How did you get started in anti-hunger work?
“I ran for school committee in Somerville, and one of the things I was hearing while knocking on doors was, 'What are your plans to help kids who are hungry?' I didn’t have an answer.”Ross didn’t win the election, but found that this question stuck with him. So he attended a Food Security Coalition Meeting and got pointed toward Alanna Mallon, founder of the Cambridge Weekend Backpack Program:
“Alanna basically said, ‘I’m doing this backpack program [in Cambridge] and it’s awesome and why don’t you do it [in Somerville]?’”
“So I met with the Superintendent and the Mayor’s office. We did a pilot program in May and June of 2014, basically to prove to folks that once you start it, it’s gonna be awesome. And when the Neighborhood Children’s Foundation came on board as our fiscal sponsor, I was able to move the backpack project out of my kitchen, much to my fiancée’s happiness.”The Somerville Backpack Program currently serves three Somerville schools every Friday, delivering bags of nutritious food, including breakfast, lunch, snack and…fresh fruit, provided by Food For Free! Ross is also no stranger to other forms of social justice and organizing work: he’s an alumnus of The City School’s programs for youth empowerment and social justice in Dorchester, and served as student body president for 25,000 students while earning his degree at DePaul University. Prior to coming to Food For Free, Ross was the Communications Director at the Massachusetts State House for The Joint Committee on Higher Education.
What excites you about your new role at Food For Free?
“I’m excited to learn things about the emergency food system, and learn from the experience of others. I’m passionate about solving problems that help people, and food is so universal—one of the most basic issues.”
“I think that what we’re doing is the future of hunger relief: taking excess healthy food and getting it to people in a way that’s convenient to them. If you’re a single mom with two kids, a soup kitchen at 7 at night at a church is not convenient. So how do we meet people where they are?”We’re delighted to have Ross on board—welcome, Ross!