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Mark Dinglasan of the NJ Office of the Food Security Advocate Keynoted the Conference

May 23, 2024 – Saddle Brook, NJTable to Table, New Jersey’s first food rescue, hosted its first-ever Partners in Good Health Conference at the Lodi campus of Felician University. The food rescue nonprofit, which celebrates its 25th anniversary, welcomed community partners from across northern New Jersey for a day of networking and learning, featuring subject matter experts from top health organizations along with community leaders, imparting critical insights about nutrition, health, and well-being. Mark Dinglasan, Director of the New Jersey Office of the Food Security Advocate, provided the keynote address. For information, click here.

“Creating Table to Table’s Partners in Good Health Conference – an opportunity to bring our community partners together in one space – has long been a dream of ours, and it’s fitting that it took place in our 25th anniversary year,” said Heather Thompson, Executive Director, Table to Table. “The event has allowed us to learn from local experts, and from each other, as we explore the critical connection between food and health. By sharing best practices across our network, we can strengthen our support system to create better health for our neighbors,” Thompson concluded.

Topics featured during the Conference included: County Support & Services, Heart & Mind Wellness, and Innovative Programs, featuring a cross-county panel. Speakers represented such notable organizations such as the American Heart Association, Diabetes Foundation, the United Way of Greater Newark, and the Bergen County Office of Food Security.  A complete list can be found here.

“I applaud Table to Table for holding its first-ever Partners in Good Health Conference. Multi-sector partnerships that focus on combatting hunger as a public health and economic mobility issue are crucial to food security work,” said Mark Dinglasan, Director of the New Jersey Office of the Food Security Advocate. “This event showcases not only Table to Table’s ability to participate in such partnerships, but also to build, nurture and sustain them. I look forward to continuing to support and witness the organization’s growth and evolution under Heather Thompson,” Dinglasan concluded.

Sponsors for Table to Table’s Partners in Good Health Conference included: Felician University, Horizon, Dorfman Abrams Music Accountants & Advisors, ShopRite Inserra Supermarkets Inc., Jersey Mike’s (Bloomfield & West Orange), and Premium Digital Office Solutions.

For 25 years, Table to Table, New Jersey’s first food rescue, has bridged the gap for local neighbors in need by reducing food waste, sustaining those who are struggling, and contributing to their better health outcomes. We recognize the vital role that fresh food plays in nourishing not only the body, but also the spirit and mind.

To help Table to Table in their mission to reduce food waste and address food insecurity in New Jersey, you can make a donation today – every dollar you contribute provides resources for the organization to rescue and deliver food for 10 healthy meals. For more information on Table to Table, visit www.tabletotable.org.

About Table to Table

What began in 1999 with one food rescue in a donated van, has flourished to become an efficient and impactful operation and a force for change that—to date—has resulted in the rescue and delivery of enough food for over 311 million healthy meals throughout northern New Jersey. To mark this milestone, the nonprofit has set a goal of rescuing/delivering enough fresh food for 25 million meals this year, via its fleet of 6 trucks and volunteer-based app, Table to Table I-Rescue. Visit Table to Table’s “Drive for 25” for 25 fun, easy and actionable ways to celebrate and drive impact!

Press Contact:

Maria Sinopoli, Director of Marketing Communications

msinopoli@tabletotable.org

Never underestimate the power of kids and the force for good they can be.

More than 100 second-graders from Anna C. Scott Elementary School in Leonia donated 665 lbs. of fresh fruits and vegetables to Table to Table during a special assembly recently — enough food for dozens of individuals to enjoy.

The kids thought of Table to Table while developing a way of how they could have a positive impact on those around them. At first, they were just going to create posters about the need to donate food to a local nonprofit. But they realized they wanted to do more. They wanted to actually give something. They contacted Table to Table after researching local food-based nonprofits and connected with our mission of rescuing nutritious food to help feed our hungry neighbors.

“It became so much bigger than I anticipated it would. The students were amazing. I’m so proud of them,” said Vanessa Franceschini, a second grade teacher at the school.

