By Michaela Johnston
Interview with Amethyst Carey
Daily Table, a not-for-profit retail store based in Dorchester, opened its doors on June 4, 2015. The store offers affordable produce and quick meals prepared on site to those who need it most. Their mission is to solve hunger by reducing the “environmental impact of wasted food” in the Greater Boston community.
How did Daily Table get its start?
We were founded by Doug Rauch, he was the past president of Trader Joe’s. We were founded when he was aware of these two pressing social issues. One [being] that we waste an extraordinary amount of food in this country, around 40 percent of what we grow is not being eaten or put to good use. And then, hunger is a huge issue. 1 in 8 households in the United States is food insecure. He wanted to take the issue of wasted, perfectly good, nutritious wholesome food to address the issue of hunger and that’s how he came up with the idea for our store.
Where does the food come from?
A lot of the food that we get is short coded food, food that is close to [expiration] date but not past it. That can range anywhere from 2 weeks to 2 months to the sell-date…That’s an incentive to get people to throw away their food and buy new food. It’s one of the largest contributors to food waste in the country, misinformation about expiration dates. We recognize that this is an area where food is being wasted.
What impact does Daily Table hope to leave upon the Greater Boston community?
Grocery stores are a unique part of the community. They’re not only places of food, they are also hubs for people to get together. We’re excited to be opening a teaching kitchen. That kitchen is going to offer completely free, healthy and nutritious cooking classes. We’ll not only be able to offer our food but the education that goes around that. If you haven’t been given access to fresh produce and all of a sudden you have access and you don’t know what to do with it, then we haven’t really made a difference. So, we’re glad to able to offer both of those things.
What can BU volunteers expect to be doing while serving at Daily Table during GDS?
A lot of our volunteers will help us with chopping, dicing and prepping our produce getting it into perfect shape for our cooks to cook with. If people are really good with the knife, they might work in the kitchen alongside our chefs. Labeling, packaging and then some other grocery store tasks; that can be bagging, helping stock our shelves, greeting our customers and helping with signage if anyone has a really creative mind.
What groups of people have access to Daily Table?
We are a membership store. It’s completely free to be a member and anyone can be a member with us. Something we are really proud of is that we are not in competition with food banks and pantries, we work together actually quite a bit.
We are excited to have a store where we don’t ask any…personal information. That’s part of reducing the stigma and encouraging everyone to shop with us. We’re a store for everybody and part of that is not collecting personal information.
Any last thoughts about Daily Table?
We’re a great site for anyone who is interested in culinary arts or cooking, or anyone who is interested in food justice, food waste, the environmental impact. It’s really fun to be behind the scenes and to still be learning about those topics as you work in the kitchen.