“Once you begin to work on the issue of hunger, you become keenly aware that it is a solvable problem. I am compelled to do my part. We, as a community can do better, we must do better,” says Potluck Food Rescue’s new executive director Sylvia Blain.
In December 2017, Blain was hired to lead the charge to fight hunger through Potluck’s simple mission of saving good food from being wasted and using it to feed hungry people. Experience as a founding member of the Arkansas Food Policy Council and work measuring food insecurity in the delta with Heifer International made Blain a prime candidate for the role.
However, it was the unique position of her background combined with a firsthand understanding of food wasted at conventions and meetings from her tenure with Little Rock Convention and Visitors Bureau that led to Blain’s immediate focus at Potluck — a call to the hospitality industry to recover food for the hungry.
“Hunger and waste are linked. You can reduce the impact of one by reducing the impact of the other. It’s a win-win,” Blain says. “I want to see Potluck grow to serve more hungry Arkansans by diverting even more food from the landfill.”
At 29 years old, Potluck has been on the forefront of the food rescue and recovery movement for decades. This year alone, it has already recovered 15,000 pounds of food.
According to Blain, education, planning and convenience are key to removing the roadblocks preventing commercial kitchens from donating extra edible food. Partnering with hotels and convention spaces to offer training and assistance on reducing food waste while collecting food donations from commercial kitchens leads to opportunities to recover tons of food that go to waste every day.
Potluck is also currently working with area farms and gardens to implement a “no waste” policy to use food that cannot be served as compost or animal feed.
“There are simply too many resources that go into producing our food to let them be wasted,” Blain explains. “It’s disrespectful to those that need the food, to the farmers, to the animals and to the natural resources that go into producing them.”
Not at All a Ball
Alternative to the traditional gala-type fundraiser, the annual Not at All a Ball beginning in mid-March allows supporters to stay home and send a donation of what they might have spent to attend a “swell soirée.”