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Table to Table: A 15-year retrospective

BY GUEST OPINION | APRIL 04, 2011 7:20 AM

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Table to Table, Iowa City’s food-rescue organization, will celebrate its 15th anniversary this year. It is a milestone to be recognized, as well as a tribute to a community that has rallied around us and helped support our efforts to ensure that people in Iowa City and Johnson County do not go hungry.

Looking back, we recognize that our founders’ plan was simple, yet so visionary. Essentially, they took two problems — food that was going to waste, and hunger in our community — and used them to help solve each other. In the first year, volunteers used their own vehicles to rescue 44,000 pounds of food that otherwise would have been thrown away and distributed it to a handful of local agencies for use in their meal programs. In our 15 years of service, Table to Table has rescued more than 8.1 million pounds of food — more than 864,450 pounds in 2010 alone.

While our organization has grown through the years, the basic concept is still the same: Grocery stores, food warehouses, restaurants, and other businesses donate their excess foods, which we pick up and deliver to more than 26 local nonprofits and programs at no charge. The foods are then used in meal and food-distribution programs, and people in our community who are facing hard times are provided with free meals or groceries.

With the tremendous support and collaboration we’ve received, nutritious foods have become part of a local food system designed to combat hunger. We want to take this opportunity to offer a heartfelt thank-you to everyone who has facilitated and contributed to our success, including:

• Our Table to Table founders who 15 years ago sowed the seed that has grown into the organization we are today;

• The local and area businesses that have so generously provided us with ongoing donations of food;

• The volunteers who put their compassion into action 365 days per year by picking up and delivering donations to help others in need;

• The individuals, organizations, and businesses who have provided the financial contributions and essential funding necessary to keep our work going, and who have supported us in countless ways through our annual fundraising events;

• The board members, both past and present, who donate their time and talent to help guide the direction of our agency;

• The local nonprofits and organizations we work with who do an incredible job of completing the cycle by getting these foods to individuals and families who need it.

While we’re proud of the work we’ve done, it is pride tempered by the awareness that despite our best efforts, hunger is still an issue in our community, and the need is growing. There are people in Johnson County who struggle every day to put food on the table — children and single-parent families, as well as the elderly, sick, jobless, and homeless — many of whom never imagined they could find themselves in such need. As we embark on our next 15 years, we would like to ask you to join us in our fight against local hunger by extending your help and support as a volunteer, food donor, or financial contributor.

Also, we invite you to join us Thursday, April 7 to celebrate our 15th anniversary at our Annual Fundraising Dinner and Silent Auction at the University Athletic Club in Iowa City. Tickets are $50, and are available through Mercy on Call at (319)356-2767 or (800)358-2767.

Our motto says it all: Table to Table — it’s the right thing to do. We hope to see you there.

Bon appétit!

Bob Andrlik is the executive director of the Table to Table Food Rescue Organization.


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