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Dr. Laurel Kearns of Drew University in New Jersey appears on this episode of Table Talk.

For this episode of Table Talk, Table to Table’s Volunteer Manager Stephanie Conley-Webb interviewed Dr. Laurel Kearns of Drew University. Dr. Kearns is associate professor of sociology of religion and environmental studies at Drew.

“What we don’t think about is what happens to what doesn’t get eaten. A tremendous food waste is that we only want to buy perfect things so things that aren’t perfect, just a generation or two ago would have been gladly eaten don’t even make it to our stores,” Kearns said.

For more Table Talk episodes, visit our YouTube channel.

As New Jersey’s first and largest food rescue, our mission is to reduce food waste and provide nourishment to our food-insecure neighbors throughout North Jersey. We rescue millions of pounds of fresh food annually that would otherwise be wasted and deliver it to partner organizations who support the nearly 1 million people in our area who need it most.

Together, we can reduce food waste in our home and make a positive impact on the planet. Every little bit of effort—no matter how small–leads to change.  

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“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.”

“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.”

-ANONYMOUS

“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.”

-Kara

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.