Posted by Bernice Behar

Focus on FoodFamily Table is proud to work with several vendors that are dedicated to food rescue. Food rescue organizations help mitigate waste of food that either cannot be sold from grocers or cannot be harvested in farmers' fields. It has been estimated that more than 96 billion pounds of wholesome and delicious food is wasted each day (source: USDA). This equates to as much as 40% of the available food supply in the United States (source: Nation Resource Defense Council).

Grocery stores may dispose of perfectly good items because they are near the end of their shelf life or due to a change in packaging. In the fields, farmers are sometimes unable to harvest an entire crop on a timely basis. In such situations food rescue organizations step in to connect the unwanted product to grateful food pantries and soup kitchens.

Since 2010, Family Table has been working with Lovin' Spoonfuls, which channels unsalable supermarket products to organizations such as ours. On the flipside, we also occasionally have produce leftover from one of our distributions and we are able to give that to Lovin' Spoonfuls to bring to another food pantry or soup kitchen that can put it to use right away.

Last summer we also began working with Boston Area Gleaners (BAG), whose volunteers work with local farmers to harvest surplus crops. During the summer and fall months we are in close contact with BAG and whenever they harvest or glean from a field, they give us a call. As I write this, we are expecting a delivery of just picked squash and carrots, which we will bring to the next North Shore distribution. An additional benefit to Family Table is that these items come to us at only a nominal charge to offset the Gleaner's transportation expense. The result is that we have significantly reduced the amount of money spent on produce over these last two years.

With the support of these organizations, Family Table saves money and is able to offer a variety of products that would otherwise go to waste, including fresh, local, organic fruits and vegetables—truly a win-win situation.

bernice beharBernice Behar is the Program Manager for Family Table, the largest kosher food pantry serving Greater Boston and the North Shore. She joined JF&CS in 2010 having spent many years working in the financial industry as a chartered financial analyst and investment manager. Bernice brings to Family Table a passion for helping people access nutritious food and a dedication to working in the Jewish community. She is an active board member at her synagogue and holds a BA from the University of California Berkeley.