Volunteer Spotlight: Dina Janzen’s essential role in a complex food recovery network

Dina Janzen stands next to the "Big Truck" during a routeDina Janzen’s interest in volunteering with Table to Table was piqued in January 2007 when she first noticed a volunteer picking up food at a donor partner. Now we’re celebrating Dina’s fifteenth year rescuing food with T2T! 

Dina is currently one of three T2T volunteer drivers for what we refer to as our “Big Truck” route, picking up surplus warehouse food donations that account for 31% of the food T2T recovers. This food isn’t short-dated and adds variety to our deliveries, including gluten-free, vegetarian, and organic options. Driving our 22-ft straight truck, Dina stops at warehouse donors and loads literally tons of food on pallets directly into our truck quickly and efficiently.

What’s a key part of the volunteer role for Dina? “I absolutely love connecting with the people inside the backdoors of warehouses, stores and food pantries every week,” she says. “I find it fascinating to observe how the complex systems that exist to rescue all this food are constantly adapting.  My part of this system is simple, but my role feels essential.  A gratifying volunteer job indeed!”

Dina has collected food donations for T2T from warehouses since even before we procured our own big truck. Not too long ago, Dina loaded food donations off of pallets from warehouses by hand into a T2T van until no more would fit. She would then deliver the food to CommUnity Food Bank (then known as the Crisis Center), hand-unload it all, and stack it in their fridge or freezer space. Oh, if only we had the software then to track the amount of food that each of our volunteers rescues; Dina’s numbers would be off the charts!

Dina does what it takes, rain or shine, to make sure we connect great surplus food resources to folks who enjoy the food. We’re so grateful for her and her many years of dedication to our mission and community.

Get to know Dina:

What is one of your favorite food memories?
Baskin Robbins, 1972.  Sugar cone with two scoops.  Coffee ice cream on top of chocolate mint. 

What are your hobbies?
Sewing, mah-jongg, bicycling around town, jigsaw puzzles, yoga, gardening, and searching for the most interesting AirBnbs.

What is your favorite dessert?
Homemade flan.