What We’re Up To: Spring 2017 Edition

People Programs Parties Planning
  • We’ve begun a strategic planning process, with the help of the firm Impact Catalysts
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A New Mission at Field of Greens

In 1991, when our food rescue program was a lot smaller, we’d often run out of fresh vegetables to deliver, even in the summertime. Ari Kurtz, of Lindentree Farm, offered Food For Free a plot of land on his farm, where we could grow vegetables to supplement what we were able to rescue. Field of Greens was born.

For the last 26 years, Lindentree Farm has loaned Food For Free land every year but one—when we were flooded out by a beaver dam. Ari also donates seeds, gives us space in his greenhouse, and lets us use his tools and irrigation equipment. Field of Greens wouldn’t exist without Lindentree’s extraordinary support.

Over the years, Field of Greens’ role has changed. As Food For Free has grown and our supply of rescued vegetables has become bigger and more stable, the need for extra produce in the summer has lessened. A couple of years ago, we began asking ourselves “How can Field of Greens be more meaningful?”

Last year, Alanna Mallon found the answer.

Since 1990, Pine Street Inn—New England’s largest homeless shelter and one of Food For Free’s Food Rescue recipients—has offered job training in food services, as well as other fields. This program trains about 100 participants each year in skills such as menu preparation, kitchen safety, food sanitation, and hands-on cooking skills. Trainees work with Pine Street’s culinary staff to prepare 2,000 meals a day for Pine Street’s guests, and also have the opportunity to work with Pine Street’s social enterprise catering company

One of the challenges for Pine Street’s culinary program is the budget constraints that limit their ability to purchase fresh vegetables. It’s hard to learn knife skills if all you get to work with is frozen vegetables.

For the second year in a row Field of Greens is set to help. Working with Pine Street’s chef Frank Overbeeke, Farm Managers Theresa and Seth are planning our crops to meet Pine Street’s needs. This year’s harvest will include beets, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, chard, collards, kale, lettuce, and scallions.

We sent our crop plan to Pine Street a few weeks ago, so that Chef Overbeeke can know what vegetables he’ll be getting when, and can plan his menu accordingly.

Field of Greens will also be growing herbs for our Home Delivery clients this year, including basil, parsley, oregano, rosemary, and thyme.

Chef Overbeeke's Broccoli Salad

5 Cups fresh broccoli
6 to 8 slices cooked bacon, crumbled (optional)
¼ cup chopped red onion
½ cup raisins or dried cranberries
1 cup sunflowers
1 cup mayonnaise
3 tablespoons white vinegar
3 tablespoons sugar

Mix the broccoli, onion and raisins in a large bowl. In another smaller bowl mix the mayo, sugar and vinegar. Add this dressing to the broccoli mixture and toss well. Just before serving add the sunflower seeds and bacon, (if using) and re-toss.
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Photos from Empty Bowls 2017

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We’re ALSO hiring a (seasonal) Auction Manager

Food For Free is hiring an Auction manager—a temporary, part-time position Food For Free is a non-profit organization that 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 envision a future where everyone in our community—regardless of age, income or ability—has consistent access to fresh, healthy, delicious food.

Food For Free is hiring a part-time Auction Manager to execute the auction portion of our Party Under the Harvest Moon fundraiser. This temporary, part-time position runs from mid-June through late October 2016. Hours worked will range from about 5 hours/week in June to about 30 hours during the week of the event, which is October 20—about 200 hours in all. The Auction Manager is responsible for managing all aspects of the auction and for reaching an income target of $20,000.

