Lovin’ Spoonfuls is a food rescue. It’s a company committed to keeping good food from going to waste and improving access to healthy food for people who need it. Lovin’ Spoonfuls picks up perishable food (like fresh produce, dairy, lean proteins and more) that would otherwise be discarded from big-shelf retailers and distributes it, same day, to nonprofits serving people facing food insecurity. In this way, Lovin’ Spoonfuls helps keep the value in food and the people who eat it.
“What sets Lovin’ Spoonfuls apart,” says Ashley Stanley, founder and executive director, “is that we operate in a way that truly values not just what we’re trying to do, but the people trying to do it.”
The granddaughter of Holocaust survivors, Stanley says she heard stories first-hand (likely the last generation to do so) of refugees coming to this country and of her own family not having enough, “putting together what they could find and making what they had stretch. It was a fundamental lesson in how we value things and people. A Jewish principle, ‘tikkun olam,’ speaks to repairing the world. There are so many unsolvable problems in our world, but food waste doesn’t have to be one of them.”
It’s this indomitable spirit toward taking care of others that led Insperity Business Performance Advisor Igor Rodriguez to nominate the nonprofit as a 2021 Community Hero. “They are the epitome of an Insperity client as far as aligning with our mission. And they’re doing more than a few things for their community. The people are selfless and constantly innovating. Lovin’ Spoonfuls goes above and beyond.”
The company also speaks to Rodriguez’ heart. “I come from a third-world country where I’ve seen poverty up close, and there’s nothing like starvation.”
Stanley emphasizes that food rescue is not a new idea, dating to biblical times. “But making it relevant and evolving and doing it in a way that’s sustainable, makes an impact and competes in the modern world of business and commerce and supply chain keeps me passionate (about our mission).” Lauren Palumbo, chief operating officer of Lovin’ Spoonfuls, matches Stanley’s passion. “What keeps me excited is the passion that drives our team. We have an incredible group of people who are fully committed and wear their values on their sleeves. Creating a work environment that supports them and gives them the tools to do their jobs, while continually improving, that keeps me driven.”
The focus at Lovin’ Spoonfuls during the past 12 years has been a refinement of their evolution to connect the value of food to the value of people within their community. “We are a logistics company, making sure food gets to where it needs to be,” Stanley said, “but we’re moving away from the traditional charitable framework of ‘anything is better than nothing’ by making sure we’re not just moving food from one place to another. We work intentionally to match food with folks who need it.
“We get to know our partners to gain a clear understanding of how they operate, who they distribute food to and what type of food their clients are interested in. It doesn’t remain a charitable transaction, but an improvement in the way we communicate with our community at large.”
Stanley and Palumbo’s desire to also be intentional about internal company culture led them to Insperity. “How do we improve our internal relationships, make sure we can offer folks a reason to stay, and make sure our work environment is sustainable for business and for someone’s career path? That’s where we found a sweet spot with Insperity,” Stanley said.
“Lauren is the engine that makes our day run,” Stanley said, “and I want to give my leadership team the autonomy to make decisions that fall in line with our values. Insperity lets them do that by giving us tools and a clear path to resources to be able to make good decisions.”
Knowing that the values of Lovin’ Spoonfuls and Insperity are closely aligned “was frankly a cherry on the relationship,” Stanley said, and being named an Insperity Community Hero “made my staff feel special and connected (with Insperity). It was awesome to be part of this celebration. The bulk of our folks got involved and participated in it, and they understand what an honor and recognition this is.”
Also special is the fact that the Boston for-profit honoree, Yield10 Bioscience, donated its $5,000 charitable contribution to Lovin’ Spoonfuls, a company with which it was previously unacquainted. “We understand this is an unusual donation situation, but there is a clear business connection. The practicality of our missions is aligned, and Insperity did a great job explaining to each company the value proposition of the other,” Palumbo said.
“There was connection and value for both of us. We’re equally happy receiving their donation and knowing it came from a company working on food supply and production in a responsible way. And they care about what we’re doing on the other side.” Perhaps another example of ‘tikkun olam?’ “In the end, it comes down to relationships,” Stanley said.