Tag Archives: Food Rescue US

Roundup: Food Rescue, Harvest Fest, Shred It! …

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Last month, Allyson Stollenwerck and her 12-year-old son Walker attended Wakeman Town Farms’ “Attainable Sustainable” panel.

They heard about Food Rescue US. The nonprofit’s app enables volunteers to pick up unused food from local restaurants and markets, and bring it to social service agencies.

Allyson and Walker signed up. Their first assignment was to bring leftover donuts and pastries from Coffee An’ to the Westport Housing Authority on Canal Street.

“It was super simple,” they report. “Food Rescue emailed great instructions, and it was a quick trip. We hope others give it a try.”

I have no idea why Coffee An’ does not sell out every day. But if they — and any other food establishment in town — don’t, it’s great to know that Food Rescue can help. (Click here for more information on Food Rescue US).

Walker Stollenwerck, rescuing food from Coffee An’.

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Alan Nevas has had a very full life.

The longtime Westport lawyer is a former Connecticut state representative, US Attorney for the District of Connecticut, District Court judge, and — following retirement in his 80s — a special counsel attorney.

Now he’s got another accomplishment. At 93, was the oldest runner among nearly 1,200 in the traditional Chilmark Road Race on Martha’s Vineyard. He completed the hilly 3.1-mile course, in hot weather, in 1:08.37.6.

Congratulations, Judge Nevas! (Hat tip: Susan Filan)

Alan Nevas

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Everyone’s got documents to shred. And who doesn’t want to support cancer research?

Both come together on Saturday, September 18 (9 a.m. to noon, William Raveis Real Estate, 47 Riverside Avenue).

Raveis is sponsoring “Shred it for Cancer Research.” Your stuff will be shredded as you watch. You don’t even have to leave your car.

There’s a suggested donation of $5 per shopping bag, $10 per box, $20 for a large garbage bag (cash or check).

100% of every donation benefits the William Raveis Charitable Fund, Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

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How’s this for a delicious combination: The Westport Farmers’ Market, and MoCA Westport.

An opening reception for “Between the Ground and the Sky” — a collaboarative exhibition — is set for August 27 (6 to 8 p.m., MoCA).

Guests can meet featured artists, enjoy custom cocktails from Bar MoCA, and check out the great new garden.

“Between the Ground and the Sky” features more than 50 stunning large-scale photographs by Anne Burmeister and Ashley Skatoff from the Who Grows Your Food initiative — a photographic journey celebrating the farms and farmers associated with the Farmers’ Market.

The exhibition also includes two site-specific installations by Kristyna and Marek Milde and the naturalistic works of Donna Forma. Click here for more information.

From “Between the Ground and the Sky.”

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Speaking of food:

Wakeman Town Farm’s biggest fundraiser of the year features seasonal fare by local farmers and chefs — plus libations, live music and more. Auctions include culinary, garden and travel experiences.

“Harvest Fest” — held outside, under a tent — is set for September 11 (6 p.m.).

Funds support youth education programs and outreach, such as free camperships to youngsters from Horizons Bridgeport, and families with limited income. Click here for more information, and tickets.

Scenes from Wakeman Town Farm’s Harvest Fest.

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Lisa, Alan and Ellie Doran write:

“Yesterday was the 3-year anniversary of the day we lost Rachel. [The 2015 Staples High School graduate — a rising senior at Cornell University, National Merit Commended Scholar, talented Players costume designer, and founder of “Rachel’s Rags,” a company that makes intricate cotton and fleece pajama tops and bottoms — died following a rare reaction to common medications.]

“In our ongoing mission to support families with critically ill children, we are holding an outdoor, family-friendly event (October 2, 4 p.m., Compo Beach).

“Rachel’s grandfather “Pa” pledged to walk 1,000 miles in his 80th year to honor Rachel, and raise money for Rach’s Hope. Please join us October 2 to Walk the Extra Mile with Pa and Team Rach’s Hope (or just cheer us on).

“At the end of the 1-mile walk, we will gather to celebrate Pa’s feat — and all your love and dedication to our charity — with a pizza truck, live music by Ellis Island, and beverages. PJs are optional, but encouraged!”

