The little-known, non-profit organization helps people in 3 states (Connecticut, Ohio and New Mexico) donate time, money — and food itself — to lessen the impact of hunger.
Americans throw away between 25 and 40 percent of our food supply. CommunityPlates moves fresh food that would have otherwise be tossed from homes, restaurants, stores and farms, to places it can make a difference: shelters, soup kitchens, food banks and food pantries.
Siobhan Crise is a Community Plates “food runner.” Whenever she can, she clicks on her CP app. She sees which “runs” need doing locally.
She might grab 6 crates of the previous day’s fruit and bread products from the Trader Joe’s loading bay, and take it to the Gillespie Center. Or head from Bartaco to Norwalk’s Person-to-Person.
Thanks to the app, donors know their food will be picked up. Receiving agencies know fresh food (including meat) is coming in.
“The people who run Community Plates, and the ones you meet — especially at the agencies — are wonderful. Talk about dedication!” Siobhan says.
“And the runners are a really fun and diverse bunch.”
Siobhan likes the convenience of creating her own schedule. If she misses a week — even a month — no one harasses her. “It’s like NPR,” she says. “You give what you can.” (She does admit, “Some Catholic guilt kicks in if I miss a couple of weeks in a row.”)
She likes volunteering in her “scruffiest gym/kickboxing clothes.”
And, Siobhan says, “I can do it with my kids. I won’t pretend it’s their favorite task ever. But it’s important to me that they understand that Westport is an extremely wealthy, and in many ways unusual, town. ”
Like all of us, Siobhan is busy. She wishes she had more hours to dedicate to the community. But Community Plates offers “so much bang for my volunteering buck. There’s no talking, no planning, no meeting, no egos, no blah blah blah. Just doing.”
Her favorite run is to the Thomas Merton House in Bridgeport. Watching people line up for their food allowance, Siobhan knows the fresh food she brings will be on their dinner table that night.
“They eat better because I had a spare hour and some wheels,” she says. “Am I selfish to say this makes me feel good?”
No, Siobhan. Not selfish at all. Because volunteering for Community Plates makes everyone feel good.
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