Monday, December 16, 2013

Tis...the end of the season.

Here it is, the last newsletter of the fall 2013 semester. I think we're all asking ourselves where the time went -- as we always do -- and what on Earth the next semester will bring. As far as FRN goes, we hope to see your faces again next year! We will be looking for somenew people on the LT and Supervisors will be getting some new responsibilities. A commitment form for next semester will be sent out over break, and it will include a section on feedback if you want to let us know how you thought the semester went. Applications for the LT and such will be sent later on. 

From the whole LT, we thank you SO much for your help this semester; we couldn't have done it without you! We hope the new structure worked well for you all and improvement will continue to be made.

To leave you all with one last thought: what would you propose FRN do, so that we can eventually not exist? Read Rosalie's article below and let us know what you think.

Have a wonderful break!

*This semester is my (Charlotte) last on the LT, but I'll see you all in the future as a fellow Rep! 

The Weight of the World

by Rosalie Kissel (Rep)
     For the past few months (my first months at Brown), my food-centric student activities have taught me a great deal.  In my other clubs, I have gotten to turn compost, work at the student garden, discuss labor rights issues, and meet some fantastic and dedicated individuals.  But my first FRN delivery gave me something entirely unique. During that first Monday night pickup, I felt that I was making a difference in the greater Providence community.  What I did was so small.  I lifted a few boxes, carried a few bags, walked a few blocks.  But I got to be a part of a national organization that has saved over 96,000 meals from being wasted and consequently warded off hunger 96,000 times.  The weight of the box in my arms and the wafting smell of croissants made me feel that tangible good was coming from what I did, what we all were doing together.
     From the time I was seven until I was almost seventeen I volunteered at the Potter League for Animals, an animal shelter in Middletown, Rhode Island. A few years ago, the shelter was entirely rebuilt to accommodate more animals, enhance the building’s level of sustainability, and provide a more comfortable environment for the people and creatures that spent their days there.  One day, while walking some dogs in the field out back, I turned to my mother, a fellow volunteer, and asked, “If you could wish one thing for the new shelter, what would it be?”
     “I wish it didn’t have to exist,” she replied. In an ideal world, no one would leave their dog when they moved away, no cats would be found wandering the streets, no owners would be abusive.  In an ideal world, all animals would be wanted and cared for, and there would be no need for the Potter League.
     As a volunteer for FRN, I can see that the organization’s ultimate dream is that it won’t have to exist; not only that food won’t be wasted, but also that the shelters we serve won’t need to exist either. When thinking of what it will take to reach a point in America’s history where organizations like FRN won’t have to exist, it is easy to be overwhelmed by the enormity of the task at hand.  At times, I wonder if I am really helping at all.  It is commonly acknowledged that modern hunger in America is not caused by a lack of food, but rather by the inability of individuals and families to regularly afford food.  There is more than enough food to nourish every Providence man, woman, and child at the Urban League, the McAuley House, and all of the organizations we serve.  The problem is not quantity, it is access.  I understand this now.  No matter the number of days Victoria (my pickup partner) and I bring in over twenty pounds of food from the Blue Room, we will not solve the problems of poverty, violence, and food insecurity in America; we cannot ensure that every member of the Providence community gets healthy, fresh food on a regular basis. 
     Having realized the enormity of the social ills FRN is addressing, by my second delivery weight of the box in my arms and the wafting smell of croissants did not make me feel quite so good. Yes, I would help feed people that night, but what was I doing to help make their lives better in the long run? I felt discouraged.  The next day, I picked up a book in my room – “On Virtues,” a book written by Rhode Island Senator Sheldon Whitehouse.  I flipped to a page that I had bookmarked over the summer.  On the page was a quotation from Edmund Burke, a great eighteenth century Irish political thinker. It read: “Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could only do a little.”
     After reading that quotation a few times over, it finally sunk in: I shouldn’t get bogged down in the magnitude of what FRN is addressing.  I should do my part and feel good about it. Just because I cannot fix everything that is wrong with America, does not mean that I shouldn’t try to help those in need.  Now, I take pride in what I get to do every Monday: “a little.” Each and every week, the other volunteers and I are working bit by bit to create something wonderful, a world in which the Food Recovery Network does not have to exist.  

