Twenty-five years ago retired teacher and leader, Frank Lalor, helped found Table to Table, Iowa’s first food rescue organization. Imagine, wrapping up an incredible career as an educator and deciding to dedicate the next 25 years to improving the community in a new way. Table to Table has been yet another educational endeavor for Frank, a lifelong learner. What is a community food rescue program, if not first and foremost an endeavor to educate people on food waste and hunger?
Together, Frank and a group of community leaders sought to alleviate hunger in our community while also reducing the environmental impact of food waste. Frank speaks of its inception as “merely a good idea whose time had come.” Frank’s son, Jerry, remembers that first donor phone call in Frank and Jeanette’s kitchen when Frank exclaimed “Hot Dog! We got one!”
Since his first delivery in the family station wagon in 1996, Frank’s passion and commitment to the work has never waned. He has continued to work with Table to Table in our daily mission, serving as the liaison to Iowa City Free Lunch Program and collecting ingredients for a well-rounded meal for more than 100 Free Lunch diners per day. He also delivers donations from key partners and has delivered more than 60,000 pounds of food a year on his routes. Most years, Table to Table rescued food 365 days because Frank showed up every single day to deliver any food remaining in storage. Empty refrigerators at T2T are a hallmark of the operation. We built upon Frank’s example to ensure all of the food we collect is delivered to people who will eat it by the end of the day.
Over the years, Frank has helped build a coalition of 50 nonprofit partners, 100+ food donors, and hundreds of community volunteers. At the end of each year, staff have come to look forward to Frank’s short retrospective,
“It’s been another good year! We filled all 365 days with at least one pick-up and delivery. Congratulations to us all–staff and volunteers–for this remarkable and satisfying achievement! We have done well in meeting our mission: of collecting and distributing food for the hungry, homeless, and others at risk.”
Buoyed by his constant encouragement, volunteers have delivered 25 million pounds of food and fed tens of thousands of our neighbors.
With this incredible milestone met, Frank is retiring from his role at Table to Table. In his announcement, Frank shared this message for those continuing his work,
Since we can’t yet convene in celebration of Frank and all of his incredible work, please consider writing a note to Frank and sending it to Table to Table. You can submit your message in a variety of ways on this page. We will deliver your well-wishes and appreciation to him.
Stay tuned for additional ways we will recognize Frank as we celebrate him and 25 amazing years.