NORWALK, Conn. – Kevin Mullins has made it his mission to end food insecurity for as many Fairfield County families as he can. Now his organization, Community Plates, is taking its work to hungry Americans across the country.
“From the beginning we always knew we wanted to expand and be a nationwide organization,” says Mullins. “It was never an afterthought. We were determined to create a scalable platform that would work as well and as easily in a small town in Tennessee as it would in Chicago. And by combining technology and the dedication and passion of our volunteers, it has been possible.”
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), there are currently over 20 million Americans who cannot regularly supply the amounts and types of food necessary for healthy living. These millions include one in every five children under the age of 5.
And, according to Community Plates, there are over 100,000 food-insecure individuals in Fairfield County alone. More than half of them are ineligible for food stamps. Over the past year-and-a-half, Community Plates has been working to alleviate hunger in Fairfield County. Now, the group is ramping up efforts and poised for national expansion, with sites already up and running in Albuquerque, N.M., and Columbus, Ohio.
Combining its dedicated volunteer base with 21st century technology in the form of a smartphone app, Community Plates is able to bring wholesome food to families and individuals who would not otherwise have access to it. Volunteers pick up food from participating donors—in Fairfield County this includes markets like Trader Joe’s, Fairway Market and Whole Foods, and restaurants like Match and Barcelona — and deliver it directly to food pantries and other shelters where it is easily accessible to those in need, always on the same day. The food includes fresh produce, eggs, organic milk, poultry, meats and cheeses that are still good and edible but would find their way into dumpsters and trash bins were it not for the organization’s efforts.
“We have also seen a phenomenal need in places like New Haven County and Westchester County,” says Mullins. “And also lots of passionate people in those places who are ready to make a difference. So we will be launching in both those counties later this year.”
In 2013, Mullins says, the organization hopes to expand to places like San Antonio, Chicago, Orlando and St. Petersburg.
Community Plates and its more than 300 volunteers nationwide have rescued over 600,000 pounds of food to date. For more information on what the organization does and how to get involved, visit the Community Plates website.