Click here for more information, and to register or donate.

Rachel Doran’s grandfather gets ready to walk. You can too!

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Run, don’t walk:

The Great American Relay starts in Boston, and ends in Santa Monica, California. There are 415 stages through 18 states, over 38 days.

It starts on 9/11 — the 20th anniversary of that fateful day, and raises funds to support the military and first responders. Runners can dedicate their stage to a first responder or veteran they care about.

Last year, Westonite Jeffrey Wollman was a support runner, from Fairfield to Westport. An avid racer — he’s run 8 marathons since 2015 — he is also the Fleet Feet Westport training group coordinator, and one of their coaches.

He’s participating again this year, as the lead runner from Westport fire headquarters to the Darien Fire Department. He’ll start his 8.3-mile stage on September 13, just before noon.

Eight spots are still available. For more information, or to join or donate, click here.

Dave Wright (Fleet Feet Westport owner, left) and Jeffrey Wollman.

 

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The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum is in Ridgefield. But there’s a strong Westport presence.

Board chair Diana Bowes is a longtime Westporter. Betty Stolpen Weiner is the new director of development. Claudia Lonkin — the visitor experience manager — is also a substitute teacher at Staples. And executive director Cybele Maylone is the granddaughter-in-law of former Board of Education chair Joan Schine.

All are exited about the Aldrich’s Artists at the Table (October 1). The “farm-to-museum” dinner in the Sculpture Garden features a locally sourced 3-course dinner prepared by Hayfields Market Catering. Guests and artists share a meal, engage in conversation, and celebrate local flavors and contemporary art.

Click here for more information, and tickets.

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Jill Amadio has quite a resume.

The Westporter has been a reporter in Europe, Asia and the Americas; a communications director with NASCAR and the US Olympic ski program; a ghostwriter of 14 memoirs for clients like Rudy Vallee’s wife, a US ambassador, a nuclear physicist, oil baron and more; and a mystery series writer.

Her new novel, “In Terror’s Deadly Clasp,” is based on a true story. It provides a rare, chilling glimpse of terrorists’ daily lives in America as they enjoyed strip clubs, fast food, fat bank accounts and freedom from their religious rules while planning the 9/11 attacks.

For more information, click here.

Jill Amadio

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Tricia Freeman describes today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo:

“This bullfrog hangs out a foot from my dock on Nash’s Pond. He doesn’t flinch when people walk by (hence my ability to get a closeup). I guess he been here longer than we have, because he’s not budging!”

(Photo/Tricia Freeman)

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And finally … on this day in 1868, French astronomer Pierre Janssen discovered helium.

 

Composting And Cutting Food Waste: What Westport Needs To Know

COVID-19 has brought changes to Westporters’ relationships with food.

Supermarkets look and feel different. Some people avoid shopping inside altogether. More than we know rely on free food sources.

Few people, however, realize that 20% of Connecticut’s residential trash is food waste. Sustainable Westport challenges all residents to decrease that amount. Pippa Bell Ader offers these thoughts:

Start by getting to know the food you waste, and how to make the most of the food you have. Compost leftover food scraps, either at home, by paying a hauler to pick up your scraps, or trying the new, free food scraps recycling drop-off area at the transfer station beginning July 6.

Also, consider helping out with food rescue for those who are food insecure.

Webinars provide information on how to do all of this. The Westport Library, Earthplace and Sustainable Westport have partnered to inform the community about the Zero Food Waste Challenge. They include:

  • Eat More with Less (June 10, 4 p.m.)
    Learn about changes to make in planning  and preparing meals, and preserving food. Bridgeport-based Chef Raquel, a cooking educator and caterer, will guide participants through practical and actionable food tips and tricks.
  • Composting Basics with Alice Ely, master composter (June 15, 3 p.m.)
    To turn over a new leaf and decrease food waste, turn over some compost. Learn how to save water, reduce pollution and improve your garden, by making “black gold” at home.
  • Town of Westport Food Scraps Recycling (June 17, 3 p.m.) All you need to know about this new, free program. Find out what can and can’t be recycled.