Item Solicitation
  • Work with the Development Director to identify areas where new donors are needed and to identify prospective donors
  • Work with the Party Committee to brainstorm one-of-a-kind experiences, and to close these asks
  • Develop a plan to solicit from new donors, including direct mail, cold calls, and personal asks
  • Follow up on both new asks and asks to previous donors (begun earlier in the year)
  • Oversee collection of item forms/information
  • Organize item information and oversee data entry
  • Track progress toward targets and adjust tactics as necessary to meet income goal
  • Work with the Development Assistant to ensure that donors receive timely thank-yous
Committee and Volunteer Management
  • Attend Party Committee meetings as needed (typically one evening per month)
  • Communicate effectively with Party Committee to help them close their personal asks and to keep them informed of progress
  • Recruit and manage volunteers to help with asks, data entry, and item/display collection
  • Recruit, train, and manage volunteers to assist with running the auction on the night of the event
Auction Software Management
  • Learn and use 501 Auctions auction management software
  • Oversee data entry and uploading of images for all auction items
  • Work with Development Director to update all event information in the 501 Auctions system
  • Ensure that online auction software is up and running one week before the event to allow for online bidding
  • Work with the Development Assistant to promote the auction and online bidding via emails and social media
  • Manage the 501 Auctions software on the day of the event, including troubleshooting, as necessary
Creation of Auction Program
  • Ensure that all item information is received in time to create the printed program
  • Write item descriptions OR oversee volunteers in writing them
  • Work with Development Director to collect non-auction content (such as ads)
  • Oversee layout and proofreading
  • Work with printers to produce a high-quality printed program under a tight timeline
Day-of-Event Management
  • Be the face of the auction at the Party Under the Harvest Moon, on October 20
  • Train and manage volunteers to assist party guests with their auction participation
  • Troubleshoot technical challenges with the 501 Auctions system, as necessary
  • Ensure a smooth and enjoyable experience for Party guests/auction bidders
  • Participate in strike (clean-up) with particular responsibility for auction items, supplies, and tools
  • Ensure that the Development staff receive all relevant data on auction sales, payments outstanding, and any items not collected day-of
Skills & Qualifications
  • Personal honesty and integrity
  • Maturity and sound judgment
  • Ability to handle confidential information with sensitivity
  • A warm and professional demeanor, in person, on the phone, and in written communications
  • A high level of organization and time-management skills
  • Attention to detail
  • Ability to work with a range of people and personalities effectively
  • Experience managing volunteers strongly desired
  • A high level of proficiency with Microsoft Word and Excel
  • Familiarity with, or the ability to learn quickly, our online auction management system (501 Auctions)
  • Experience with desk-top publishing a plus!
  • Ability to attend occasional evening meetings in Cambridge
  • Ability to work a long day on October 20
  • Ability to work in both the Food For Free office and a loud, crowded event
How to apply
Send a resume and cover letter to Michelle Holcomb via email to development@foodforfree.org.
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We’re hiring an Executive Assistant!

Edit: This position has been filled!

The Executive Assistant is brand-new part-time position (20hrs/wk) reporting to the Executive Director and will be responsible for providing professional administrative support to ensure the Food For Free offices operate in an organized, efficient and professional manner, all while having fun. This is a new position with room for creativity and growth in a growing organization.

The Executive Assistant supports the Executive Director and senior staff as necessary. This will include a significant amount of administrative work but will also involve helping Food For Free create and implement new systems and policies and taking on special projects. You will be required to attend board meetings which occur in the evenings and events, which may take place during evenings or weekends.

You’ll be exposed to all aspects of our amazing organization, from budgeting to board meetings to program/operations to the challenges and requirements of an expanding business. We are a small office with passionate and committed staff doing incredible things. We’re looking for someone energetic, creative, intelligent, professional, crazy-responsible, detail-oriented, and also passionate about getting healthy food to people who need it. A sense of humor wouldn’t hurt.

Essential Functions:
  • Perform a wide variety of administrative support activities which require handling business-sensitive and confidential information
  • Coordinate meeting logistics, book conference room, issue agenda, secure catering, take minutes, and follow up on action points as needed both internally and board-related
  • Manage expenses, including paying bills, issuing invoices, and tracking employee spending
  • Generate financial reports for board/finance committee and for trend analysis
  • With guidance from the Executive Director, identify needed policies and procedures, including an employee handbook, and lead the creation/implementation
  • Assist with special projects, staff training and other general office tasks as needed or assigned
  • Act as liaison to student groups wishing to engage with Food For Free
  • Make suggestions, solve problems, expand your role, and help us increase our impact!

Skills, knowledge, and experience:
  • At least 3 years of professional experience with excellent references
  • Positive attitude and ability to self-start, work independently and achieve high standards to meet multiple deadlines
  • Excellent communicator, including writing, speaking, editing, proofreading and computer skills, with great attention to detail
  • Strong calendaring and organizational skills
  • Adept in developing and maintaining strong relationships with staff and other stakeholders
  • Exhibit a high degree of professionalism, business judgment, tact and diplomacy
  • Excellent problem-solving skills
  • Familiarity with - or ability to quickly learn – QuickBooks and reporting in Excel
  • Passion for fighting hunger and/or food waste

Application Details
  • Send cover letter and resume to Sasha Purpura: sasha@foodforfree.org
  • Please include “Executive Assistant” in the subject line
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Seeking candidates for the Board of Directors

Edit, as of June 16, 2017: We are no longer recruiting new Board members

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.

In 1981 we became the nation’s first food rescue organization. Over the past 35 years we have expanded our anti-hunger work to include farming, delivery of fresh produce to homebound residents, food transportation services, a weekend backpack program for low-income school children, and more. Our newest program, Family Meals, is an innovative new model that repurposes surplus frozen prepared food from Harvard, Google, and other donors, creating well-balanced, microwavable meals for families sheltered in motels and others with limited access to cooking.

In the past few years there has been an increased focus on food recovery locally, nationally, and globally. In 2010, Massachusetts passed a progressive waste ban limiting the amount of food waste organizations can send to landfill. In 2015, President Obama and the EPA announced a national goal to cut food waste in half by 2030. Countries like France are passing laws requiring food donation from supermarkets and large institutions. Food for Free is proud to be part of a growing movement of food recovery on a local, national and international level.

