Famine to Feast, a not-for-profit organization that will offer speedy food pickup and delivery to food pantries, will soon be open for business in Los Alamos.
Local residents Jaret and Jen McDonald, who founded the organization, shared their progress with the Rotary Club of Los Alamos the first week of November at the Los Alamos Golf Course Community Room.
Jaret, who is a Rotarian, explained the idea for Feast to Famine originated while he and his wife were on vacation. Rather than stay in hotels, the McDonalds rent vacation homes for their family.
This requires them to purchase a number of items including groceries. At the end of their trip, they have hundreds of dollars worth of food and other donatable items that have to be pitched, he said, and there is no time to locate a community food pantry because they have a plane to catch.
“That’s why we developed Famine to Feast,” Jaret told the group.
The McDonald’s figure vacationers can download an app, input items they would like to donate to local food pantries and have the food picked up and delivered. The idea expanded from just those on vacation and the McDonald’s said they started working on “how do we apply this to the real world.” As a result, they decided to use Los Alamos as their test bed to see how well the idea works.
Los Alamos is one of the wealthiest counties in the U.S. but hunger is still an issue, Jaret said. According to the Hunger Summit in Albuquerque, 11 percent of the Los Alamos community experiences “food insecurity,” meaning a person has the ability to purchase food but not necessarily enough food for every day. Additionally, the local food pantry LA Cares served 336 residents during a recent quarter. This spurred the McDonalds into action.
“Maybe we can make a difference,” Jaret said.
Many have shown support for the organization, including Lt. Gov. John Sanchez, he said. Several local entities and individuals also have lent a hand in Famine to Feast. Local resident Michael Ham volunteered to help the McDonalds create their app and former Los Alamos resident David Van Etten volunteered his time to help develop the Famine to Feast website.
Mandy Marksteiner also was hired on to assist initial business development. Plus, the Los Alamos Volunteer Association (LAVA) agreed to provide drivers to pick up the food donations.
To start off, the plan is to operate once a week. Participants can download the app or go to the website, faminetofeastnow.com, enter the food items they wish to donate, and provide their location. The food will be picked up, a tax donation receipt will be printed, and the items will be delivered to LA Cares. There will be a list on the website identifying what can and cannot be donated. Donations can also be made at http://conta.cc/1PjE2n7. The website, faminetofeastnow.com is still under development but the McDonalds planned to have the nonprofit operational after Thanksgiving.
Jaret said he sees this as a major benefit to LA Cares. It will provide the food pantry with a “very consistent amount of food on a regular basis.” This not only helps out LA Cares but also cuts down the volume of food waste.
“Our mission is to reduce food waste by 1 percent,” Jaret said, adding that working with LA Cares has been a great experience. “LA Cares has been wonderful” and its staff are “so smart … so dedicated.”