Marcia and Dan began volunteering at Table to Table in January of 2020. They had recently moved to Iowa City from the Chicago area and were looking for a way to get involved in the community and meet new people. Upon the recommendation of Marcia’s sister-in-law, who had previously volunteered at T2T, they gave us a call. Since that time they both have helped out in several different ways.
Marcia and Dan currently go on a weekly food rescue route together. On top of that, they will pick up another route from time to time when there’s a need. Marcia also serves on the Volunteer Engagement Committee, has lent her expertise for our volunteer training initiatives, and has helped pick up fresh garden produce donations.
On top of the routes that Dan does with Marcia, he often answers the bell when called to sub on volunteer shifts, which include retail food rescue routes, produce pick-up routes, special distributions, and Saturday routes. Both Dan and Marcia have helped with fresh food box distributions as well as developing policies based around infection prevention at the beginning of the pandemic.
We sure are glad that Marcia had that conversation with her sister-in-law!
Get to know Marcia and Dan
What is one thing you would tell new Table to Table volunteers when they’re first starting out? I think it is helpful to understand, respect and appreciate all the people that contribute to food rescue for those in need. Building relationships is helpful during this process.
What do you wish other people knew about T2T and food insecurity? Individual actions can really help someone who is in need.
One thing that would surprise someone to learn about me is…
I grew up on a farm in central Iowa with 12 siblings. I went to a one-room schoolhouse for a couple of years before the school bus would pick us up for town school. Dan and I have lived in Texas, San Francisco Bay Area and a suburb of Chicago before moving to Iowa City.
What is your favorite flavor of ice cream (or favorite dessert)?
Chocoholic from Heyn’s
When asked about what he would share with new T2T volunteers when they’re first starting out, Dan emphasized the unique experience of partnering with a variety of other community members. It has been an unusual year working with T2T during the pandemic. Marcia and I worked with several different [volunteer] partners when we started training. But when we came back after T2T restarted routes last year, we have only worked together. It was interesting getting to know some of the other volunteers while sharing a ride in the truck — I miss that.
What are your hobbies? I am a racquetball player and a bike rider.
One thing that would surprise someone to learn about me is…
I am a three-time state champion in my division in racquetball.
If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you want to go?
I would like to spend a summer in Europe.
Loyal came to Table to Table because he had heard a report on NPR about how food insecurity was being exacerbated by the pandemic, and he wanted to find a way to jump in and help. Loyal started volunteering here in October of 2020 and has been busy helping out ever since, volunteering twice a week, helping out both in the shop and on food rescue routes. In fact, on more than one occasion, Loyal has gotten back from his route and stayed to lend a hand in the shop because he saw that we could use more help. We are grateful for his time and talent and know that he is having a positive impact on our community. Thanks Loyal!
Fun Facts about Loyal
What’s one of your favorite memories from your time volunteering with Table to Table? My route partner, Eliza, and I once picked up a bit over 1,700 pounds in one trip! It’s definitely not the all-time record, but it sure stood out to me as a great morning.
What is one of your favorite food memories?
I really liked the movie It (Stephen King) when I was a kid, so when I was in the fourth grade, my mom made me a Pennywise birthday cake, complete with the clown nose, fangs, and crazy hair.
What are your hobbies?
When the weather is nice, I enjoy spending my free time geocaching, but if I’m stuck inside, you’ll probably find me crocheting.
What happens when you toss that old banana in the trash?
A recent United Nations report found that 930 million tons of food are wasted at homes, stores, and restaurants each year. If farms and production facilities are also considered, more than a third of food is wasted each year worldwide. These statistics demonstrate that food waste is a big problem, but visualizing how big the problem can be challenging. I’ve never seen a million pounds of food, let alone 930 million tons of food! If we can’t visualize the problem, it is difficult to understand the impacts, let alone imagine solutions.
I have the privilege of having a curbside compost cart through the city of Iowa City, so the organic materials we can’t or don’t use usually find their way into the compost cart. At the most immediate level, I compost and work to reduce food waste for selfish reasons. By tossing banana peels, bones, and veggie scraps into the compost my trash can doesn’t smell (and it’s less enticing to my dog). Although throwing my organic materials in the trash instead of the compost probably won’t impact me the next day, the next year, or even in the next decade, it will impact other communities, today, tomorrow, and into the future. Whether it be next month or the next century, the actions we make today will dictate the livelihoods of communities today and those of future generations.
The inputs to grow, transport, and prepare food are immense. By being conscious about our role in the food waste machine, we can celebrate the gift that is food and give thanks to those that are helping nourish us.
The good, wholesome food that Table to Table volunteers rescue avoids a needless fate in the compost pile, or, more likely, the landfill. When organic materials are taken to the landfill they break down in an environment with little oxygen. This process produces the greenhouse gas methane. Pound for pound, methane adds to the climate change problem even more than its famous cousin carbon dioxide. Organic materials make up about 35% of the Iowa City Landfill and account for roughly 2% of the city’s greenhouse gas emissions. Organic materials are being sent to landfills across the world. The greenhouse gases emitted from food waste in the U.S. have a larger impact than the airline industry. If we can’t eat all of our food, we should try our best to compost it.
