By Cheryl Kollin, CFR Program Director
It was a sunny Tuesday afternoon and we had just finished our slide presentation, introducing Community Food Rescue to a monthly gathering of Neighbors in Need Working Group, of the Montgomery County, Maryland’s Faith Community Advisory Council, a coalition of faith-based and social service agencies serving our most vulnerable populations. When the lights came up and I asked for questions from the audience, an enthused rabbi raised his hand excitedly. He said, “This food recovery program you describe is just great! Why aren’t you in the community telling everyone about it?” I smiled and gestured with open arms to the room and everyone giggled. “Yes, that’s why we’re here today!” I said.
Community Food Rescue just celebrated its first anniversary, March 4th, after launching publicly at last year’s Food Council meeting with much fanfare with state and local officials joining community members.
Since then, we’ve been busy putting our plans into practice including creating food safety guidelines, teaching safe food handling classes, offering a mini-grants program to build the capacity among CFR network agency partners, co-branding a recognition program to celebrate CFR network members, and launching CFR’s matching tool online and its companion mobile app.
It’s true, CFR hasn’t made front page news yet, but we’ve been out in the community, giving presentations to local, regional, and even national audiences. Why just last month, in addition to the Neighbors in Need meeting, we spoke in between Sunday services at River Road Unitarian Church. CFR network partners, Manna Food Center and Shepherd’s Table taught a class for the Dept. of Health and Human Services Center for Continuous Learning, for staff to learn about countywide food recovery efforts and opportunities for their clients. One staffer commented, “CFR is a creative approach to food distribution and feeding hungry folks.” Another participant commented, “Loved this info. I’ll share it with my community contacts.”
CFR is a creative approach to food distribution and feeding hungry folks.
CFR has drawn attention from other U.S. communities like Santa Clara County, CA. In March, we gave a keynote presentation to 100 invited stakeholders sharing CFR’s county supported, collaborative approach and offered best practices for the newly created, Silicon Valley Food Rescue’s consideration and replication.
So we’re getting the word out, and we have a lot of community events lined up this spring. In April look for us exhibiting and speaking at Food Recovery Network’s National Dialogue, a three day gathering of FRN chapters on college campuses. On April 30th, stop by the free MoCo Greenfest, where we’ll be exhibiting and sharing the stage with the Food Council’s Environmental Impact Working Group on avoiding food waste through food recovery and backyard composting.
Join us on April 28th; sign up to attend a free Food Safety Webinar on what everyone needs to know about food safety and learn about CFR volunteer food runners. On May 4th, join us as we’ll be bringing CFR to a regional audience via a free webinar hosted by the Chesapeake Foodshed Network. We’re also participating in a countywide planning conference called, Makeover Montgomery, speaking in a session called, The Sharing Economy: Access to Food and Workspace.
Look for us out in the community and online engaging with our partners and the public, sharing CFR’s programs, and of course rescuing food.