Nourish Now, Rockville, MD
The Ultimate Recipe for Leftovers: (5 Star User Rating)
Ingredients: Fresh, delicious, surplus food from restaurants, stores, and catered events that would otherwise go to waste
Preparation: Rescue (collect) ingredients from a growing list of community partners and then, using a largely volunteer staff, sort, store, and "redistribute" to individuals and families in need.
Recipe Yields: A significant reduction or elimination to local hunger and food insecurity and better health, and education for its recipients.
For an interesting twist to this great recipe try: Bringing rescued food to other volunteer organizations who will create wonderful hot meals for hungry people using whatever is made available. (For example, visit www.dokindworks.org)
This Food Recovery Recipe was created by Brett Meyers and is the foundation of Nourish Now, a nonprofit operating in Montgomery County since 2011. Nourish Now partners with almost 200 community donors and assists approximately 600 needy families and 90 local non-profits a month. Its purpose is two-fold: To solve hunger and food waste.
I was first exposed to Nourish Now a few years ago by my mom whose giving circle funded a new truck for collection. More recently, I was introduced to its wonderful Volunteer Coordinator Tamica while at an event co-hosted by KindWorks (Project #15). Wanting a closer look, I volunteered today in the warehouse where I bagged fresh produce, sorted canned goods, and prepared individual meals using a variety of leftovers from a local restaurants and grocers. I did this while listening to great music and working alongside other volunteers. Some of the volunteers were retired, some were in service programs, and others had special needs. Veteran volunteers were treated like staff and assumed many of the day-to-day duties in the warehouse. Grateful families arrived to pick up groceries and meals as we worked.
Nourish Now is a true resource for Montgomery County. Every food-related organization I have worked with lists it high on its referral list. If places like Manna Food Center or Gaithersburg HELP has to turn clients away, they send them to Nourish Now who is really making a valiant effort to plug the gap of food waste and insecurity. Thank you Nourish Now!
My Takeaways: (1) Great ideas needed to solve big problems are often right before our eyes -- it just takes discipline, determination, and dedication to make it happen! Most of us have been to a wedding or at a restaurant near closing time and have wondered, "Where will all of this surplus food go? Will it be wasted?" We've also seen the homeless and the hungry and wondered why they can't be connected to this surplus food. Well, Nourish Now is doing just that -- connecting would-be waste to real need. It isn't easy and involves lots and lots of volunteers, vehicles for pick ups, and a tremendous amount organization, but it is being done. Where there is a will, there is a way? I think so! (2) A good organization willingly accepts feedback and grows from it. During my volunteer shift, I observed a few things that either concerned me or that prompted questions. I reached out via email to express my feedback hoping it would be received without offense and from my lens as a now seasoned volunteer. Almost immediately, I received a return email and a request for a future phone call. Instead of ignoring or dismissing my concerns or suggestions, I felt heard, validated, and even appreciated. I think this is another mark of a strong organization, don't you?