We’re hiring: Field of Greens Farm Manager (seasonal and part-time)

Field of Greens Farm Manager (seasonal and part-time)

Food For Free is seeking a farm manager for the 2018 growing season! Field of Greens is a program of Food For Free where staff and volunteers grow and harvest organic vegetables for distribution to agencies and programs who serve low income populations. Field of Greens takes place on 1/4 acre of land, at Lindentree farm in Lincoln, MA. The land, seeds, and equipment used are all donated each year by farmer Ari Kurtz.

The farm manager works approximately 5 hours per week with volunteers from April/May through October/November to grow a variety of vegetables using organic methods. Food harvested will be distributed weekly to the Pine Street Inn, a homeless shelter for men and women in Boston, for their 2000 meals per day, as well as be used in their restaurant training program for shelter guests. Please see some press from previous years' partnership with Pine Street Inn:

Channel 5 "Five for Good"
Boston Globe, October 2016

We are looking to deepen and expand this amazing farm to shelter program and need an enthusiastic farmer with an interest in connecting farming with our most at risk populations.

Volunteers are a critical part of successfully producing vegetables at Field of Greens as they put in hundreds of hours of time each season.

The farm manager must be available to work on the farm from 8-12:30 every Wednesday during the season with some email interaction with volunteers between working days.

Skills needed:
  • Crop planning
  • Farm experience
  • Volunteer management
  • Excellent communication skills
  • Ability to work independently
Have deep respect for working another farmers land

Applicants must have their own transportation to and from the farm and must be willing to come to Cambridge at least twice during the year to meet other staff and see the main operation. Managers are invited to volunteer on our pick-up/delivery trucks at any point, should they wish to see how our core food rescue operations work.

$15/hr approximately 5 hrs per week (Wednesdays) from April/May to October/November

To apply, send resume and cover letter to: Fiona Crimmins fiona@foodforfree.org. Resumes will be reviewed on a rolling basis.
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Student Hunger and the Cycle of Poverty: a new direction for Food For Free


At the end of a school day, parents, teachers, and school staff loop through the cafeteria, shopping through an assortment of free groceries and produce. Under the same roof, volunteers fill backpacks with breakfasts and lunches for students to take straight home on Friday. Food For Free’s School Markets and Cambridge Weekend Backpack Program provide services in the same halls where Cambridge’s students go every day to learn—and that’s what makes them so effective. As Food For Free looks ahead at the next three years, the organization will emphasize schools as the primary entry point for hunger relief services.

In the last five years, all of Food For Free’s programs have grown tremendously. Besides adopting the Backpack Program and launching four School Markets, we have tripled the amount of food we rescue, doubled the recipients of Home Delivery, and created the Family Meals program. As we continue to operate all of these programs, we recognize the need to intentionally seek how Food For Free can best serve our community and extend what we are capable of doing.

We are excited to announce our vision for the next three years to focus our efforts on expanding services in schools and colleges. We wil do this while maintaining our current operations.

Our strategic plan is the result of a year of collaboration between Food For Free’s Board of Directors, staff members, and our partners at the consulting firm Impact Catalysts. Last fall, the planning group identified the organization’s strengths and the areas in our community where food rescue and hunger relief efforts can be most effective. The plan emphasizes three goals: extending our programs in K-12 schools in Cambridge and surrounding communities, developing programs to address hunger in public colleges, and sharing our expertise in school-based hunger relief as a thought leader in Greater Boston.

School buildings serve as an effective entry point for engagement with the root causes of hunger and poverty. Just in Cambridge, 45% of K-12 students qualify for free and reduced price lunches, and the city has identified an increase in poverty among families with school-aged children. We hope to serve students and their families who struggle with hunger by meeting them in a place where they spend time every day. Our goal is to limit barriers to entry and provide convenient and dignified access to food, specifically through expansions of the Backpack Program and School Markets.

A statewide study has also identified a growing need for hunger relief among college students. Over a third of Massachusetts’ public and community colleges report increases in students facing food insecurity and hunger. At Bunker Hill Community College, around half of all students experience regular, sustained periods of hunger or insufficient nutrition. We plan to address this need by piloting and expanding our Family Meals program in public colleges.

Recognizing the limited capacity of our organization and the breadth of need in areas beyond Cambridge, the final objective of Food For Free’s strategic plan is to document and then disseminate our expertise in school hunger relief programs. By conducting research, documenting our models, and working in collaboration with other agencies, Food For Free seeks to share meaningful contributions with the broader effort of hunger relief.