I started writing this post hoping to get down to the nitty-gritty of how Table to Table impacts our local environment. Luckily for me somebody already did all the hard work (thank students at the University of Iowa!). Their project compared the inputs of greenhouse gases (our vehicle emissions) and the mitigation of greenhouse gases (the greenhouse gas emissions avoided because food was not taken to the landfill). Their research and calculations demonstrate: “Table to Table has a net-positive environmental impact for greenhouse gas emissions.” At the most basic level, this means that our food rescue program makes a difference in the fight against climate change.
The challenge of food waste can be overwhelming and even more so when we think about its impact on the environment. It is hard to comprehend methane and carbon dioxide levels, or the pollutants in our tailpipes, or the water and land used to grow our food. However, what is easy to understand is that we can do something! When I am feeling overwhelmed about food waste, I have to remind myself that humans have been coming up with ideas to reduce food waste and compost extra food for millennia. Making soup stock with veggie scraps and bones reduces food waste. Making goulash reduces food waste, and so does cooking beef bourguignon. We already know many ways to reduce our food waste, and we have the opportunity to adopt new ways to reduce waste while also feeding ourselves and our communities. When we think about reducing food waste as building connections between abundance and hunger, we can make progress.
-Ezra Schley, Food Rescue Program Coordinator
It was wonderful to gather together at our first-ever drive-in movie. We couldn’t have done it without the incredible team at Summer of the Arts as well as Indian Creek Nature Center who teamed up with us for our event at Iowa City Municipal Airport.
The Penny Railers provided perfect summer music for our evening under the stars. Our event volunteers directed traffic and parked cars, sold concessions, and helped ensure each detail of the event ran smoothly.
A huge thank you to our dedicated committee members who planned this event alongside T2T staff in the months leading up to this day: Sheila Boyd, Cindy Brooks, Ann Donahue, Jody Josten, and Bernice Thommandru.
There’s still time to get your raffle tickets and bid on our virtual auction items! Thanks to the generosity of Local Harvest CSA, Trowel and Error Farm, Wild Woods Farm, Iowa Women’s Basketball, Trader Joe’s- Coralville, Shop Iowa, Prairie Kitchen Store, Lois Burkett, Ann Donahue, and Jerry Swails.
And we are ever so grateful to all of you who watched this documentary with us, who showed your support from home, and who join us every day in our fight against food waste. You all are the fuel for our food rescue efforts!
Weren’t able to attend? You can still make a donation here.
Steve Gallagher doesn’t know a stranger. He loves to get to know new people and engage in discussion – as he says himself, one thing people would be surprised to learn about him is that he is in fact “capable of having a brief conversation!” (but we greatly enjoy our long chats with him). He began volunteering with Table to Table two years ago and “never looked back,” quickly forming many friendships and becoming an indispensable part of the team.
Steve spends much of his time helping to lead our Straight Truck Program. We utilize our 26-foot refrigerated straight truck (affectionately referred to as “The Big Truck”) to rescue 900,000 pounds of food each year. Steve volunteers as one of our truck drivers, and he is also in charge of training new drivers as well as overseeing routine maintenance. He brings 40 years of experience as a driver for Hawkeye Foodservice/US Foods to his volunteer role.
Steve first learned of T2T through another volunteer, Dick Braverman, and was curious to find out more about what we do, so he signed up to volunteer soon after leaving full-time employment. “I think many people might begin volunteering at T2T because they have some time available and would like to give back to the community,” Steve says. “What they may or may not realize is just how great the emotional reward can be for doing so. There may be ‘warm fuzzies’ you might not have expected.”
Steve’s work is essential in helping T2T rescue tons (literally) of good food each week. “The pandemic has driven home the point that anyone can experience food insecurity. To be a part of diverting food that would otherwise go to waste and helping diminish hunger in some measure is truly a valid mission.”
When Steve isn’t rescuing food, he’s enjoying one of his many hobbies: walking, hiking, bicycle riding, reading, birdwatching, going to live events at regional venues, keeping up with local and global current events, sharing a meal with friends, spending time with his grandchildren in Florida, or playing an “occasional, low-stakes slot machine.” Someday he would love to go on a multi-day trip by rail with his spouse.
One of his favorite food-related memories comes from when he was growing up with his three older siblings. “Our mom would bake us the cake of our choice for our birthday. Mine was always confetti angel food cake with maraschino cherry-flavored buttercream frosting. Yum!” This may be what kicked off his “chronic sweet tooth!”
We are very grateful to have Steve on board as a T2T volunteer and know that our Straight Truck Program is in good hands. If you see Steve around, make sure to tell him “thank you” for bringing his knowledge, enthusiasm, and humor to his work at T2T!