Chef Partners Share Their Story 

Creativity is key to stretching budgets and taking advantage of good, free food.

How do you keep over 2.4 million lbs of wholesome, edible food from going to waste every year? You count on partnerships with organizations that can deliver this food directly to people who need it. Table to Table volunteers to pick up food and deliver it to more than 50 agencies that serve hungry, homeless, and at-risk populations in Johnson County. That’s estimated to be 2 million meals delivered in the form of groceries or prepared and served by the staff of those agencies. Table to Table has 40 routes per week that pick up from many different types of donors. Restaurants, bakeries, hospitals, food warehouses — volunteers arrive not knowing what they will be loading in the vans. It also means the organizations won’t know exactly what food they will be getting when the van stops at their location.

Dairy, meat, produce or baked goods, kitchen managers and chefs work with what they receive to plan menus and meals for the people they serve every day. These organizations are a model of flexibility and creativity which enables them to use just about anything that may be delivered on a T2T truck. Since the food is delivered for free, it also significantly decreases their food budgets. They can reallocate the funds they would have spent on food to feed people on other essential services they provide to our community. 

Watch the short videos below to hear more from two of these organizations’ staff that work closely with Table to Table.

We know you’ll be as impressed as we are by all they’re doing to feed people and build community with food and service.

Salvation Army Chef Allen Sanders

Allen Sanders grew up in Rockford, Illinois and moved to Iowa City 33 years ago to cook at the University of Iowa. When he retired from the university he was missing what he’d been doing his entire life, so he went to work at Salvation Army Soup Kitchen.
“It’s a wonderful experience,” said Sanders. “The volunteers here are great. We are a good team. Table to Table helps us so much with the food they provide. You never know what’s going to show up in the trucks. Every day is something different, but I always find a way to to utilize what I get and make the best meal I can make.”

Shelter House Kitchen Manager Cartis Washington

Cartis Washington, Kitchen Manager at Shelter House, has cooked his entire life. Cartis’s experience cooking many different types of restaurant cuisines has given him a unique way to plan meals and menus.  It could be Asian, Italian, Spanish or Soul – he likes to switch things up when he’s making meals. Shelter House provides three meals a day and Table to Table helps out in many different ways with food. A hearty breakfast, take away meals for drop in clients and a hot dinner. 
When Cartis is not working he’s spending time with his four year old daughter at the library or the Children’s Museum.  He likes to try and get her to try new foods, which can be a challenge. We imagine his creativity in the kitchen and experience feeding hundreds of different people each year gives him an advantage when sitting down to eat with a toddler.