“We give food packages to 200-300 folks per week. What I see changing with the addition of the Table to Table food is the experience that our people have in line. In the beginning, they were strangers next to strangers. As time has passed, relationships are forming. A community is starting to form. They are helping each other. They carry food to each other cars, they are asking about family members and sharing stories. The are creating a new community; moving from proximity to intimacy. That is powerful. As people come for food, they have found so much more than that. The cold weather has brought them into the warm church, where we give them food that heals them physically and spiritually. You are Table to Table, we are people to people. Thank you from the new community here at Clear Way Baptist.”
“It’s a struggle. I’ve been raising my kids for the past three and a half years by myself. My husband passed away and this is the biggest help that anyone can get. I know it’s hard to make that money stretch and we see a lot of working poor. You know, rents are so high in Paterson, so it’s either you have to pay your rent and pay your bills or, pay your rent and feed your children.”
“Table to Table themselves have been such a collaborative, I can’t even begin to explain. It’s been a friend. And, let me tell you, it’s been a resource.
When I say a resource, I can tell you that some of these elderly people –
I said to one of them (she’s 97,) I said ‘Mother, why are you laughing’ She said ‘I’ve never, ever had a porterhouse steak!’
If Table to Table wasn’t here, I couldn’t make it. The survival rate of this pantry would go down tremendously and when I say that, you can’t get the frozen meats and especially, the quality of the frozen meats. You can’t get the holistic dinners with mashed potatoes, beef and sting beans – you can’t get that. You can’t get the cooked chickens.
When a parent or family gets burned out (like the house right next door that got burned out) they needed food, but something they could microwave. You couldn’t get any of that at the food bank, but you could get it from Table to Table.”
“Small children like my son are a little picky about what they eat, and when he sees what his father and I are eating he wants what we eat. So if I can get my hands on fresh fruit, fresh produce, things like that you know, even the canned fruits and stuff, I can have that and then he gets it. I don’t have to go and get (and I can’t afford) those little jars of baby food and it’s so much better to give him fresh food. So it means a lot to me to have that, and give him stuff that’s fresh.
Right now I am in school, I am not working. I am looking for work and you know, trying to get an education, so this helps us with the finances being what they are. This helps us get by, with me in school and the amount of benefits you get, you know, and rent has doubled. I moved away from this area and came back and rent has tripled in some cases. If I didn’t have the food pantry and had to take money away, I would be facing eviction – that’s the difference between paying my electric bill and buying food. We need both.
But if I didn’t have these kinds of places around, I don’t know what I would do. We are on our own. I don’t have brothers and sisters, I am an only child. A lot of people say “lean to your family”. Places like this are what a big family would be doing. Both my parents work. They struggle themselves. So if I didn’t have these places I would be up the creek!
I am thankful for it. For me, I was just being a Mommy and facing the problem and now that he is old enough, he can go to Day Care. And with other assistance that is available I am attending college now, so I am back in school, learning how to cook food like this. Gotta do it though, you know? I mean for my little guy. So without doing that, I’d have to work at a Burger King and that wouldn’t pay the right kind of money, so I am trying to get a better education and get a better job. So hopefully, one day, I won’t need places like this.
But for now, I do.”
When Table to Table was first contacted by the Evangelical Pentacostal Church in Union City, they did not have a food pantry. Karla, a part time employee of the church was using her own money to feed the teens that were coming to an evening program at the church. Karla reached out to Table to Table because her own funds were running low and she was no longer able to feed the hungry teens.
Now, with Table to Table delivering perishable food to the church each week, they have found that by adding a food pantry they are not only providing dinner for the teens and food for their parishioners, but they are feeding a large amount of community members that are not part of their congregation and are stepping foot into church for the first time. The pantry has expanded their mission in ways they never expected and for that they are very thankful.
For 23 years, Paterson Police Athletic League (PAL) has been taking children off of the streets of Paterson and teaching them, no, guiding them, to a better life. Agostino Feola has been at the helm since the very beginning. Agostino, or Augie as he is called, is a teacher and a mentor to not only the students but the volunteers who were once students themselves.
Boys and girls, ages 9 to 17, complete a rigorous 10-week training program where they learn all about law enforcement. The program’s model is that of a military academy where students are given the opportunity to meet representatives from the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines. They work with local law officials including police, swat, firemen, county sheriffs and detectives. Their behavior and performance is supervised both at school and at home. They are expected to act with respect in all aspects of their lives.
Table to Table has been delivering food to PAL each week for the past several years. We deliver fruit and vegetables, some prepared food, meat and desserts. Parent volunteers use the food to prepare weekly dinners and weekend lunches in the small kitchen on premise. When we visited one Saturday, the kids were enjoying a lunch of empanadas, handmade with beef we had delivered that week.
The Paterson Police Athletic League is a model to be duplicated; helping children find their way off the streets to succeed not only in school but beyond. We are impressed and gratified by their achievements and are thrilled to be able to partner with them – making a difference in young lives by way of consistent, nutritious meals.