Food For Free is confident that addressing student hunger has the potential to disrupt the poverty cycle. By using the school buildings themselves to expand food access, Food For Free considers the challenges that all families, particularly those experiencing poverty, face day to day. When families have sufficient access to nutritious food, students are able to be active and attentive throughout the school day and achieve greater success throughout their primary, secondary, and post-secondary academic careers.

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What we’re up to: Winter 2018 Edition


2017 By the Numbers

In 2017, Food For Free:
  • Rescued 1.8 million pounds of food
  • Distributed 2 million pounds—that’s the equivalent of 1.6 million meals!
  • Transported another 1.2 million pounds between the Greater Boston Food Bank and local food programs
  • Helped 565 students arrive at school well-fed on Monday mornings through the Cambridge Weekend Backpack Program
  • Supported 125 seniors and people with disabilities in cooking for themselves, while making sure they received adequate nutrition, through Home Delivery program
  • Held 30 School Markets reaching more than 500 Cambridge families
  • Harvested 5,331 pounds of crops for Pine Street Inn’s guests and culinary students at Field of Greens, including beets, broccoli, bok choy, cabbage, carrots, chard, collards, kale lettuce, parsley, scallions, radishes, tomatoes, and turnips

January Staff Changes

Food For Free has created a new leadership position to help us further the goal of working with schools to end hunger. As of January 1, Alanna Mallon, former Program Director and founder of the Cambridge Weekend Backpack Program, has moved into the role of K-12 Strategic Lead. She will help us further build our relationships with the Cambridge School system, and begin to develop new relationships outside of Cambridge. Alanna will be responsible for identifying need in the schools and will work with the rest of Food For Free’s leadership team to prioritize the roll-out of new programs.

Fiona Crimmins will be stepping into the role of Program Director. Taking over management of Field of Greens, Home Delivery, School Markets, and the Cambridge Weekend Backpack Program,, Fiona will work to create consistency across programs (where appropriate). Fiona will continue lead the Family Meals program which will, in the coming year, focus on expanding into state and community colleges.

We are delighted to welcome Ashia Aubourg to Food For Free as our new Cross-Program Coordinator as of January 8! Ashia interned with Food For Free in 2016, working on the Cambridge Rindge and Latin School food pantry, the Cambridge Weekend Backpack Program, and the Market in the Park pilot. A Cambridge native, Ashia brings on-the-ground experience, lots of enthusiasm, and a big smile to her new role. Please say hi the next time you see her at one of our programs! 

Funding

We received grants from these funders in November and December: We’re also pleased to share that our Winter Appeal raised over $135,000—even more than we’d hoped for! If you didn’t get around to making a contribution, don’t let the calendar stop you. You can donate here.

Thanks for reading, and thank you for supporting Food For Free!

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Bailey Reflects on her First Three Months with Family Meals


Hello!

My name is Bailey Werner, and I have been serving as the Family Meals Program Coordinator since early September. As such, I spend most my time in the Christ Church kitchen in Harvard Square assembling and packaging single-serving, microwavable Family Meals with a team of volunteers. From my vantage point in the kitchen, a few things have really stuck out to me about the Family Meals Program.

First, I was immediately struck by how many moving parts make up the weekly functioning of the program. By the time we’re packaging meals in the kitchen, most of the food has made an impressive journey through multiple stages of sorting and shipping and coordination. Bags of vegetable quinoa and teriyaki chicken and potatoes in all shapes and sizes are trucked over to the kitchen each morning from the Food For Free freezer, where they landed after they were picked up from university and corporate dining halls around Greater Boston. Over the span of the next four or so hours, these prepared frozen foods are broken down and repackaged into meals that then get picked up, sorted, and eventually shipped out to agencies around the city who have identified those who may benefit from receiving these meals. It’s a careful orchestration that requires many hands, a few trucks, and quite a few spreadsheets; it’s efficient if not graceful, and at the end of the day, countless boxes of food have been rescued and hundreds of people have been fed.