Click here to register. (Webinars will also be recorded, and available later at www.sustainablewestport.org.)

Backyard composting is great. But if you lack the time, resources or energy to dispose of food scraps that way, you can still do your part for the environment.

On July 6, Westport launches a food scrap recycling program at the transfer station at 300 Sherwood Island Connector. All food scraps and some more will be welcome: fruits, vegetables, meat, fish, dairy, bread, rice, pasta, raw and cooked food, cut flowers, coffee grounds (and paper filters), paper tea bags, napkins, paper towels, wax paper and more. Click here and scroll down for a complete list.

Just collect food scraps and other items. (No tissues, please).Bring them in a lidded transportation bin to the transfer station’s specially marked “food scrap drop-off area.”

From the transfer station, material is taken to a commercial composting facility, where it’s turned into compost.

“Starter kits” are not required, but they make it easy. They include a countertop pail, storage and transportation bin, and compostable bags. A kit costs $25 (income-eligible discounts available), and can be picked up at Earthplace.

To order a kit, email ZeroWaste@SustainableWestport.org (put “Starter Kit” in the subject heading), or call 203-293-6320 and leave a message.

Home composting kit.

The transfer station is open Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., and Saturday 7 a.m. to 12 noon. Try to avoid drop-off on Saturdays and Mondays, the busiest times at the station.

Questions about any aspect of the Zero Food Waste Challenge? Click here, or email ZeroWaste@SustainableWestport.org

Unsung Heroes #137

Food Rescue US is one of those no-brainer, easy-to-do, why-didn’t-I-think-of-that ideas that dramatically impacts thousands of lives.

Begun in 2011 in Norwalk, and now operating in 13 states, it addresses an enormous problem: More than 50 million Americans are hungry. Yet we waste more than 40 billion meals each year.

The solution is staggeringly simple. Volunteer drivers bring fresh food that would have been thrown away by restaurants, grocers and other food industry sources in place like Westport, to shelters, kitchens and pantries in cities like Norwalk, Bridgeport and Stamford.

An app enables restaurants and retailers with extra food to request a pick up. Volunteers in the area are immediately pinged.

Almost 1,000 food rescuers in Fairfield County pick up food from 85 donors, and deliver to 80 social service agencies.

Westport ardently supports Food Rescue US. We have dozens of drivers. Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods participate.

Now the Westport Public Schools are involved too.

Elementary teachers Stacey Fowle (Greens Farms) and Ashley Moran (Saugatuck), along with Ben Lahey, assistant director of dining for district food service provider Chartwells, worked with the Staples High, Bedford Middle and Greens Farms and Saugatuck Elementary school cafeterias. All now save unused food.

Beh Lahey of Chartwells and Amber Egervari of Staples High School help load a Food Rescue US volunteer’s car.

Every Thursday, volunteers pick up the food, and bring it to the Gillespie Center downtown. They — and Stacey, Ashley, Ben and everyone else involved in this project — are this week’s Unsung Heroes.

Food Rescue US does great work. But the need is also great.

For more information — including how to volunteer — click here.

ONE MORE COURSE: Joining this week’s Unsung Heroes is Ellen Bowen.

The longtime Westporter has a condo in Miami. A year and a half ago — recognizing the enormous number of large venues like hotels and stadiums in the area — she helped start Food Rescue US there.

South Florida embraced the concept in a big way. They’ve already rescued over 300,000 pounds of food, from places like the Fontainebleau Hotel and after events like the South Beach Wine & Food Festival.

And — oh yeah — Super Bowl LIV.

Immediately following this winter’s big game, Food Rescue US picked up 35,000 pounds of food from hotels, restaurants, markets — even the Super Bowl Experience.

Well done, Ellen!

Food Rescue US — And Trader Joe’s — Deliver

Sunday’s storm devastated parts of Westport. One house was demolished; a Staples graduate was killed by a falling tree in Fairfield.

Yet in the midst of tragedy, rays of light shined through. Nicole Straight — Fairfield County site director of Food Rescue US, the app that uses volunteer drivers to move fresh, usable food that would be thrown away by restaurants and grocers, to shelters, kitchens and pantries — tells “06880” of one such story.

