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!
We’re excited to introduce you to our new Local Gleaning Coordinator, Nora Garda.
Nora grew up in Argentina and has many fond memories of her childhood there. One of her earliest food memories is that of the smell of her grandmother’s polenta, made with warm milk and cheese, wafting through the house when Nora returned from school. To reduce food waste and make the most of limited resources, Nora’s family shopped at the market daily and prepared meals with fresh ingredients. These memories have impacted Nora and fueled a life-long appreciation for fresh foods and a desire to combat food waste.
Nora completed her undergraduate degree, a BS in analytical chemistry and a BA in dance, in Argentina. After getting her undergraduate degree Nora moved to the United States and earned a Masters in Analytical Chemistry from Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Eventually, she found her way to Iowa City where she recently retired after 28 years working as a Senior Chemist testing the efficacy and stability of new compounds for pharmaceutical companies. However, if you recognize Nora, it’s most likely not because of her career as a chemist but because of her community involvement stemming from her love of dance. While she’s classically trained in ballet, Nora’s true passion is modern dance, and she has spearheaded numerous community projects related to dance.
Nora will be serving for 9 months as an AmeriCorps member with Table to Table’s gleaning program. Nora is eager to lead harvests this summer so that she can provide people with fresh produce like she remembers having access to as a young girl. As she says, “I strongly believe in not wasting food. Fresh produce is nutritious and yummy! Why let it go bad in the fields when so many can benefit from it?”
We love Nora’s enthusiasm and energy and look forward to her applying her passion for fresh produce to our gleaning program. On a personal note, I am hoping that she is willing to share grandma’s polenta recipe!
Introduction written by Jared Long
Local Foods Recovery Specialist
Service Opportunity Overview: Are you an active person with a passion for DOING? The Local Foods Recovery Specialist is a dynamic role that will support our food recovery operations during the busy summer season. Help us provide fresh, local food options to food-insecure individuals in our community.
This position balances well-developed communication skills with hands-on interaction to implement the gleaning, or harvesting, of excess produce from farms and private donors. The Local Foods Recovery Specialist will complete food rescue routes from area retail donors and initiate outreach activities to backyard gardeners, local farms and producers to expand our collection and distribution of fresh, local foods. Throughout harvest season, the Specialist will help build new partnerships, lead volunteers to harvest local food, and deliver it to partners serving food insecure individuals. The fresh produce gleaned is a vital additional resource for fighting food insecurity across Iowa.
If you’re interested in this AmeriCorps VISTA position, please submit your resume and cover letter to Emily Meister at Table to Table via email: email@example.com.
Donor Relations Coordinator
Service Opportunity Overview: Do you enjoy relationship building as well as planning and creating content that spotlights hunger relief efforts in our community? Join the Table to Table team to help us strengthen our engagement and recognition efforts for food and financial donors and implement new ways to share their stories and impact with our community.
The Donor Relations Coordinator is responsible for developing and implementing existing and new donor communications strategies in coordination with the Communications and Development Coordinator and Program Manager. This position focuses on both food and financial donor engagement and recognition through planning content creation and communication touchpoints. The Donor Relations Coordinator will work with staff and conduct research to determine donor engagement needs, and design donor-centric templates and content, including articles, flyers, and videos. The Coordinator will improve and build upon Table to Table’s relationships with food donor partners and financial donors with the ultimate organizational goal of rescuing more good food to deliver to neighbors who need it.
If you’re interested in this AmeriCorps VISTA position, please submit your resume and cover letter to Nicki Ross at Table to Table via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Being an AmeriCorps VISTA member is about making a tangible difference for communities and individuals dealing with some of our Nation’s biggest challenges: poverty, inequity, homelessness, and lack of access to education. VISTA members help to build the capacity of organizations that are working to alleviate poverty all across the country. As a VISTA member you will serve in a project identified and managed by the community while earning a modest living allowance that reflects the income level of the community where you’re serving. Read more about member benefits here.
As we wrap up volunteer appreciation month, we can’t think of a better way to express our appreciation for our fantastic volunteers than by sharing stories from their T2T volunteer shifts in April. These stories illustrate volunteers’ resourcefulness, good humor, and enthusiasm to go above and beyond in the name of food rescue. We truly could not recover nearly 2.5 million pounds of food each year without them.
Just last weekend, volunteer Michelle Hills finished her regular food rescue route collecting a few hundred pounds of food. While she was out, another volunteer called in and couldn’t do their route. Michelle noticed when she got back from her regular route that nobody had recorded any donations for that route and offered to do that one too! Without her, we may have lost the opportunity to deliver more produce, meat, and a variety of other foods to Coralville Community Pantry that morning.
Mary Palmberg and Nancy Weber picked up a huge haul at Walmart & Costco a couple of weeks ago. Mary says, “No surprise that we barely — and only due to our years of practice — fit all that frozen bakery and (heavy) frozen meat into the cooler section [of the van].” On top of that, they received lots of whole pineapples.
At the next stop, a couple of hundred pounds of charcoal briquettes! So, upon delivery, Mary made a deal: “We told Hải at the Coralville Pantry that she could have some of those nice pineapples if she took some charcoal briquettes…the number of pineapples dependent on the number of 20# bags of charcoal. She laughed — though she also took charcoal along with her pineapples.”
The good-natured flexibility of our partners to accept whatever crazy variety of food (and BBQ accouterments) that arrive on the truck is key to our success. “We were amazed that we’d passed off all the charcoal — and everything else — by the end of the route,” Mary says.
We’re impressed by the packing and sorting skills our veteran volunteers have. It’s an underrated talent that ensures no fruit is left behind!
On another of what Mary calls an “exciting & rewarding day on the road”, it was looking like a “light” food rescue day with two carts of grocery, meat, and bakery…until a very helpful and friendly store employee, Taveon, led the team back to a cooler with towers of cabbage and bananas. So many, it warranted a call back to base to see if T2T had the capacity. After getting the affirmative, they had to do their magic again to fit everything in the van. On their way out, Mary asked about a cart of miscellaneous items including toys and Easter baskets that weren’t for sale anymore, so they took those too! Hải Huỳnh, Coralville Pantry Community Projects Coordinator, shared with the volunteers that those extra toys and gifts they asked for would be put in birthday bags for kids.
Mary and Nancy made stops at North Liberty Pantry and HACAP Head Start and then an additional stop at Shelter House where they delivered a box of bananas and quite a few cabbages. The cook was excited about preparing the cabbages for dinner that evening.
T2T recipient partners and our volunteers are truly remarkable, and it’s clear that the admiration is mutual. Mary and Nancy return from their route celebrating their interactions with Hải: “What a super (& strong!) woman she is!” and, “She’s fantastic!”
Kenn & Pat Bowen, volunteers since this past September, shared photos of their beautiful haul from New Pioneer Coop. Fresh veggies and healthy prepared foods were a welcome and delightful delivery that day!
And finally, volunteer Charlotte Fairlie passed along an impactful message she received from a community member as she was picking up food at a stop on her route just a few days ago:
“A woman rolled down her window as she was pulling out of her parking space and said,
‘I just want to thank all of you for everything you are doing and all the work you put in. I have been in the position of having to use your services, and I want you to know how valuable it is and how much it’s appreciated.’”
As Charlotte says, “Her message is for all of us.”