Second, I have found myself consistently impressed by the amount of consideration and genuine care that goes into the assembly of each meal. While making as many meals as possible is a goal, of course, the quality of the meals remains of utmost priority in the kitchen. The volunteers and I work hard to ensure that each meal contains a hearty serving of protein, vegetables, and starch, and that these meals look appetizing and taste good. Since replacing our system of handwriting meal labels with a new label printer, we’re able to be even more specific with what we call each meal— instead of serving people “Chicken and Grain,” we can serve them “Oven Roasted Chicken and Vegetable Couscous,” and thereby offer them more agency in what they eat. Putting so much care into the assembly of each meal definitely takes a good amount of time and energy, but it is, I have learned, a priority that we all share in the kitchen.



Last, nothing has floored me quite like the seemingly inexhaustible dedication of each and every one of our Family Meals volunteers. Making Family Meals is no easy task. A 10-pound bag of frozen rice takes some real hammering to break down into a usable format, and standing up and working in a kitchen for four hours requires quite a bit of energy. Yet, many of our volunteers return every week— some twice a week— and offer an incredibly generous donation of time, elbow grease, and positive energy. I imagine (or, at least, I hope) that our volunteers know that Family Meals would not at all be possible without their help, but it is hard for me to express exactly how important their ongoing care and support for the Family Meals Program is. For this (and for teaching me the ropes of the kitchen work when I was brand new!) I am so grateful.
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Rindge School of Technical Arts Students Dig into Questions of Food Justice


“If you spend a dollar on food, how much of that dollar goes to each level of the food system?” This is the question that culinary students puzzled through during their first class back from summer vacation. Working together around a seminar table, they made a list of different actors in the food system—farmers, processing plants, retailers, food service employees—and spent the rest of class in discussion with each other about the actual and the ideal roles of each of these actors. These students at the Rindge School of Technical Arts have spent the last three years learning about the food service industry and gaining practical skills in an instructional kitchen. Since this school year began, they’ve been animated over a new assignment: improving the food system.

The Rindge School of Technical Arts (RSTA), in collaboration with Food For Free, is incorporating food justice education into its culinary arts curriculum. In addition to packing food for the Cambridge Weekend Backpack Program, seniors in the Culinary Arts and Hospitality program are learning about the food system, and through student-led discussions and self-driven projects, are working to make it better.

Cambridge Rindge and Latin School has already been a close community partner with Food For Free by supporting the CWBP. Each week, students from the culinary program sort and pack food in the RSTA instructional kitchen, so that the food is ready to be received by Cambridge’s elementary schools. Without the volunteer help, workspace, and storage capacity that RSTA provides, the Backpack Program would not be able to serve its current 16 participating schools.

Chef Catherine Thomas saw the potential for her students to gain a deeper understanding of the problems that the CWBP seeks to address. Working together, Chef Thomas and Food For Free’s Lauren O’Brien developed a curriculum for the 2017-2018 school year that will cover several issues of food justice, including food waste, food insecurity, and food recovery. The course also has built-in opportunities for developing professional skills, such as interviewing, public speaking, and financial literacy. The capstone of RSTA’s food justice class is a project in which students will research and present on one area of the food system. Part of the students’ research will be to interview someone involved in food justice work in the community, such as a nonprofit coordinator or a local restaurant owner. Students will consider challenges the community faces regarding the food system, and propose a possible improvement or solution.

The syllabus’ project description speaks to the class’ interactive design: “Rather than simply read about what is being done to tackle food injustice, we will be attempting to learn from those who are on the ground each and every day working towards improvement of the food system.”

One goal of the class is for students to learn through assignments such as interviewing each other, working on a budget for a hypothetical nonprofit organization, and taking field trips to several sites in Cambridge where food justice is happening.

Lauren O’Brien, who will be co-teaching alongside Chef Thomas, hopes to “get the ball rolling in the students’ minds if they want to work in food…to consider the injustice throughout the food system at every level.” We’re excited to see how the students’ research will add a deeper level of meaning to the CWBP and our partnership with CRLS.

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Backpack Update

The Cambridge Weekend Backpack Program continues to grow and thrive. We currently serve nearly 500 students in 16 Cambridge elementary and middle schools.

After a successful pilot last spring, we are now serving the Benjamin Banneker Charter School in North Cambridge.

This expansion was instigated when school administrator reached out to Food For Free Program Director Alanna Mallon last spring, asking if we could bring the program to the school. We started with a pilot, serving just six students. This allowed us to help the students most in-need at the school and to put procedures in place for bringing the Backpack Program to the school more broadly this fall. We now serve 30 students and have the capacity to add additional students as word of the program spreads within the school.