At 6 p.m. Sunday she was in New York, enjoying the Pride parade. The manager of Trader Joe’s texted. Their power was out — and they did not want to waste all the food that might go bad.

Nicole created a Facebook ask. Within minutes 5 Food Rescue US volunteers said they’d help.

One of the many Food Rescue deliveries.

They delivered food to Westport’s Gillespie shelter, and the Open Door Shelter in Norwalk. It was Sunday night; they were 2 of the few agencies that were open.

Yesterday morning, the Trader Joe’s manager called again. He had still more usable food. Four more volunteers quickly brought it to several local organizations.

Christy Colasurdo was one of those food rescuers. She says, “It was sad to see Trader Joe’s empty freezers. But it was wonderful to know that all that food that would have been tossed has been used.

“The Gillespie Center and other places were thrilled with the crate of frozen organic chicken, gourmet ravioli and breakfast foods. They said Food Rescuers had made 4 stops there today.

“Trader Joe’s could have taken the easy route and dumped everything. But they have big hearts. They always turn to Food Rescue US when they have surplus.”

(Food Rescue US-Fairfield County is the beneficiary of a special fundraiser. “Pools, Patios, Pergolas, a Luxury Tasting Event” — hosted by KMS Partners at Compass — is set for 5 to 9 p.m. on Saturday, July 13, 5 pm to 9 pm. Several Westport properties will showcase their pools, patios or pergolas. Each features a different award-winning caterer and specially designed drinks. Click here for tickets.)

Unsung Heroes #75

It takes a village to raise a child.

It also takes a village to distribute extra donuts, far and wide.

I’ve written before about Food Rescue US. That’s the amazing, app-based organization that enlists volunteers — whenever it’s convenient — to deliver extra food from restaurants, grocers, bakeries and caterers to soup kitchens, food pantries and other hunger relief organizations.

In fact, last April director Nicole Straight was our Unsung Hero #42.

But man does not live by fruits and vegetables alone.

A while ago, alert “06880” reader Marjorie Almansi asked Max Kupperberg — a Staples High School graduate, and Donut Crazy employee — what that very popular train station breakfast-and-more place did with their leftovers.

He quickly put her in touch with owner Joan Tuckman. Just as quickly, they got Food Rescue involved. Now — every day — those donuts find happy donated homes.

Donated donuts — especially Donut Crazy’s amazing varieties — bring smiles to everyone’s faces.

Three times a week, Latisha Williams brings them to Jettie S. Tisdale Elementary School in Bridgeport. She teaches 7th grade social studies there, and says that teachers she never knew before are all friendly to her now.

The donuts go to Westport’s Gillespie Center a few times a week too.

Marjorie often brings them to the custodians at Staples High School. If there are extras, she’ll give them to anyone else she sees.

So — on the eve of Thanksgiving — today’s Unsung Heroes are once again the wonderful Food Rescue US volunteers, and all the participants like Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods.

Plus director Nicole Straight, Donut Crazy, Latisha Williams and Marjori Almansi.

Those donuts are crazy!

Food Rescue: Simple Solution To A Tough Problem

The problem is staggering: Up to 40% of food in the United States is never eaten. At the same time, 1 in 8 Americans struggles to put food on the table.

The solution is staggeringly simple: Food Rescue US uses volunteer drivers to move fresh, usable food that would have been thrown away by restaurants, grocers and other food industry sources, to shelters, kitchens and pantries in Norwalk, Bridgeport and Stamford.

An app enables restaurants and retailers with extra food to request a pick up. Volunteers in the area are immediately pinged.

Food Rescue US is a national organization with a strong Westport presence. Over the past few years, more than 350 Westporters have helped.

Christy Colasurdo is one. At Trader Joe’s she loads fresh salads, breads,  sandwiches, milk, eggs, vegetables and fruits, then delivers it all to the Person to Person pantry in Norwalk.

On her first run, she filled her entire SUV. She was hooked.

Q104.3 disc jockey (and Westport resident, and super volunteer) Ian O’Malley (right) on a recent food run to the Gillespie Center.