Food For Free has benefited from an increased focus on food recovery. Over the past 5 years our budget has more than doubled while our impact has grown even further – food rescue has increased 3-fold, food distribution has grown by over 100%, we are reaching over ten thousand more individuals in metro Boston, and we’ve expanded our programming to impact schools, homeless families in motels, and more.

We are seeking board applicants who are passionate about environmental wellbeing and alleviating food insecurity. We annually look to recruit board members who have access to resources—financial, personal and professional networks, and/or relationships with organizations with surplus food—that want to play an active and engaged role in the continued growth of Food For Free. We seek individuals who are willing to bring their own particular skills and connections to the table. A few examples:
  • Are you a connector? Do you regularly find yourself successfully linking causes to funders, causes to solutions or causes to in-kind donors?
  • Do you have access to large donors or grant funding organizations that will support our mission?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 retailers, concessionaires, 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?

For more information email Sasha Purpura: director@foodforfree.org

To apply for the position, please send a letter of interest discussing your qualifications to Sasha Purpura: director@foodforfree.org
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The Backpack Program is Saved!

Back in early December, we had a bit of a scare. Governor Baker, as part of his 9C budget cuts, slashed $110,000 of state funding for the Cambridge Weekend Backpack Program. This was 100% of the funding we had been promised by the state and 68% of the total funding for this program. (And almost 12% of Food For Free’s entire budget for the year!)

Happening five months into our fiscal year, this was pretty scary. Could we recoup this funding? Would we have to scale back the program?

"We were very worried when these cuts came down," said Sasha Purpura, Food For Free's Executive Director. "Cutting the program wasn't something I was willing to consider, but I just didn't know how we were going to raise that much money halfway through our fiscal year."

The good news? Our supporters rode to the rescue!

Nearly 300 individuals, local businesses, and private family foundations responded, donating over $60,000 in less than two months. And, just last week, Biogen, a biotech company with offices in East Cambridge, committed $20,000 in funding.

The City of Cambridge—awesome as always—has also stepped up to the plate, committing the remaining $35,000 still needed to replace the entire $110,000 that was lost.

We are now 90% of the way to funding the program—in its entirety—for this fiscal year. Which is to say, we’re in better shape than before we lost state funds.

Further more, Cambridge's City Manager, Louie DePasquale (who is in the middle of his budget process,) will be making a $75 000 funding recommendation to the City Council for the next fiscal year (thank you, Louie and thank you, Cambridge!), which means—with your continued support and that of business partners like Biogen—the Backpack Program should have stable funding for years to come.

Of Biogen Foundation's support, Chris Barr, Executive Director, Biogen Foundation and Associate Director, Community Relations for Biogen says:
Food For Free's Weekend Backpack Program is such an important resource for Cambridge kids. The Biogen Foundation is so proud to have played a role in preserving this program.
So, thank you! Thank you, individuals who chipped in, businesses that found some money in your budgets, activists who helped us spread the word, Chris Barr and his team at Biogen, Vice Mayor McGovern and Councillor Cheung for raising this in city council and Louis Depasquale for lending city support. Thanks to you, Cambridge schoolchildren can continue to depend on this program. They can look forward to weekends full of healthy meals and to attending class on Monday mornings well-fed and able to learn.

Our supporters are the BEST.

One final note: because the crisis has passed, we have now taken down the “Donate Now” button on the Backpack Program page. You can, of course, still donate to Food For Free here where your donation will support the Backpack Program as well as ALL of Food For Free's (awesome, if we do say so ourselves) programs, like Food Rescue, Home Delivery, and Family Meals. So, go ahead and donate if you like, and know that your support always matters to people who might otherwise go hungry.

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What We’re Up To: Winter 2017 Edition

It used to be that winter was a quieter season here at Food For Free. With Thanksgiving long gone and most farmers’ markets closed for the year, we used to spend winter quietly planning for the coming year, while continuing to rescue food from our many year-round donors.

This winter has been anything but quiet.

We’ve been hiring.
  • Lauren O’Brien (above) has replaced Suzannah McFerran as Program Coordinator for the Cambridge Weekend Backpack Program. She’ll be helping Alanna to order, pack, and distribute food and will work with Rindge School of Technical Arts chefs to expand their Food Justice curriculum. We are excited by her energy and focus on the issue of food justice and sustainability and how that will shape the program for the future!

  • John Haak has replaced Veronica Barron as part of the Development team. As Development Assistant, he’ll be the new voice of our social media. Say “hi” to him at the Empty Bowls event on April 22!

