are seeking board applicants who are passionate about environmental wellbeing and alleviating food insecurity.

We look for members who have access to resources—financial, personal and professional networks, and/or relationships with organizations with surplus food—that want to support the ongoing growth of Food For Free.

We seek folks who have entrepreneurial chops—who can help us envision opportunity, articulate next steps, adjust as necessary, and work with just-in-time resources.

We seek folks who are filled with compassion for those who face food insecurity, who are thrilled that nutritious food that would otherwise be composted is instead bounty for those who need it—and are jazzed about fundraising for this worthy cause.

We seek folks who are willing to bring their own particular skills and connections to the table. A few examples:

  • Are you a connector?
  • Can you make the case for big gifts confidently?
  • Do you have fast-track access to the right set of ears in government?
  • Are you connected to universities or corporations who will recognize goodwill opportunities to donate their surplus prepared food?
  • Do you have a platform to speak to the issues of food waste and food insecurity and health?
  • Do you have access to large donors or grant funding organizations that will support our mission?

Get in touch!

For more information email Sasha Purpura:

To apply for the position, please send a letter of interest discussing your qualifications to Sasha Purpura:

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Lunch and learn: watch this video & learn all about Food Rescue!

Have you ever wanted to learn more about how our organization was founded, and how we do what we do? Well, you’re in luck: our own Executive Director, Sasha Purpura, recently gave this “lunch and learn” presentation at Tufts University.

Go ahead, get your lunch out and hit play. In just one hour, you can learn all about food rescue (and how you can help!):

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Meet our new program: Family Meals!

Antoine Boucicaut at our Allston motel Family Meals distribution site

“What do you like? Hamburger? Chicken and potato? It [will] make you smart and strong.”

In the hallway of an Allston hotel where homeless families are being sheltered, Antoine Boucicaut opens a Food For Free cooler and jovially offers several meal options to a young boy who has come to collect meals for his family.

It’s not a long walk home—this boy’s family lives together just down the hall in a motel room equipped only with a microwave and a mini-fridge for food preparation.

“There are kids in every motel room,” explains Ross Richmond, Food For Free’s Community Partnership Manager, who worked on the creation of Family Meals.

Children like these and their families are the reason behind our newly launched Family Meals program, which repurposes rescued Prepared Foods into single-serving meals for people in need.

A closeup image of individual meals from Food For Free's Family Meals program

Family Meals: pioneering a new kind of food rescue

Family Meals currently distributes via Feastworthy, our Allston motel partnership, and via Take Home Tuesdays at the K-Lo Market, which serves low-income families with students at the Kennedy-Longfellow School. Our Allston distribution site, now in its pilot phase, is currently serving about 400 meals each week to 75 individuals.

We expect that Family Meals will grow from here. As Sasha Purpura explains, “In 1981, we became the nation’s first food rescue organization. Today hundreds, if not thousands of organizations are doing the same thing throughout the U.S. and the world.”

“Now we are pioneering the next wave in food rescue—prepared food. Millions of pounds of this food are thrown out daily at universities, hotels, corporations, and more. But this food is exactly what’s needed for homeless families in motels with no kitchens, for those working two or three jobs with no time to cook.”

Family Meals - before and afterFamily Meals transforms surplus prepared foods into user-friendly individual meals for people in need

The power of partnerships

The Feastworthy partnership is coordinated and funded by the Allston Brighton Health Collaborative. Action for Boston Community Development’s Neighborhood Opportunity Center provides logistical and distribution support while their Motel Support Services provides on-site program support. Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program is overseeing a study to track the health outcomes associated with program participation. Charlesview Inc. is an ABHC Steering Committee member and provides storage space. Food For Free packages the individual meals through the work of both staff and volunteers, and our drivers drop off meals as part of their regular delivery routes. 

Our food donor partners are crucial: Harvard University, Tufts University, Emmanuel College, and MIT donate surplus food weekly from their dining halls, and Google recently joined as our first corporate food donor partner.

Meeting people where they are

It has always been important to Food For Free that our programs meet people where they are, and provide them with food that meets their specific situation.

As Ross explains, “It’s often a challenge to bring the whole family to a different meal program every night of the week in order to get a healthy meal for your kids.

“Food pantries are great, but if you’re living in a motel, you don’t have anywhere to cook…so the most accessible and affordable option becomes processed food and fast food. With Family Meals, we want to provide an alternative.

“It’s not enough for us as a state, or as a society, to say, ‘Here’s a hotel room. You’re not homeless anymore. Good luck.'”

Antoine Boucicaut of ABCD with Ross Richmond of Food For Free

Want to help? Become a donor, or volunteer!



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What’s going on around here? (Spring 2016 edition)

  • New food donors:
    • Google has joined us as a Prepared Foods partner, and we’re now picking up surplus meals from their Kendall Square office’s storied dining area.
    • Chipotle in Central Square is now contributing surplus Prepared Foods.
    • Trader Joe’s in Needham has joined us as a Produce Rescue partner.
  • New food programs & partnerships:
  • New volunteer opportunities:
    • Volunteer to ride in our Ride for Food—registration just opened! (Riders fundraise for our Food Rescue programs throughout the summer, then enjoy a gorgeous fall bike ride with the rest of the team on September 25th.)
    • Volunteer at our kitchen to help transform rescued Prepared Foods into individual meals for Family Meals. Since this program is so new, we need lots of helpers—this could be you!
    • Volunteer on-truck to help deliver to our Home Delivery clients—we’ve opened up some new on-truck shifts!
Posted in Newsletter Updates, Newsletters, Prepared Food Rescue, Produce Rescue, Programs, Volunteers | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Spotlight on: Whole Foods

We’ve got 4 fun facts to share about our food donation partner, Whole Foods Market. Ready? Go!

Whole Foods 41%

4. Supporters since Day One: Ever since there has been a Whole Foods at Prospect Street, River Street, Fresh Pond, and Beacon Street, they’ve been donating their excess food to Food For Free.

3. Prepared Foods Rescuers: Whole Foods was one of our first donors for our Prepared Foods Rescue program, which has now become an integral part of our Food Rescue work. In the beginning, it was just Harvard University and Whole Foods Market.

2. Funding as well as food: Whole Foods knows that a robust food rescue program requires not just food, but also funding to pay for things like fuel, trucks, space, and staff time.

They’ve made significant monetary contributions through their Whole Night Madness and 5% Day shopping benefits, and helped us fundraise by sponsoring our recent Empty Bowls benefit.

And, most significantly of all:

1. Our largest food donor: 41% of all the food we rescued last year came from Whole Foods! Can you imagine if all that good food went to compost instead? Instead, our five partner stores—Prospect Street, River Street, Fresh Pond, Somerville, and Medford—work hard to make sure that their surplus food ends up on a Food For Free truck, headed out to people who need it.

As Community Liaison Matthew Keller says, “We take pride knowing that we can help get healthy meals to the community with something that could easily be discarded.”

Thank you to all of the wonderful people who make food rescue happen at Whole Foods Market—we couldn’t do it without you!
DSC_0830 copy sonyahighfield LRMatthew Keller, Community Liaison for Whole Foods Market, with Sasha Purpura, Food For Free’s Executive Director, at our 2016 Empty Bowls benefit

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Photos from Empty Bowls

Empty Bowls was a great success this year, raising over $15,000 for our Food Rescue work. Thanks so much to everyone who bought tickets, played the raffle, and volunteered.

Extra big thanks once again to our wonderful host, Mudflat Pottery School, and our sponsors, Whole Foods Market and Winter Hill Bank.

Please enjoy these lovely pictures from the event, with gratitude to Sonya Highfield Photography:

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