Table to Table brought the produce to Never Alone Again Resource Center, a nonprofit domestic violence resource organization in Teaneck, where it was immediately distributed to community members.

“I’m so thankful for Table to Table because they are one of our main sources of fresh produce, vegetables and fruits, that our families can have right away,” said Theresa Johnston, CEO and Founder of Never Alone Again.

25 Million Pounds — And Counting

This rescue bring us closer to meeting this year’s goal of rescuing 25 million lbs. of nutritious food. For more information about Table to Table’s Drive for 25 initiative, visit https://tabletotable.org/drive-for-25/. Together, we can reduce food waste in our home and make a positive impact on the planet.

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Table Talk Episode 3 With Dr. Laurel Kearns

Q & A With Table to Table’s Julie Kinner

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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Groups and individuals alike can help neighbors in need. Here are ways Bergenites can donate time, resources and supplies.

Remember when Mom used to scold you when you didn’t finish dinner? “There are starving kids who could’ve eaten that,” she’d remark after we tossed uneaten bread and veggies into the trash.

Mom’s message is partially behind the mission of global Stop Food Waste Day, April 24, a day that brings awareness of and promotes solutions to food waste. For example, did you know, 33 percent of all food produced globally is lost or wasted every single year? And just a quarter of the food wasted globally could be used to feed the 795 million undernourished people in the world, says Compass Group USA, which started Stop Food Waste Day in 2017.

Locally, nonprofit groups like Saddle Brook-based Table to Table has been doing its part to help combat food waste. As one of its many initiatives, the organization collects fresh, nutritious and perishable food — from restaurants, grocery stores and other businesses — that would otherwise be discarded and wasted. Volunteers then deliver the food for free to groups that serve residents in need throughout Bergen County and neighboring communities.

Individual Efforts Help Too.

It’s not just companies that can help feed hungry neighbors —individuals also can get involved. Celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2024, Table to Table recently launched its I-Rescue App, powered by Food Rescue Hero. The handy tech tool allows volunteers to help rescue and deliver fresh food to those facing food insecurity.

What are other ways you can help on Stop Food Waste Day (or any other day)? Table to Table has a checklist of 25 ways you can join the initiative. The list includes:

Those who want to and have the resources to help can also donate non-perishable items to Bergen County’s many food pantries and shelters. While giving usually happens around the end-of-year holidays, spring and summer are critical times because donations tend to drop off.

Credit: https://www.healthandlifemags.com/pitch-in-against-food-insecurity/

We sat down and had a conversation with Vice President of Operations Julie Kinner, who keeps our trucks on the road and volunteers rescuing food, about the I-Rescue app, and how you can use it to help deliver nutritious food and help feed our neighbors in need.

Tell us about Table to Table I-Rescue 

Table to Table I-Rescue is an entirely volunteer-driven app that allows people to pick up nutritious food from grocery stores, restaurants, and events that would otherwise be wasted and deliver it to our recipient partners who then distribute it to our food-insecure neighbors. 

The idea of our App came about in 2020, when everyone was scrambling to provide the best solutions for the astronomically high hunger and food insecurity rates caused by Covid. We were contacted by the Russell Berrie Foundation, who shared with us some technology-based food rescue solutions they were seeing in other regions. After much research on the concept, Table to Table decided to partner with Pittsburgh-based Food Rescue Hero, a technology platform that enables a scalable impact on food waste, food insecurity, and climate change.

The Russell Berrie funded a grant for staff support and subsequent maintenance of the App. During this time, the Bergen County Food Access Task Force was also forming, and they stepped in to provide additional support. That’s how Table to Table I-Rescue was launched!

It’s been wildly successful! Since we launched, more than 350 volunteers have completed more than 9,600 rescues and delivered more than 2 million pounds of donated food that would have been thrown away.

How do I sign up to volunteer? 

It’s super simple. Just download the Table to Table I-Rescue app on your phone to become a food rescue hero! You’ll complete a simple registration process and volunteer agreement, and then you can get started. The app walks you through every step! 

