By Jenny Roe
Volunteers at Farm to Freezer are an eclectic group, coming from all different backgrounds, varying ages and experiences. Some volunteers are retired while others work full time, some are mothers and mothers to be, and there are those who have not even completed college or high school. The one thing that all of the volunteers have in common is their enthusiasm for working hard to support our community. Every weekend the kitchen in Silver Spring’s Woodside United Methodist Church is filled with 5-8 eager beavers waiting to wash, chop, blanch, bake, and package fresh, local produce. I have spent the past five weeks getting to know various people and hearing their stories about life and their interests. I thought it would be interesting to share some of these encounters so people can see how ANYBODY is welcome to get involved with Farm to Freezer and make a real difference.
Steve cleans some eggplant.
My first week in the kitchen was the most memorable because of the people working along side of me. There was a retired dentist and his wife who are extremely generous with their time as they volunteer with multiple organizations in the community and a mother with her 16 year-old son, Avi. He was looking for a meaningful way to spend his time this summer. It made me think about how I spent my teenage summers, usually traveling or being lazy with friends, I wish I had thought to donate some of my time to a good cause back then. I have so much respect for his hard work and amazing commitment to making a difference. Avi has returned to the kitchen several times and plans on continuing to help until school starts.
by: Jenny Roe
Ever since I heard Cheryl’s inspiring speech at the TedX Manhattan event last February, I have been looking forward to spending my weekends in the kitchen with Farm to Freezer. I recently graduated with my Master’s from the University of Edinburgh, where I focused my studies on food systems, in particular sustainable food systems from supporting local farmers to reducing food waste to increasing access to fresh, healthy food. So when I moved back home to Bethesda it seemed obvious that Farm to Freezer would be a perfect place for me to meet like-minded people and it would be chance to actively start changing our flawed food system. While I have spent the past few months writing blog posts and learning a bit about the logistics of Farm to Freezer, it was not until last Sunday that I had my first hands-on experience. I was inspired. Continue reading
by: Cheryl Kollin
We launched Farm to Freezer this weekend! After many months in the planning, it was great to see so many friendly faces and supporters come out on our first weekend. On Saturday, we purchased surplus produce from Spiral Path Organic Farm and on Sunday, from Bethesda Central Farm Market. We are getting comfortable in our new kitchen, thanks to a wonderful collaboration with the Woodside United Methodist Church, that has a strong hunger relief mission. Continue reading
Blogging about the issues that Farm to Freezer tackles has made me more conscious of the environmental impacts of individual purchasing choices we, as consumers make every day.
I recently dedicated an entire post to food waste since the Natural Resources Defense Council’s (NRDC) Report “Wasted” found that Americans throw away 40% of our food annually. This amount of wasted food is not only shocking because so many people in our country suffer from food insecurity. In addition it is a huge waste of energy and water, leading to greater amounts of methane gas emitted into landfills. As Farm to Freezer continues to redirect surplus produce in farmers markets from landfills to frozen, healthy meals for the underserved population, it is reducing the amount of resources wasted and emissions polluting the earth. Think about the ripple effects, the next time you buy too many carrots and they end up in the trash. According to a study by Raz Godelnik, “Americans Feel Guilty About Wasting Food But Will That Change Anything?”, we are ashamed by the amount of food we waste in this country. In fact, the study found 39% of Americans feel guilt, however this is clearly not enough motivation as we continue to fill out trash cans with food waste. How might you reduce your food waste? Continue reading
Learning From the Past to Build a Better Future
Farm to Freezer could have written the following passage from A Place at the Table, a newly released book and documentary that examines the problem of hunger and food insecurity in America while also providing possible solutions.
“The approach was: since we have an agricultural surplus and it is imperative to help farmers get by, we might as well make sure that surplus gets to the families who are hungry. It was the perfect combination of good intentions and good sense, or empathy and economics.”
Food Waste: We are the Problem and the Solution
It is difficult to picture mountains of food rotting in landfills across the country when one in six Americans is food insecure, living each day not knowing what their next meal will be. How about thinking of it in terms of dollars? The food in these piles add up to $165 billion a year. Therefore, we are spending $165 billion on food that is never consumed. According to the report recently published by the NRDC, “Waste: How America is Losing Up to 40 Percent of Its Food from Farm to Fork to Landfill”, this is the reality in America right now.
Farm to Freezer Debuts on National Stage
What a thrill it was to share the New York stage with famous food experts, respected CEOs, and budding entrepreneurs! On February 16th, we gathered for the TEDxManhattan Conference to talk about “Changing the Way We Eat”. The New York audience of 350 people was joined by 70 local viewing parties and an estimated 20,000 people worldwide via webcast. Thanks to an outpouring vote of support for Farm to Freezer, I won the 2013 TEDxManhattan speaker challenge and was awarded the honor of presenting our new social enterprise at this venue. You can view my presentation from this link .
As Jill Bamburg, dean of my business school, the Bainbridge Graduate Institute, advised, “get ready for your 12 minutes of fame and use them wisely!” I had a lot to say in those 12 minutes—time strictly enforced, and not much time to explain how we solved the twin problems of having excess donated fresh produce and providing healthier meals to feed the homeless. Continue reading