The local Food Rescue group is run by dynamic Westporter Nicole Straight. She has 2 missions: match excess food with those who need it, and let everyone know how easy it is to help.

So on Monday, September 17 (6 p.m.), Wakeman Town Farm hosts a discussion about food waste in general, and Food Rescue specifically.

Panelists include Straight, chef Jes Bengtson of Terrain, and chef Jeff Taibe of Taproot restaurant. Sustainable food advocate Annaliese Paik will moderate.

The event includes local food donors from farms, restaurants and grocery stores. Light refreshments will be served.

Tickets are $25; $15 for Food Rescue volunteers. (Click here to purchase.) Proceeds benefit Food Rescue US.

Here’s an unexpected dessert: Each ticket is good for free entry to the October 21 screening of Anthony Bourdain’s documentary “Wasted!” (October 21, Town Hall, 6 p.m.).

That should be enough to convince you to volunteer for Food Rescue US — or at least go to the WTF panel.

If not, consider this recent note, received by local Food Rescue organizers:

I just want to say thanks, and tell you what the food donations mean to me. I get $192 a month in food stamps. It’s hard to stretch that amount over an entire month.

Getting food from Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s means a whole lot. This past Saturday we got a lot of good stuff (a lot of it vegan). One of my faves was the spicy falafel.

I look forward to the Saturday deliveries because there’s going to be something different each time. There’s always something I can use. Thank you!

(CT Bites is also a huge supporter of Food Rescue US. On September 29, they’re sponsoring a special “Kitchen Crawl,” featuring 4 local chefs in 4 designer homes, with cooking demos, great food, wine and beer. All proceeds benefit Food Rescue. Click here for details and tickets.)

Person to Person in Norwalk appreciates Trader Joe’s — and Food Rescue US’ — generous efforts.

Unsung Hero #42

Across Fairfield County, Food Rescue US volunteers are gearing up for April 25. That’s when the non-profit — which delivers extra food from restaurants, grocers, bakeries and caterers to soup kitchens, food pantries and other hunger relief organizations — throws its annual fundraiser. “Food For All” features amazing food and fun from over a dozen great restaurants, including Amis, Kawa Ni and Match Burger Lobster.

One of the volunteers working hardest on the event is Nicole Straight. But that’s no surprise. In the 4 years she’s been involved with Food Rescue US (formerly known as Community Plates), she’s saved untold tons of food.

And helped feed countless county residents.

A private chef, cookbook author and creator of Time to Eat! — a longtime cooking class for busy parents — Nicole is passionate about her volunteer work.

“In a community as fortunate as ours, it’s easy to oversee the invisible and sometimes uncomfortable hungry in our towns,” she told fellow food rescuer Ria Rueda.

“They are in Westport, Fairfield, Norwalk, New Canaan, Darien, Greenwich and Bridgeport. In the current culture, many people feel overwhelming powerlessness, a what-can-I-do feeling?”

Nicole Straight, rescuing food.

For Nicole, service means “boots on the ground” small acts. She loves helping her immediate community, easily and in under an hour.

Food rescue can be done alone, or with family or friends. An app allows anyone to find out when a food run is needed, 7 days a week.

“I love this job because it humanizes and connects me to people in our community I might never have met,” Nicole says.

Since becoming site director in 2016, Nicole has increased the volunteer base from 300 to 500.

But food rescue is not all she does.

Nicole volunteers weekly at the Cesar Batalla School in Bridgeport.

Nicole Straight, with students at Cesar Batalla School.

And she teaches poker at Westport’s Senior Center.

Which is just one more reason we are proud to “hand” this week’s Unsung Hero award to the very aptly named Nicole Straight.

(For more information on the “Food for All” fundraiser, and tickets, click here. For more information on Food Rescue US, click here. To nominate an Unsung Hero, email dwoog@optonline.net)

Take A Bite Out Of Hunger

As Westport heads toward the holidays, many of us will dine well.

We’ll enjoy meals at fine restaurants, with friends, family and colleagues. It’s the most wonderful time of the year.

