Feeding our Neighbors began with a conversation… So many people are quick to donate leftover flowers after weddings & events, so why not food? NACE members, we know that there are some events where the waste is overwhelming – most commonly, big conventions and graduations. We have seen countless items from continental breakfasts to filet mignons thrown in the dumpster without even the slightest offer to the hard working servers or industry partners to take it home with them - and certain venues prefer to order their servers pizzas instead of letting them eat the massive amount of leftovers that end up in trash bins. Feeding our Neighbors started because of this food waste epidemic. It’s an initiative to push a world of understanding and guidance to caterers and venues to utilize that leftover food and feed our neighbors in need, while being environmentally sustainable.
Originally born out of New England NACE as a Community Service initiative, Feeding Our Neighbors has since been embraced by fellow local industry organizations Boston Wedding Group and ILEA Boston. This is an industry-wide effort with industry-wide support.
The primary goal of FON is to educate food handlers about the law and logistics regarding donating surplus prepared food after events. From early food education we in the food industry learn food safety techniques and we tend to stray from allowing any food to leave our establishments due to liability: if anyone got sick after eating their donated food, caterers believe they’re liable and that they’ll have a major consequence. This fear is due to a lack of knowledge. The Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act is a Federal Law passed by President Clinton in 1996 to encourage the distribution of donated food to individuals in need. It protects food donors and recipients who “Act in good faith” from criminal and civil liability when donating “Apparently Wholesome” food to a non-profit organization (who will rightly distribute this food). Yet, caterers either did not know about the Law or continued to be uncomfortable with the fear of liability. So in 2012, Feeding our Neighbors set out to banish this fear via conversation and education.
NENACE members joined Co-Founders Dana Siles and Naomi Raiselle to re-educate fellow event professionals about how they can participate with Feeding Our Neighbors. Their message: food donation is easy and there are no liability issues. The icing on the cake: donating leftovers brings great PR and businesses may take advantage of enhanced tax incentives. Little by little, Feeding our Neighbors members spread the word and donations began to rise. The NACE board and Past and Present Presidents Lyndsay Picciano, Michelle Reid, Jill Person and Maria Panaggio-Phillips have been very much involved in the success of Feeding Our Neighbors.
One of FON’s most recent and active participants is Lombardo’s: David Lombardo, ILEA Immediate Past President and General Manager of Lombardo’s realized that many of their expected 700 guests were not going to arrive to the event for unexpected circumstances and quickly acted – within a few hours the food was picked up and delivered to Father Bill’s in Quincy. David recalls “It was a wonderful feeling to know that the extra food that was already paid for could go to help those in need, especially right after a big snow storm! This was our first experience with FON and the effect on our kitchen team was tremendous! They were all beaming with pride that the hard work they put into cooking would still be enjoyed by the community around us in need.”
FON’s message has rapidly spread in recent years. Within just the last month, FON was represented by Naomi Raiselle as she spoke at NACE Experience and she had an extremely positive response. ServBoston invited David and Dana to present at their last meeting at Catalyst. It was so well received, that they were extended the invitation to present at all of this year’s ServBoston meetings.
The latest addition to the FON effort is Rescuing Leftover Cuisine, a 501(c)3 assisting shelters and soup kitchens by bringing the leftover food to them. They are based in NYC with growing branch in MA. Dana recently became Greater Boston Area Coordinator for RLC and they have included a special page on their site dedicated to Massachusetts. RLC makes it easy to sign up and schedule pickups from any device on the go via their website-based platform, and they are actively working on an app to even further streamline the process.
FON’s earliest participants include popular local venues such as Fairmont Copley Plaza, Hampshire House and Granite Links Golf Club. Among FON’s first milestones was the High End Bride event at the State Room - it was an enormous event amongst industry professionals which had a huge amount of food leftover. Longwood Events Chef David Blessing agreed to donate to the Boston Rescue Mission, and he spoke to the group about his involvement and made awareness on a large scale.
Another concern businesses face is the added workload when donating leftovers. But no worries: all it takes is to put unused cuisine into an aluminum pan with a cover and include the contents and date. Even a ziplock will do. And then a simple push of a button to Rescuing Leftover Cuisine and they will come to the venue to pick up the food. Venues all over New England are getting on board. The Feeding of Neighbors initiative is expanding into the industry, with new developments moving us closer to food donation as being a Best Practice.
New England NACE members are encouraged to sign up as a Volunteer to pick up food throughout Massachusetts. Learn more about Feeding Our Neighbors, Tax Incentives, The Law, Rescuing Leftover Cuisine and more here.
In the years to come we in the Events Industry can be a primary part of what moves the needle of hunger forward, not only in New England but throughout the U.S. So join the conversation… Start by joining the Feeding Our Neighbors Facebook Group.
Check out a great video on Feeding Our Neighbors here.
Feeding Our Neighbors: www.NewEnglandFeedingOurNeighbors.org/RLC
Rescuing Leftover Cuisine: www.RescuingLeftoverCuisine.org/MA
Food Donation questions: email@example.com
Press Inquires: firstname.lastname@example.org
We at NACE would love to hear from you. In the comments below, let us know if you have any donation stories to tell or feedback on Feeding of Neighbors. Thank you for sharing!
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Ashley Kirouac has been an Event Sales Manager at Hyatt Regency Cambridge for three years, primarily selling and planning weddings along with other social events. She won Manager of the Year and was one of 100 Hyatt Hyachievers in Event Sales & Planning for 2016. A NACE member for 1 year, Ashley is now a proud Social Media Committee Member for NACE and enjoys blogging by uncovering knowledge and experiences from other NACE members. When not working she enjoys traveling and spending time with her friends and family. Contact Ashley with ideas for upcoming blog posts!