CFR’s Match Finds Home for Tomato Donation

Surplus, local organic tomatoes serve 120 people at Shepherd’s Table

Amanda Cather, Plow and Stars farmer, and Haile Gebregziabher, Director of Operations at Shepherd’s Table have never met. Yet together with Bill Franz, a Community Food Rescue volunteer food runner, each contributed to the delicious spaghetti dinner that Shepherd’s Table served to their client guests.  As soon as Amanda posted her donation of 200 lbs. of organic tomatoes, Community Food Rescue’s new Web application instantly matched it with Shepherd’s Table based on their profile listing the type and quantity of food they can use, their location, and their hours they are open to receive donations.

Farmer Amanda donates 200 lbs. of surplus organic tomatoes.
Farmer Amanda donates 200 lbs. of surplus organic tomatoes.

CFR’s Web app sent out a food run request to the pool of volunteer food runners in the vicinity. Bill was the first volunteer to accept. The three way match was made and each received an email confirmation with all the details. When asked why they participate in Community Food Rescue, Amanda, Bill, and Haile each offered their own story.

“As farm manager at Waltham Fields Community Farm for a decade, part of our mission was growing and donating beautiful organic produce for folks of all income levels and backgrounds,” Amanda explained.  “Now that I have started my own farm here in Maryland, it’s almost impossible for me to leave produce in the field if I know that there’s someone out there that can use it.

“Our free choice Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) system means that we need to grow more produce than our members can use.  We donate weekly to our local food pantry here in Poolesville, but as a small-scale grower without any hired help on the farm, I just don’t have the capacity to make the connections or transport the veggies to a down-county food pantry or meal program where the population and facilities exist to use more of our produce.

“The Community Food Rescue matching program makes it straightforward for small growers like me to get our produce to those who can use it. All I had to do was sign up to be a food donor and post the donation, then harvest the food and keep it in good condition at the farm. The CFR volunteer showed up and transported the vegetables to someone who could use them.  It was incredibly easy and satisfying for me and helped me feel a real connection to my community, which is incredibly important to me and part of the mission of my small business.  I really appreciate that this service exists in the county and look forward to making use of it in the future.”

Volunteer food runner transports tomatoes from Plow and Stars farm to Shepherd's Table.
Volunteer food runner transports tomatoes from Plow and Stars farm to Shepherd’s Table.

Bill Franz, a retired Montgomery County school teacher, is excited to participate as a volunteer food runner. “I don’t want to see good food go to waste, or people go hungry,” Bill said. “I’ve volunteered  with food assistance organizations for many years. Being a food runner is another way to give back to my community whenever it fits my schedule. It’s really great how I’m notified by email and given all the information I need to pick up and deliver the food. The Web app even shows me my route using Google maps.”

Haile Gebregziabher, Shepherd’s Table Director of Operations received the organic tomato donation at about 3:30pm. “Our budget goes a lot farther when we receive donated food. CFR’s matching network makes the challenge of receiving this food a lot easier,” Haile explained. The organization’s professional chefs cook from an array of donated food from groceries, restaurants, and farms. They use their skills and creativity to cook with what they receive and prepare healthy, delicious food to feed 120-150 client guests every night of the year. “The quality of the tomatoes is very good. We will make it into tomato sauce to serve with spaghetti for 120 of our client guests on Friday,” Haile said.

Shepherd's Table staffers receive the tomato donation for making tomato sauce.
Shepherd’s Table staff receive the tomato donation for making tomato sauce.

Community Food Rescue seeks licensed food businesses, food assistance organizations, and volunteers to participate in CFR’s matching network. Sign up HERE to use the new matching Web application.

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