It’s Full Speed Ahead for Lovin’ Spoonfuls after a Year of COVID
March 26, 2021 — While coronavirus vaccinations offer hope that the pandemic may be receding, food insecurity is likely to remain a critical issue for the foreseeable future, which means more work for Lovin’ Spoonfuls, a Boston-based nonprofit that recovers and distributes healthy, perishable food that otherwise would be discarded.
Founded in 2010, Lovin’ Spoonfuls last week delivered its 20 millionth pound of food, to the Everett Grace Food Pantry, which reflects a ramp up in operations. The organization now delivers about 350,000 pounds of food each month, up from 300,000 pounds a year ago.
“While hope is on the horizon from the pandemic, we know food insecurity will remain for years to come, and the need for access to fresh, healthy food remains,” said Lauren Palumbo, the organization’s chief operating officer.
What that means is Lovin’ Spoonfuls expects to add to staff across the board, building on the growth of the past year.
Last March, the nonprofit had 23 employees, including two part-timers. Now it has 26, including three part-time staff.
Palumbo said she projects her operational budget for fiscal 2021 will grow 19% over 2020’s level. Total spending, inclusive of the value of the food rescued and distributed, was $7.7 million in 2019.
To accommodate that growth, Lovin’ Spoonfuls added two full-time positions to its development team and bolstered marketing and operations with another full-time position – funded by special COVID-specific initiatives like the Boston Resiliency Fund, as well as increased individual, corporate, and community foundation support.
“That growth in support fueled our expansion and positioned us for continued growth in the year ahead,” Palumbo said. “This was so necessary, as our fundraising events, prior to COVID, were projected to generate more than 30% of our revenue, and overnight, those opportunities disappeared.”
Operations have remained essentially the same for Lovin’ Spoonfuls since the pandemic erupted (with the addition of personal protective equipment and social distancing). Team members pick up food from vendor partners—grocery stores, wholesalers, and big box stores—and distribute it to more than 170 nonprofit partners across Massachusetts the same way it did before the pandemic.
The growth in food volume distributed was due largely to the addition of a new route, north of Boston, in communities hit hardest by COVID, including Chelsea, Everett, Lynn, and East Boston.
Lovin’ Spoonfuls never missed a beat over the last year, because, according to Palumbo, the organization was prepared to act on a number of fronts, including ensuring employees’ health and safety.
“We did what many did, in sending our office/administrative staff members to work from home, but we also put measures in place to protect our front line. We gave everyone at least one day to take and sort out what they needed for their own personal safety and that of their families as we all learned how our individual worlds were changing,” Palumbo said.
Lovin’ Spoonfuls, with the support of a family foundation, also introduced hazard pay for frontline workers, and began ordering food in bulk to send home with staff to limit their exposure at the grocery store.
Currently, Lovin’ Spoonfuls, at its expense, tests all employees weekly to forestall any community transmission of the virus, and to keep employees and their families safe. It also is incentivizing all staff to get vaccinated.
The last year also spurred Lovin’ Spoonfuls to expand its diversity, equity, and inclusion work, including holding workshops for the team and creating community advisory boards in the regions where it works.
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