The Iowa City Masonic Foundation really came through for the hunger relief network in our community and the 19,000 people that we fed this year. The IC Masonic Foundation match of $12,500 in donations kept the wheels turning on Table to Table’s 2.5 million pound food rescue operation.
In the span of a year, our two oldest food rescue vehicles reached the end of their utility after rescuing several millions of pounds of food during their tenure. Our vehicles are essential to route-based food rescue, daily delivering free food to area hunger relief partners. So, when we lost each vehicle, we used operating funds to purchase a replacement. This match challenge has doubled the impact and enabled us to fully fund the 2019 Ford Transit we’ve been using since July 2019. This food rescue vehicle has transported over 209,000 pounds of food from donor partners to local hunger relief organizations. Route volunteers have driven it over 5,300 miles on approximately 300 routes so far.
With a team of more than 400 volunteers and our fleet of eight food rescue vehicles, we rescued 2.5 million pounds of food in Johnson County last year. Wholesome food from more than 80 donor organizations was delivered to over 50 recipient hunger relief agencies serving 19,000 Johnson County residents struggling with food insecurity. We certainly couldn’t accomplish this feat without our outstanding volunteers and the community’s gracious support. Because of your $25,000 investment we will continue this good work with a vehicle that will deliver food for another 15 years.
Nearly 12 percent of Johnson County Iowa residents are food insecure. Table to Table is launching new initiatives that get fresh produce to Johnson County pantries serving 13,000 people (1). Those who don’t have adequate access to food have even less access to nutritious fresh foods. Fresh, local produce is often cost-prohibitive for impoverished families and a cost burden to hunger relief agencies serving them. Food recovery programs like the one we are proposing have proven to effectively address food insecurity and resulting health outcomes. Beneficiaries of fresh food recovery programs have reported increased fruit and vegetable consumption, healthier overall diets, and decreased stress levels (2). This program will address the emergency food needs of Johnson County residents and provide them access to additional nutritious food resources.
Table to Table is looking for immediate support in the following positions:
Part-Time Program Assistant
This Table to Table staff position is a permanent 10-hour per week position
Looking for a part-time gig with a local organization doing big things? This job is ideal for a reliable, friendly, and organized person with some free mornings during the week. The Program Assistant is responsible for supporting the daily function of the food rescue program and its volunteers in a friendly and fast-paced environment. This person directs volunteers and communicates with donor/recipient sites to ensure smooth pick-up and delivery of donations. The best candidate is a team player with leadership experience and enjoys interacting with people of diverse ages and backgrounds. Applicants must be energetic, self-motivated, and have strong communication skills. This position reports to the Food Rescue Program Manager. Read more about this position and apply here.
Americorps Iowa Gleaning Program Development Coordinator
12 Month VISTA
The Iowa Gleaning Program Development Coordinator is responsible for the development and support of a multi-site statewide gleaning initiative. This initiative’s priority is to access additional agricultural products to meet the nutritional needs of food-insecure families throughout Iowa. This position serves in the gleaning network to develop public education and outreach materials for the implementation of local gleaning initiatives which will harvest and distribute produce to local pantries and food banks. Read more about the position and Apply here!
Source 1) https://map.feedingamerica.org/county/2018/overall/iowa
Source 2) Megan D. Wolfson & Catherine Greeno (2020) Savoring surplus: effects of food rescue on recipients, Journal of Hunger & Environmental Nutrition, 15:1, 62-79, DOI: 10.1080/19320248.2018.1512921
Position Overview: Looking for a part-time gig with a local organization doing big things? This job is ideal for a reliable, friendly, and organized person with some free mornings during the week. The Program Assistant is responsible for supporting the daily function of the food rescue program and its volunteers in a friendly and fast-paced environment. This person directs volunteers and communicates with donor/recipient sites to ensure smooth pick-up and delivery of donations. The best candidate is a team player with leadership experience and enjoys interacting with people of diverse ages and backgrounds. Applicants must be energetic, self-motivated, and have strong communication skills. This position reports to the Food Rescue Program Manager.
Submit your resume and cover letter to Emily Meister, Program Manager via email: Apply Now
Employment Status and Work Hours: (Part-time 10 hours per week)
Three to four weekday mornings starting at 7:30 am with flexible shift end time. Occasional half-day Saturdays.
Wage: $12-$15 an hour depending on experience
Roles and Responsibilities:
- Coordinate daily routes by getting volunteers started and directing their tasks for the day.
- Assist with training and orientation of food rescue, fleet, and facility volunteers.
- Communicate with key staff at donor/recipient sites to ensure smooth pick-up and delivery of donations.
- Accept, track, unload, and organizone-time food donations and distribute these incoming donations.
- e food received at Table to Table.
- Accompany volunteers on food rescue route delivery when needed.
- Complete shop/facility duties normally done by volunteers as needed.
Desired Education and Experience
- Experience as a team leader or front office/reception experience in a fast-paced environment
Necessary Skills and Requirements
- Valid driver’s license and good driving record.
- Ability to work in a fast-paced public-facing role, maintaining energy through often repetitive tasks and communications
- Ability to sustain positive communications and model for volunteers a compassionate, non-judgmental approach.
- Functional knowledge and ability to use Microsoft Office and volunteer databases.
You can make more than just alphabet soup from these commonly wasted ingredients!
I’ve just been waiting for someone to ask me for my food rescue recommendations. Now that I’ve gotten started, it’s hard to stop! Here, I’ve compiled a list of many of the ingredients I rescue regularly and keep in my freezer.
