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Daniel’s Table tackles food insecurity, one town at a time

In Framingham, David Blais chatted with children who were waiting for grilled cheese sandwiches.

Suzanne Kreiter/Globe staff/File 2014

In Framingham, David Blais chatted with children who were waiting for grilled cheese sandwiches.

It was 50 years ago, but David Blais still feels the effects of the food insecurity he experienced as a child. It was during a time when, after his parents’ divorce, he moved with his mother and two older siblings into an apartment in Salem furnished only with two lawn chairs and a television his mother had won in a raffle.

Now the owner of Foodie Café in Framingham with his wife, Alicia, Blais is driven to solve food insecurity one town at a time — beginning in Framingham. The couple are the founders of Daniel’s Table, the nonprofit organization named for their son who died at birth in 1995.

Q. How did Daniel’s Table start?

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A. When we opened the Foodie Café in Framingham, we couldn’t help but see the need for a food program that assisted the disadvantaged. We started three years ago, and since that time, we’ve gone from distributing 225 meals a month to 15,000 meals a month.

Q. How does it work?

A. Every Thursday, I pick up 5,000 pounds of food from the Greater Boston Food Bank and our volunteers pack and deliver 584 bags so every child at the Woodrow Wilson Elementary School has food for the weekend. We also use our trailer to deliver hot meals into the neighborhoods of South Framingham.

Q. How are you expanding?

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A. We just received our second food trailer, and we were awarded a $157,000 grant from the MetroWest Health Foundation that allows us to hire more staff and purchase more equipment. We also built DT Kitchen, a 6,500-square-foot facility that allows us the room to prepare the food necessary to reach our goal.

Q. What are you striving for?

A. The idea is to create a self-sustainable model other cities can follow. Within three years, we hope to be totally self-funding through social enterprises like DT Kitchen catering services and other efforts. Until then, we will look for supporters to walk alongside us in this all-out effort.

Q. Why continue to do it?

A. When we’ve created a food-secure environment in Framingham, and we get a call from another city or town that wants to emulate our model, that’s when we’ll feel like we’ve accomplished our mission. Until then, I feel that it is my responsibility to end food insecurity in Framingham. That makes us and our efforts through Daniel’s Table unstoppable.

For more information, visit danielstable.org.

Cindy Cantrell can be reached at cindycantrell20@gmail.com.
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