The program at the Banneker Charter School is supported by the school’s family liaison, who packs the bags, and two teachers who pick up the food from Cambridge Rindge and Latin Highschool, which is where we stage the program and divide up the food for all of the participating schools.

Life Science Cares Milk Drive
Our friends at Life Science Cares wanted to support the Backpack Program with a food drive this fall. Alanna suggested a milk drive, and a plan was hatched.

Life Science Cares organized their member companies in a month-long drive, which gathered enough milk to support the Backpack Program’s needs for a full month.

Funding
We are all hugely grateful to Blue Cross Blue Shield Massachusetts for their support of the Backpack Program through a Healthy Living Community Grant.

While the Backpack Program is expected to receive partial funding from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts this year, the program is not yet fully funded. Also, we are mindful of the loss of funding that occurred last year due to Governor Baker’s “9C” cuts.

We welcome your support. You can give directly to the Backpack Program here through the end of the year.

If you prefer to give in kind, the Backpack Program is also seeking grocery store gift cards to assist families over the holidays. Donations of cards in $15, $25 and $40 denominations are welcome, preferably from Market Basket or Star/Shaws. These can be mailed Attn: Michelle, to Food For Free, at 11 Inman Street, Cambridge, 02139.
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What’s We’re Up To: Autumn 2017 Edition

Programs
  • We’ve shuffled our Home Delivery schedule a bit to make room for more clients. We expect to reach 150 clients over the next six months, but we need your help to do it.
  • Food Rescue continues to grow. New donors include the Trader Joes in Allston, Bentley University, Wellesley Public Schools, and Olin College.
  • Family Meals is piloting a new approach at Harvard in collaboration with Harvard University Dining Services. Student volunteers are packaging meals this fall under the guidance of a work-study student supervisor. Harvard is picking up the tab for the student supervisor, and we are grateful!
  • Updates on the Cambridge Weekend Backpack Program needed their own post.



Staff
  • Bailey Werner has joined our staff as Family Meals Program Coordinator, replacing Amy Starzec in the kitchen. Bailey's past experience, super positive attitude, and ability to manage many things at once make her the perfect person to help the Family Meals program as it continues to grow.
  • Sarah Adler, Ryan’s right-hand woman in her position as Operations Coordinator, has also joined the program team, as Home Delivery Program Coordinator. We are all excited about not only getting more of Sarah’s time but also taking advantage of her smarts, compassion, and commitment to service in this client-facing position.
  • Stuart Mapes is interning with us for the year as part of the Presbyterian Church’s Young Adult Volunteers program. The Presbyteriam Church describes the program as “a faith-based year of service for young people, ages 19-30, in 22 sites around the world and in the United States. YAVs accompany local agencies working to address root causes of poverty and reconciliation while exploring the meaning and motivation of their faith in intentional community with peers and mentors.”


Funding
Lots of exciting grants in the last few months! The Party Under the Harvest Moon
  • Raised over $85,000 for Food For Free’s work
  • Was a lot of fun! You can check out some photos here.
  • Was made possible by support from MIT, Cambridge Savings Bank, and many other generous sponsors.
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Current Volunteer Opportunities


Family Meals turns donated, frozen prepared foods into individual heat-and-eat meals for people with limited access to cooking facilities. We supply meals to local K-12 schools, communities colleges, and various other programs that work with homeless people and those facing food insecurity.

What: Tasks include breaking down frozen bulk prepared food, filling meal trays, and sealing and labeling the meals. Volunteers must be comfortable standing for several hours at a time, interested in working with their hands, comfortable handling prepared foods, and attentive and tidy in their work.

When: Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday mornings, 8:45 a.m.-12:30 p.m.

Where: Harvard Square, Cambridge

Questions? Contact Program Manager Fiona Crimmins at fiona@foodforfree.org.

Home Delivery brings twice-monthly boxes of food to homebound seniors and people with disabilities who are unable to access food pantries.

What: Volunteers pack food for delivery and/or accompany the driver on the delivery route. Volunteers must be able to lift 40 pounds and must be comfortable standing for several hours at a time. Volunteers interested in riding on the truck must also able to get into and out of the truck with ease.