But it’s not such a great time for our neighbors who are hungry. So, as we eat and drink, we should also look for this logo:

“Hunger Bites” is a month-long campaign to end local hunger. Co-sponsored by Food Rescue US — a national organization (with a strong Westport presence) that moves fresh, usable food that would have been thrown away by restaurants and grocery stores to families that desperately need it — and the CTBites website, the month-long drive is a way to make a donation on your restaurant bill. It goes directly to folks in need.

With the cost of delivery just 5 cents a meal, adding just $1 to your check provides 20 meals.

National board member (and Westporter) Simon Hallgarten notes that this is far below the norm for most food non-profits. Food Rescue US is so efficient because there is no cost of storage or delivery. They crowdsource their volunteers, so there is no direct cost for pickup or delivery.

Participating restaurants in Westport include The Cottage, Jesup Hall, Kawa Ni, Match Burger Lobster, Tarry Lodge, The Whelk and Winfield Coffee & Deli.

We’ve got a lot of choices for great dining over the next few weeks. Those places should be on everyone’s list.

Food Rescue US Sinks Deep Westport Roots

If you’re like me, you’ve probably given little — if any — thought to the enormous amount of food that restaurants and grocery stores throw away every day.

If you’re like Simon Hallgarten and Stephanie Webster though, you have.

The Westporters — he’s a founding partner of Northview Hotel Group, she’s editor-in-chief of CTbites — are national board members of Food Rescue US.

The organization — known until this past January as Community Plates — fills a simple, important, why-didn’t-I-think-of-that mission: moving fresh, usable food that would have been thrown away by restaurants, grocers and other food industry sources, to families that desperately need it.

The national Food Rescue US group has a strong local presence. Under Hallgarten and Webster’s leadership, Westport has become a big town for food donors — and as “food rescuers.”

Whole Foods cannot possibly sell all its food. It’s a leader in offering its unused goods to people in need.

Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods and Fresh Market are longtime donors. Many smaller stores and restaurants participate too.

Right now, 40 Westport volunteers transport food to shelters, kitchens and pantries in Norwalk, Bridgeport and Stamford. Over the past few years, more than 350 Westporters have helped.

Many bring their children on food rescue missions. “It’s an important lesson for our kids who otherwise are sheltered from the harsher side of life, and the struggles that many families go through every day,” Hallgarten — who started his career as a chef — says.

Ziggy Hallgarten — Simon’s son, an All-State soccer goalkeeper and current lacrosse player at Staples — and his younger brother Ollie are food rescuers.

Ollie Hallgarten, with a vehicle full of donated (“rescued”) food.

“It’s an easy way to give back to a large community at once,” Ziggy says. “With an hour’s worth of driving, you can change the lives of so many.”

On his first run with his dad 2 years ago, Ziggy was shocked to see some of his favorite foods — perfectly edible — about to be thrown away.

They filled the back of their station wagon, and drove “pounds and pounds of food” from a New Canaan grocery store to a Stamford homeless shelter.

“The locations of my deliveries changed during the couple of years I’ve been a food rescuer,” Ziggy says. “But the priceless smiles of the recipients when I’ve driven up with boxes of food never ceases to amaze me.”

He brought friends on runs too, showing them the feasibility — and ease — of saving otherwise wasted food.

Though Food Rescue US is a volunteer driven (ho ho) operation, there are of course administrative and other costs. So this year’s fundraiser — “Food for All 2017: An Evening to End Hunger” — is very important.

Set for next Wednesday (April 26, 6:30 p.m., The Loading Dock in Stamford), it features over 15 tasting plates from top Fairfield County chefs, along with beer, wine and craft cocktails. Every $1 donated helps cover 20 rescued meals.

Westport sponsors for Wednesday’s fundraiser include Whole Foods, Moffly Media, and the Elizabeth and Joseph Massoud Family Foundation. Fleishers Craft Kitchen and Whole Foods are among the participating food vendors.

“Hunger is an issue that can be fixed,” Simon Hallgarten says. “Food Rescue US’ goal of ending hunger in not a crazy pipe dream. It’s a reality — if we reach critical mass in the next decade.”

In Westport — thanks to so many restaurants, stores and volunteers — we’re almost there.

(For more information on the April 26 “Food for All” fundraiser, including tickets, click here.)