Ashley Stanley, owner of Loving Spoonfuls, is single-handedly trying to repurpose food, but expired and almost expired food to the homeless shelters in Boston, Mass.. After a large family dinner during the holidays, Ashley walked into their kitchen and realized that it was full of uneaten food beyond leftovers.
“I had an Ah-ha moment,” Ashley said. “What happens to all the food that’s leftover and not purchased at grocery stores?”
Thus began her company, Loving Spoonfuls, and her desire to help. Ashley left her corporate job and began research of what could benefit the Boston shelters.
After careful assessment and multiple conversations with the shelters in need, she created an organization that picks up good but expired or almost expired fresh foods like strawberries, Clementine’s and even mushrooms. Ashley then delivers the food to shelters, such as Pine Street Inn, which is an organization that helps those who are trying to get back on their feet.
On Ashley’s first pickup, she wasn’t sure what to expect. She drove her car up to the loading zone and awaited the arrival. She was overwhelmed by the grocery store when they offered around 600 pounds of delicious fresh whole foods that were otherwise going to be thrown away. (By grocery store standards and expiration dates the food was no longer viable for the shelves or for their consumers.) Ashley saw this food in a different light and felt that if it was put to immediate good use it could feed thousands.
Pine Street Inn is merely an example of her hard work put to good use. They feed over 2,100 hot meals a day and, thanks to Ashley and her contributions, they’re able to spend less money on groceries and more in other areas that need attention for their homeless community.
“A positive beginning and maintaining a good relationship with the people of our community starts with a hot, nutritious meal,” said Susan Miskell, manager of Pine Street Inn. “The first step to feeling better is by eating a healthy meal.”
After reading this you might feel very uncomfortable about expired food, but as a chef I know that some expiration dates are merely guidelines. It takes smell, touch and even taste to decide whether something is still edible.
I did a small experiment with milk in my home kitchen. The first week I placed my token carton of milk in my refridegerator. I was very diligent about immediately putting away the milk after each use. I also placed it in the back of the refrigerator to keep it as cold as possible. When the expiration date rolled around, and a few days following, the milk was still good. The next week I had a new carton and instead of being cautious and placing it back in the fridge immediately, I let it sit out for a few extra minutes after each use. It went bad three days early because of my improper handling. You have to be a good judge to decide if food is edible or not despite the expiration date.
Ashley is a pro at repurposing fresh foods and is an example to the rest of the country on how a small change can make a big difference.
“Fresh foods should be a right, not a privilege,” Ashley said. “As a country, it costs us a billion dollars to burn 96 billion pounds of food each year.*”
By simply repurposing foods, we can help make a big impact and eradicate hunger in this country. Everyone should be able to eat and feel good about what they’re eating.
So the next time you clean out your fridge, take a second look to see if what you’re throwing out is really expired.
To help Loving Spoonfuls or Pine Street Inn, please click on the links and go to their Web site to find out more information. Though food is always good to donate, they both really need money donations to keep up all their hard work.