We are all wired to do good. Our volunteers just keep doing it week on week off, and it’s because they want to. And that gives me hope in the world. In cities all across the country, there are thousands of volunteers who are rescuing food, fresh food that’s being diverted away from landfills in an effort to feed people. And it’s all made possible through apps like Food Rescue Hero, founded by food advocate Leia Lizarondo.
How did food recovery become a passion for you? I read this report that said that we are wasting 40% of our food. 40%? Yes. In this country. In this country. And it’s enough food to feed everyone who’s hungry four times over. Launched in 2016, the Food Rescue Hero platform supports food recovery organizations in the US and Canada to help coordinate donations from local retailers. It then mobilizes volunteers to redistribute the food to communities in need. Just last year, their network of partners recovered over 50 million pounds of food.
It’s like any food delivery app that we use. They get alerted of surplus food where it’s happening, and they can say, “Oh, that is close to me. I’ll take it.” Usually a rescue can be done in some as quick as 20 minutes, mostly under an hour. The app aims to tackle food insecurity and climate change, where food waste makes up 8% of greenhouse gas emissions. It’s the number one component in landfills. If food waste were a country, it will be the third largest emitter of greenhouse gases, third only to the US and China.
When you think about how much food waste there is, do you think it’s a solvable problem? It’s an absolutely solvable problem. We are also, unfortunately, one of the biggest causes of food waste. When we go to the supermarket, when we go to the milk aisle, we go to the back of it and not take the ones in front. I feel so clean. I mean, everyone does it. If we change those behaviors, it will lessen the instance of food waste in the first place. Food Rescue Hero is also creating community.
You use the word hero as opposed to volunteers. Why? Because they are. And we always think of Heroes as it has to be this big act, but I think the real heroic thing is doing something every single day, as often as you can. No one sees it, and you’re just doing it. So then can I become a food rescue hero? Absolutely. Now, I would love to introduce Colleen to you. She’s one of our amazing food Rescue Heroes. Can I rescue with you? Absolutely. Show me how this works.
You just go to the app. We’re going to claim the rescue, and we get in the car and we start moving. Okay. Today’s rescue picking up prepared foods from a local hospital. Just pick it up. Just pick it up. It’s amazing. Meatloaf, chicken, squash. So you work. You’ve got three kids. Why do this? I see the need for it, and I want to emulate it for my kids. And this simple task, 30 minutes, maybe an hour out of my day, is going to help feed our neighbors.
Final stop Oasis, a social services organization that serves women and children in Patterson, New Jersey. I just want to say thank you. The fresh fruits and produce that you bring are absolutely gold to our community here, who really don’t have access to that. I’m so happy he, like, introduced it to me. This is so wonderful. It’s brilliant. It’s such a great idea. So a Food Rescue Hero is working to
Copyright ©2023 The Today Show. All rights reserved.
The Harrison School Student Council has supported the “Bag a Lunch, Help a Bunch” initiative of Table to Table for the past seven years. Recently, the Tribune interviewed four members of the Student Council’s executive board, advisors, and the school principal, Daniel Garcia, to learn more about their efforts to provide meals for the hungry.
According to Garcia, Harrison Elementary raised enough funds this year to provide 9,100 meals for those in need. The fundraiser is crucial because many people do not have enough food to eat, as fifth-grader Anushka Nikhil explained. The students collect a considerable amount of money, with one dollar providing up to ten meals.
Fifth-grader Johanna Saland noted that helping others and making them happy is the primary motivation behind the fundraiser. Fourth-grader Ruhi Biswas added that it is essential to help those who are struggling when you have more than enough.
The director of marketing communications for Table to Table, Maria Sinopoli, expressed gratitude to the students for their contributions. She emphasized that their efforts helped get food to people who desperately needed it.
Despite the pandemic, the Bag a Lunch project continued with a few adjustments, according to Student Council advisor Lauren Daugherty. They used a QR code for virtual donations and set up a landing page for families to contribute.
To raise awareness, the Student Council representatives visited classrooms and explained the organization’s needs and objectives. They distributed brown bags to collect donations and put up posters to inform people of the fundraiser’s purpose. The students also gave speeches about the impact of their donations on the community.
Table to Table is a “Food Rescue” organization that collects surplus fresh and nutritious food from grocery stores, caterers, and distributors. They distribute the food to various organizations such as veteran’s homes, day care centers, and soup kitchens.
The Student Council also visited the Livingston Neighbors Helping Neighbors food pantry, where they made sandwiches, decorated bags, and organized food items.
Looking ahead, the Student Council plans to brainstorm their next community service project. The advisors suggested that the project should aim to help the Harrison community and school family.
Individuals, business employees, and students can donate the equivalent of their lunch money to the “Bag a Lunch, Help a Bunch” initiative to help feed the hungry. For more information, visit www.tabletotable.org.
Copyright ©2023 West Essex Tribune. All rights reserved.