This spring, many food service businesses temporarily closed or began operating at a reduced capacity, disrupting the local and regional food system. With fewer commercial and institutional outlets for food products, farms, manufacturers, distributors, and other entities along the supply chain are finding themselves with surplus food. At the same time, food rescue organizations that support people in need are looking for ways to increase efficiencies to meet demand.
One organization that has been working to address these challenges is Farm to Institution New England (FINE), a network of nonprofits and public & private entities that works to transform the food system. FINE has a searchable database of relevant resources, including COVID-19 Open Forums, and offers working groups for colleges & universities interested in connecting on food system topics. As COVID-19 began to disrupt existing supply chains, FINE also created a matchmaking spreadsheet designed to connect businesses with surplus food to entities that have the capacity to sell, store, process, or distribute it throughout the region.
Any business, institution, or non-profit in New England can view and add to the matchmaking spreadsheet. Organizations can use this tool to provide details about surplus food in their inventory or any capacity they have to accept food items. For example, restaurants, food service providers, and supermarkets can utilize this spreadsheet to source local ingredients as kitchens reopen. The spreadsheet also includes tabs to provide information on storage space, trucking & distribution, and labor wants and needs. Organizations provide their contact information so interested parties can connect them directly. As the food system continues to adapt to the impacts of COVID-19, FINE is actively discussing what a more robust tool would look like for connecting supply chains now and in the future. FINE welcomes input and collaboration ideas as they continue this work.
RecyclingWorks in Massachusetts (RecyclingWorks) provides free assistance to businesses and institutions across the state to help maximize recycling, reuse, and food recovery opportunities. To speak with a recycling and food waste expert, call our hotline: (888) 254-5525 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.