Step 1: Download and Register 

Step 2: Claim a Rescue (Turn on notifications, and check the app daily for available rescues) 

Step 3: Pick up food within the designated time window (Address, contact person, and instructions are provided). 

Step 4: Travel to receiving organization (We do all the “pairing” so you’ll know exactly where you’re delivering to).  

Step 5: Deliver donation, and have someone at the recipient agency sign off on the delivery. Easy Peasy! 

What do I need to become a food rescue hero? 

You only need our Table to Table I-Rescue app downloaded onto your phone, a driver’s license, and an insured vehicle. We have high school students who are not able to drive yet but are asking their parents to drive for them. Families are signing up together and doing the rescues. Retired folks are taking on weekday rescues as part of daily errands and outings. It’s so great to receive pictures and stories from them. Each volunteer is truly impacted by the rescue and come back for more! 

Where can I find rescues and how can I claim one? 

All rescues are posted on our Table to Table I-Rescue app. You can find them on the “Available Rescues” tab, a map will be shown with one-time and weekly rescues, or you can switch to list view (in the upper right corner of the screen) to see available rescues in chronological order. Take a look at what works with your schedule and location, identify the rescue you’re interested in, click on “View Rescue” to see details, and then “Claim This Rescue.”   

What happens after I claim a rescue? 

All your claimed rescues will be moved to the “My Rescues” tab, which you can find on the top left hand-corner of the app. Once you are ready to begin the rescue you will click on “start,” then you will find all the necessary information to complete the rescue including address, points of contacts, estimated amounts, time, etc. The app will walk you through the whole process of your food rescue journey. But if you have any questions or face any issues you can call 551-255-6884. Please be aware that you can always go back to the “My Rescues” page to “Resume” your rescue if you leave the app for any reason. 

What is the difference between a “one-time” and “weekly” rescue? 

Weekly rescues occur on the same day, time, and frequency (i.e. every Monday at 10 am), and on the same route (donor and non-profit partner.) If you claim a weekly rescue as a volunteer, you can always request a “sub” if something comes up and you aren’t able to make it. 

One-time rescues or pop-up rescues occur on an as-needed basis. These are not at pre-determined days and times. When you claim a one-time rescue, you’re committing your time for that one rescue only. You can always check the app for more rescues. 

Can I volunteer just once, or will I need to commit to a schedule? 

You are free to volunteer as often or as little as you would like. If you don’t want to commit to a set schedule, you can claim a one-time rescue. If you would like a set schedule, then weekly rescues are the right fit for you. You can also request a sub if you can’t complete a rescue. 

Is there an age requirement to volunteer? 

Volunteers of all ages are welcome to volunteer in our food rescue program. However, the driver must have a valid driver’s license, and a valid vehicle registration and insurance. 

Do I need a large vehicle for food rescues?

No, a large vehicle is not required to complete a food rescue. Any car size is adequate to complete a food rescue. Before claiming a rescue, you can see the estimated amount of food that is being donated to help ensure your vehicle has the capacity to transport the donation. If you get to the donor location and there is too much food for your car, just let the app dispatcher know and we will schedule another rescue immediately. 

If I run into a problem on a food rescue, who can I contact?

You can contact Kharin at 551-255-6884 during the week, and on the weekends, contact Rosalia at 551-352-0354. The same contact information is also displayed in the app. 

We’re so excited for you to get started with Table to Table I-Rescue and join our growing team of Food Rescue Heroes! 

Food Rescue Hero, the organization that powers our I-Rescue app, hosted an informative webinar about reducing food waste recently. Stephanie Miller, author of “Zero Waste Living The 80/20 Way,” outlined practical steps you can start taking today to reduce the amount of food that gets thrown out in the average home.

Together, we can have a positive impact on the planet. By rescuing fresh, nutritious food that would otherwise go to a landfill, we are able to not only feed food insecure neighbors but also help the environment.

Forty percent of the United States’ food goes uneaten — that’s more than 220 pounds per person! By rescuing the excess food, we can provide countless meals for hungry children and families while preserving our environment. 

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 Northern New Jersey. Each year, we rescue millions of pounds of fresh food 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.

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