When:
Friday
7:15-9am Truck assistant shift
9-11am Box packing
11-3pm Truck assistant shift


Saturday
7:30-10am Box Packing
10-1pm Truck assistant shift
1-4pm Truck assistant shift

Sunday
7:30-9:30am Box Packing
9:30-2pm Truck assistant shift

Where: 11 Inman St., Cambridge

Questions? Contact Program Director Alanna Mallon at alanna@foodforfree.org

Sign up to receive weekly volunteer invitations here.
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Sneak Peak: Party Under the Harvest Moon “Grab” Packages

The Party Under the Harvest Moon is just a few weeks away. Do you have your tickets?

Year after year, our Farm Stand "grab" packages are a favorite, usually selling out well before the event is over. We have a LOT of really cool items this year. Some will sell for $20; others for $40. You won't know what you're getting, but we promise that each bag is worth more than the price. A tiny sample:

Real Pickles goodie bag: 4 jars + T-shirt
Value: $65
These pickles ain't fickle! Real Pickles is a small, worker-owned cooperative producing pickled products that are raw, vinegar-free, 100% organic, and rich in probiotics. In support of a regional food system, ingredients are sourced only from family farms in the Northeast. Dig into 4 jars of fermented goodness (maybe even while wearing your new Real Pickles T-shirt?) with this gift certificate.
Delivery within the Northeast only, including MA, NH, RI, ME, CT, VT, NY, NJ, PA

Donated By: Real Pickles


$50 to Spend at Iggy's

Iggy's Philosophy: At Iggy's we choose to buy only the highest-quality ingredients, because we want to feel proud of our products and make the best breads that we possibly can. The ingredients that we purchase are all-natural always and organic whenever possible. Our choices are made with the planet and the people in mind, as we work to nurture health for both.

Donated By: Iggy's Bakery

JP Licks Sundae Party For 10
Value: $50
Includes: 2 Quarts of ice cream (pick 2 flavors) , 1 pt of your favorite topping (choose from sprinkles, caramel, mini M&M's, walnuts and more), 1 pt of hot fudge, plus whipped cream, cups and spoons

Donation is for in-store picked up only. Please call the store you wish to pick up from ahead of time. Store will not be able to fill donations after 7pm.

Donated by: JP Licks

Boston Public Market Goodie Bag
Value: $75
A large and sturdy canvas tote bag filled with a $20 gift card for use anywhere at Boston Public Market, plastic ware and a copy of Boston Public Market Seasonal Cookbook. This informative, user-friendly cookbook is filled with beautiful photographs of seasonal food.
Donated by: Boston Public Market
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We’re Hiring a Family Meals Program Coordinator!

NOTE: This position has been filled. Food For Free is hiring a part-time Program Coordinator for our Family Meals program. Family Meals re-purposes surplus prepared foods into single-serving meals for people with limited access to kitchens. The Program Coordinator will 1) serve as a kitchen manager; 2) provide general support to the Program Manager. This position is 20 hours/week initially, with the potential to increase in the future.  The Program Coordinator will report to the Family Meals Program Manager.

We envision a future where everyone in our community—regardless of age, income, or ability—has consistent access to fresh, healthy, delicious food.

Areas of Responsibility

  • Meal Production: Assist in producing approximately 600 meals per week.

  • Food Safety: Ensure food safety practices in all aspects of food handling throughout meal production.

  • Volunteer Management: Work with the Program Manager to recruit, schedule, and manage volunteers in the production of meals each week.

  • Manage Prepared Food Donations: Identify and sort rescued food suitable for the Family Meals program.

  • Record Keeping: Maintain accurate program records.

  • Other duties as assigned

Qualifications

  • Commitment to social justice, and food justice in particular

  • Interest in feeding families in need

  • Experience in the foodservice industry

  • ServSafe Manager certification (can be acquired shortly after hire)

  • Ability to work on your feet for several hours at a time

  • Ability to lift 40 pounds repeatedly during a shift

  • Ability to manage a kitchen production process with a smile

  • Comfortability managing and working with volunteers doing meal preparation

  • Ability and willingness to identify and implement improvements to the kitchen production process

  • Exceptional leadership, interpersonal, and communication skills

  • Ability to think on your feet and problem-solve in the moment

  • A high level of organization and time-management skills

  • Maturity and sound judgment

  • A warm and professional demeanor

How to Apply

Send a resume and cover letter to Program Manager Fiona Crimmins via email at fiona@foodforfree.org.

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