Flash freezing is the secret to much of my food waste management. You’ll want to do this especially if it’s something you don’t want to use all at once or you don’t want it freezing in a big clump. Just lay the food out, unwrapped, on a cookie sheet. Put it into the freezer for a short time—twenty minutes or so—until it hardens. Once it’s frozen solid, you can store it in a bag or a container, and individual pieces will stay mostly separated. You can then just pull out whatever amount you need.
Apples I don’t know about you, but I find half-eaten apples around my house regularly – apples the kiddos took a few bites of and left. I even rescue these half-eaten fruits. I rinse them, cut off the bitey parts, and cube up for a snack or put in the freezer to add to smoothies. You can do this with slightly mushy yet uneaten apples, too. You don’t have to take a bite of it first, I guess.
Bananas: We all know frozen brown bananas make great banana bread, but how many people keep tossing brown banana after brown banana into the freezer for this purpose and never make that much banana bread?
Bananas are also great in smoothies! Just plop the whole frozen banana in the freezer when it’s past its prime (I have a section of my freezer dedicated to this). Blend it up with fresh or frozen yogurt, a little honey, and any other frozen fruit or veggies you like – either store-bought or fruits and veggies you’ve saved in the freezer.
Mushy bananas that are not great for snacking are great blended into a homemade banana oat pancake mix. Super simple, delicious, and nutritious.
T2T Tip: When you’re ready to peel your frozen bananas, put them in a bowl of really hot water for 30 seconds and the peel will slip right off.
Cauliflower that’s turning brown is great chopped up in curries. You can also mash or rice it, then freeze it for a ready-to-go side dish anytime.
Bell Peppers – A versatile veggie that freezes well! Chop and freeze for soups, stir-fry, curries, or tacos.
Broccoli stems make an excellent addition to a slaw. Throw them in your ramen, on top of a baked potato, even on pizza!
Coconut Milk is a good example of a canned item I freeze often, is coconut milk. You can use an ice cube tray and then store in a bag or container. Add a cube or two to your stir-fry right at the end for a richer flavor.
Cherry Tomatoes: Even cherry tomatoes can make a quick sauce if you have too many. Rinse, dump in a pan and mash slightly. Cook down for 15-20 minutes, season, and then blend, and freeze. I do this when my cherry tomatoes have gone wrinkly, but are not rotted. The active time cooking is under 5 minutes, so even if there’s only enough for a small amount, you can take out a few frozen containers when you’re ready to put it into a meal.
Green Chilis or Chipotle in Adobo: Mostly, I think my family is a bunch of weenies when it comes to spicy food. Personally, I’d just add the whole can to any dish, but if that’s too spicy for you or your family, just use what you need and put the rest in the freezer. They’ll last quite a while.
Pumpkin: When you add a small amount – ½ cup or so – of canned pumpkin to soups or stews, the pumpkin flavor won’t take over but adds a nice creamy texture and deep flavor. Whenever I open a can of pumpkin but don’t use it all, I pop the rest in the freezer and add to dishes as needed. Pumpkin pancakes are another great use for canned pumpkin! I always make lots of extra mini pancakes and freeze them. Pull a few out of the freezer, cook them in the oven for a couple minutes and add jam for a quick and tasty breakfast.
Rhubarb: when it’s ready to harvest, you get a lot! Good news is that it’s fairly easy to preserve. Cook down with a tablespoon of water, a pinch of salt, and sugar to taste. It makes a yummy sauce for ice cream or yogurt. You can also mix with other fruits like the soggy strawberries below.
Soggy Strawberries can make some recipes better. Cut them roughly and cook them down into a quick sauce topping. It only takes a couple of minutes on the stove. The overripe fruit is perfect because it will be very sweet and the sauce won’t require any added sugar.
Rinse, flash freeze, add to your stock of smoothie ingredients in your freezer.
Stir strawberries, soggy or not, into plain yogurt. (This way you can buy a large tub of plain yogurt and flavor it any way you like. Crushing up a bit of the lemon biscotti from Paglias would make a tasty topping too!)
Also, a good topping for ice cream or thicken it up a bit by cooking longer and you have a simple homemade jam.
Tomatoes: you can freeze the whole tomato, no prep, if you’re really in a hurry. Really, just place the whole thing in there and when you’re ready to use it, thaw slightly and the skin will come off easily. Then it’s ready for soups or marinara.
Tomato Paste – I like to freeze this flat in a bag or on a cookie sheet. Then just break off however much you need.
Veg Heavy Tomato/Pasta Sauce – I like to make a big batch of pasta sauce with LOTS of veggies to freeze. It’s a good way to utilize lots of tomatoes and other veg in your fridge. Chop up onions, red, yellow, or orange bell peppers (if I use green, I use only a small amount because the flavor can take over), celery, carrots, zucchini, and even a few stray mushrooms. Simmer and cook down until all veggies are tender then blend until smooth in a food processor or blender. For seasonings, I add basil, oregano, parsley, garlic, and salt and pepper. A really small pinch of cinnamon adds a warm flavor to the sauce. Depending on how sweet and flavorful the tomatoes that you use are, you can also add a little sugar or honey as needed.
Wrinkly Grapes: When the grapes get sad and wrinkly, they get neglected in the fridge. Rinse and place in a bag or container in the freezer. They make a great cold, refreshing snack and it doesn’t matter if they were wrinkly or soft once they’re frozen. Also, a good smoothie ingredient!
Yogurt: You should freeze some yogurt, rescued or not! Put into individual containers in the freezer to use later in smoothies. If it’s a large container, spread on a cookie sheet, freeze, then break up and store the chunks in a plastic bag.
Zucchini are the end of summer excess no one knows what to do with. You can only eat so much zucchini bread. I don’t find that zucchini freezes well whole, but if you chop and even partially cook then freeze, you can blend into vegetable soup or cube for a creamy addition to any fruit smoothie!
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.