Sunday, December 1, 2013

December 1st

by Charlotte Hacke (LT Coordinator)

The beginning of the last month of the year. The month of the (official) beginning of winter, and of course of the holiday that seems to be looming over us throughout the entire year: Christmas. What does this all mean for most of us? Cold weather, snow, and time for vacation/family. However, what would this mean for many of our community partners? A  search for winter coats & open shelters. Luckily, there are a few opportunities in Providence for these two things.


  • There was a drive for coats on Black Friday. Check out the story here.
  • Coats for coffee: Seven Stars & Courtesy Cleaners team up to donate a cup of coffee to each person who donates a winter coat! Coats are still available at the South Side Girls & Boys Club in Providence. Full story is here
In terms of shelters, they are squeezing in as many people as they can (as always). Special Christmas dinners will happen in most of them, but more info on that later. For now, bagels are a good way to pack on the pounds for the cold winter months to come! 

New Partnership: Crossroads Shelter

 by Shelby Wilson (LT Coordinator)

Starting next semester nightly donations will be delivered to Crossroads Shelter in place of Urban League. Crossroads is a multi-faceted organization that provides crisis intervention, case management, temporary housing and shelter, education and vocational services, and health and dental care. Within the shelter program there are three separate centers, “Operation First Step Emergency Assessment Shelter,” a women’s shelter, and a family shelter. Additionally Crossroads maintains five separate transitional housing facilities, providing the formerly homeless an avenue back into stable living environments. Chef Dave Rocheleau is enthusiastic to partner with FRN this spring, and will be a great resource for those who seek additional opportunities for direct service. 

The Value of a Bagel

by Leah Haykin (Rep)

   I have now been a volunteer with FRN at Brown for about two months. In that short amount of time, my weekly shifts have taught me the true value of a single bagel.
   When I first got my shift with FRN, I was somewhat disappointed. Sunday nights? That is prime homework time! And picking up from Poppy’s in the Nelson Fitness Center? That’s across campus! However, as I walked to my first shift, I grew excited for the large bags and boxes filled with food that I would surely find waiting for me, to ultimately be delivered to those suffering from food insecurity in Providence.
    I was certainly not expecting what happened when I finally arrived at Poppy’s. I opened the sliding doors of the eatery wearing my telling FRN pin. The BuDS worker working the closing shift looked at me, deadpan, and gestured toward the empty shelves beside him. “There’s nothing left today,” he said. And so I began my oh-so-long walk back home, clearly defeated by my high expectations of saving the world with bagels and croissants.
     The following months proved more of the same. On the luckiest of days, I would pick up three pounds of baked goods. More often than not, however, I would pick up about a pound of baked goods—equivalent to say, three bagels.
     Three bagels. Is that really worth it? Is it really worth the half hour of walking, not to mention lost study time? At the beginning, my answer to both of these questions was tending towards “no.”
      My parents very much believed in the importance of instilling a sense of social justice in my sister and me. As such, they took us to volunteer at a homeless shelter in downtown Portland, Oregon, every week. One memory in particular stands out.
      One night, after volunteering at the shelter, my sister and I stood outside waiting for my father to pick us up. As we waited a man, clearly homeless, began to talk with us. Without the structure of the shelter I was afraid at first. “Please,” he begged, “please can you ask them to bring me food? Please?” By “them,” he meant the shelter. The shelter was closed; there was nothing that we could do. But as we waited, we continued to talk. His name was Dan. He was an injured Vietnam veteran with psychological issues; he was convinced that he was an astronaut, among other things. He had waited in line for three days in a row hoping to get into the shelter without success. The only thing he had to eat in those three days was a doughnut from Voodoo Donuts, a Portland landmark.
       As the weeks and months progressed and I truly began to question whether my weekly excursions to Poppy’s were worth it, I began to think about Dan, and the value of something as seemingly small as a single donut or a single bagel. Spending a half hour to retrieve three bagels may seem cumbersome to someone like me—middle class, Ivy League-educated, relatively privileged me. But to those who are not so lucky, a single bagel could mean so, so much more. Since having this realization, weekly trips to Poppy’s don’t feel so long, and small deliveries feel all the more important.
        And that is how FRN taught me the value of a single bagel.