A History Steeped in Alleviating Hunger in Northern New Jersey
A Small yet Mighty Beginning
Table to Table, New Jersey’s first & only food rescue program, was founded in 1999 by Claire Insalata Poulos with the support of a small, passionate group of volunteers, chefs, restaurateurs and guidance from City Harvest (NYC). What began with one donated van, four food donors and three agencies that served hungry neighbors, quickly developed into NJ’s first and only food rescue program consistently recognized for more than a decade with Charity Navigator’s 4-star rating. Within months, Table to Table distributed 5,000 fresh, nutritious meals, feeding the hungry in Bergen County.
Generous Partners Stepped Up
The key to our operation has always been efficiency and effectiveness, enabling us to feed the greatest number of people with the freshest, most nutritious food. The power of partnerships of fresh food donations from grocers like Whole Foods Market in Edgewater, community-based agencies that distribute food to the hungry such as Good Shepherd Mission and generous financial partners such as American Express allowed us to quickly evolve. Accomplished chefs, passionate about providing meals for those in need and avoiding food waste, also brought their expertise and generosity to the table.
All the food that Table to Table distributes goes to economically disadvantaged people who are living at or below the poverty level in Essex, Hudson, Bergen and Passaic counties in northern NJ. It is delivered to local nonprofits benefitting every age group, gender, ethnicity, and vulnerable population, with an emphasis on families, children and senior adults.
A Growing Force for Good
Each year, Table to Table operations grew to the present where we have a fleet of 7 refrigerated trucks picking up fresh food from 200 donors and delivering it to more than 250 community partners. To date, we have delivered over 227 million meals and prevented 71,500 tons of food from ending up in landfills.
Feeding Families in Northern New Jersey
In response to the overwhelming need in Essex County, Table to Table expanded its footprint into Newark, leading to the annual distribution of 12 million meals, along with the creation of our first Fresh Produce Market Network, a no-cost market for no/low-income residents in the Ironbound section of the city, a neighborhood recognized as a food desert. The success of the ICC Fresh Produce Market resulted in additional markets serving the growing number of people experiencing homelessness, seniors, women and children and other populations in need.
Because fresh produce markets were not enough to address the growing needs of the community, Table to Table established a network of centralized distribution hubs (Newark, Bayonne, Jersey City and Paterson) administered by either schools or local community organizations. Combining our original model with the Market and Hub Network allowed us to provide 40 million meals to date. This is accomplished without charging fees of any sort and maintaining an internal cost to our organization of 10 cents per meal. We raise all of our money without government funding. And, in the true spirit of a community-based program, it is the unwavering support from all of our partners that maximizes our impact.