  • Sarah Adkins started on February 2 in the new position of Operations Coordinator. Sarah will provide an all-important link between our Food Rescue operations and our direct-service programs, like the School Markets, helping to ensure that these programs get the food and other resources they need to run smoothly.

  • And, finally, Amy Starzec joined Family Meals on February 7 as Program Coordinator. Previously a volunteer with the program, Amy will be helping Fiona to turn rescued prepared food into delicious single-serving meals at the Christ Church kitchen.
Somerville Family Learning Collaborative Liaisons

We’ve been growing.

Family Meals has started delivering meals to: Food Rescue is now serving:
  • Cambridge School Volunteers after-school homework help program. Once a week, we bring fresh fruit so that students can concentrate on their homework instead of their hunger.
And is about to start rescuing food from: And, finally, we’ve been in the news.
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Spotlight on: Somerville Family Learning Collaborative

Everyone at Food For Free is really pleased to be reaching more students and families with our Family Meals program this year. One of our newest distribution partners is the Somerville Family Learning Collaborative (SFLC). Family Meals Program Manager Fiona Crimmins started working with SFLC last October.

Food For Free recently chatted with Meghan Bouchard about this great program and the new partnership with Food For Free.

Food For Free: Tell us about yourself. What is your role?

My name is Meghan Bouchard and I am the Program Liaison for the Somerville Family Learning Collaborative (SFLC) which is the Family and Community Engagement Department of the Somerville Public Schools.

Tell us a bit about your program. Does it have a name? Who does it serve?

The SFLC runs programming that supports Somerville families, birth to adulthood. We have support groups for new parents/guardians, playgroups for families with young children, a home visiting program focused on early literacy skills, workshops on topics such as curriculum and learning or nutrition and wellness, English Classes for parents/guardians of Somerville Public School students, and more. 

The program I work most closely with is our multilingual team of Family and Community Liaisons who work with families at each Somerville Public School to help welcome families and connect them to school and community resources.

When and why was the program created? What need were you responding to? What problem were you trying to address?

The SFLC Liaison program, now in its fifth year, has worked hard to respond to school and family needs, and the issue of food security has always been in the forefront. The SFLC is now in its second year collaborating with the Somerville Backpack Program, also a partner of Food for Free, and now, in working with the Family Meals Program, we have been able to add to our capacity to meet the needs of the families we work with.

Somerville Family Learning Collaborative Liaisons
The Somerville Family Learning Collaborative Liaisons

What results are you seeing so far?

Between the Somerville High School Welcome Center and the SFLC office, we are so thankful to have Family Meals available for students and families who are dealing with food insecurity.  The meals are on hand and available to families and students we reach out to or who come to us for support.

 Any stories you’d like to share?

This year alone, the SFLC has worked with numerous families in crisis situations, and we are thankful to have the Family Meals program as a resource for those in need.

Thank you, Meghan! We're so grateful for your work with Somerville Families and your partnership with Food For Free. Have students at the Somerville schools and want to connect with the SFLC? Find your liaison here.
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And an Operations Coordinator!

Food For Free is hiring a part-time Operations Coordinator to 1) provide logistical support to Food For Free programs, including school markets and Family Meals; 2) rescue and deliver food; and 3) provide administrative support to the Operations Director. This position is 20 hours/week, pays $15/hour, and reports to the Operations Director.

Key Responsibilities Include:

Food Rescue and Delivery
  • Rescue food from supermarkets and other locations to deliver to recipient agencies.
  • Rescue produce from farmers’ markets (seasonal)
  • Fill in for other drivers in the event of absence
Program Support
  • School Markets
    • Coordinate and deliver rescued bread, purchased produce, and other food items
    • Coordinate Greater Boston Food Bank order with Program Director
    • Provide day-of support for school markets
  • Family Meals
    • Coordinate with Family Meals Program Manager to develop and maintain an efficient stock rotation protocol
    • Deliver and pickup food for Family Meals Administrative Support
    • Prepare reports and invoices
    • Maintain monthly food tracking spreadsheet

Skills & Qualifications
  • Commitment to social justice, and food justice in particular
  • Personal honesty and integrity
  • Maturity and sound judgment
  • A high level of organization and time-management skills
  • Ability to juggle multiple projects
  • Attention to detail
  • Proficiency with Microsoft Office products, including Word and Excel
  • Ability to work occasional nights and weekends
  • Valid driver’s license with clean driving record
  • Ability to lift up to 50 lbs. repeatedly
  • Previous experience operating commercial vehicles (up to 26,000 lbs.GVW) or willingness to learn to operate vehicle type on narrow city streets and in traffic conditions
  • Willingness to work in all weather conditions in all seasons, including inclement weather, extreme heat and cold
  • Experience or willingness to learn to operate pallet jack.
  • Must be able to utilize mobile devices for daily record keeping

How to apply

To apply, please send cover letter and resume to Ryan Lee at operations@foodforfree.org.
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