Ashley Stanley believes people need to think more about what already exists, rather than the things we don’t have.
This is an important point to Stanley, the founder of Lovin’ Spoonfuls. Her nearly five-year-old Boston nonprofit collects fresh food that would otherwise end up in the trash, delivering it to homeless shelters and other nonprofits where it is needed.
Lovin’ Spoonfuls reached an important milestone last year, surpassing a million pounds of food collected and redistributed. It was all done by a small staff and handful of truck drivers, including Stanley. Lovin’ Spoonfuls hopes to rescue another million pounds of discarded food this year.
“We’re bombarded with this idea there’s not enough, whether it’s food, clothing, money, toys,” Stanley said. “It’s this message of ‘there’s not enough.’ I wanted to challenge that idea.”
Stanley, 35, grew up in Wellesley. She said her grandparents helped shape her ideas as a young girl about the power of food to bring people together.
Growers, supermarkets, and restaurants all waste lots of food, throwing away more than 40 percent of their products, Stanley said, citing government statistics. Food is often trashed simply because of superficial flaws. Globally, she said, about a third of all food is tossed.
Lovin’ Spoonfuls uses three refrigerated trucks to make same-day deliveries from businesses with too much food (such as Flour Bakery & Cafe, Stop & Shop Supermarkets, and Allandale Farm) to places where people need it (including Boston Rescue Mission, Catholic Charities of Boston, and Rosie’s Place).
That’s a lot of perfectly good quiche, day-old bread, and sandwiches rescued from dumpsters daily.
Stanley said there is enough food to solve — or at least put a big dent in — problems close to home. About 800,000 Massachusetts residents, including 200,000 children have “limited or unsure access to adequate food, ” according to the Department of Agriculture.
“We talk about massive global poverty, diseases that we can’t cure, medicine we can’t afford, things we can’t figure out how to address,” Stanley said. But “not wasting food is probably the most solvable problem we have right now in the world.”