Headquartered in Boston, Lovin’ Spoonfuls (not to be confused with the 1960s band) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to rescuing and distributing healthy, fresh food that would otherwise be discarded.
Lovin’ Spoonfuls delivers the food directly to community organizations, with the ultimate goal of alleviating hunger. It picks up food donations from 50 businesses and delivers food to 67 agencies.
The focus is on fresh fruits and vegetables, lean proteins and whole grains. Since 2010, the Lovin’ Spoonfuls team has rescued and distributed more than 2 million pounds of fresh food in the Boston area, feeding more than 500,000 people.
Every week day, four drivers set out in the group’s temperature-controlled trucks to pick up excess food from grocery stores, farms and other food establishments. The drivers deliver the items to local nonprofit partners like homeless shelters and soup kitchens such as Pine Street Inn, Boston Rescue Mission and Haley House as well as other social assistance agencies like Respond and Community Servings.
Lauren Palumbo, COO of Lovin’ Spoonfuls, and her staff are working directly with grocery store chains like Hannaford Supermarkets, Whole Foods Market and Trader Joe’s to set up and operate food rescue programs.
Palumbo says the service is pro-retail business with no charges or fees; a tax deduction; and no insurance liability for food donations. Businesses also are eligible for enhanced federal tax deductions when the product is donated to a qualified nonprofit. For example, the IRS Revenue Code allows qualified business taxpayers to deduct the cost to produce the rescued food, and half the difference between the cost and full market value of it.
Palumbo says, for business donors, food rescue offers many solutions, including economic profits through tax breaks and reducing waste disposal costs—all while helping people in need and aiding sustainability efforts, especially when it comes to landfill space.
As more cities and states implement food waste bans, such as the Massachusetts Commercial Food Waste Ban, supermarkets will need to find alternative methods of allocating their leftover food, according to Lovin’ Spoonfuls. By partnering with food rescue organizations, supermarkets can ensure compliance with such state bans and avoid unnecessary and costly fines.