By Ellen Rothman, Volunteer Gleaner
A few weeks ago, I joined a group from BAG at Daily Table the country’s first—and so far only—non-profit supermarket. I came away from the visit with Doug Rauch, the market’s visionary founder and president, so inspired that my friends and family suspected I might move to Codman Square.
It was thrilling—a word I rarely use but I was thrilled—to see kale and sweet potatoes gleaned that very week piled high in bins—but not at prices—reminiscent of Trader Joe’s (where Rauch worked for 31 years). In December alone, Daily Table received almost 14,000 pounds of fresh food from BAG.
Membership in Daily Table is free, and anyone can join. Since it opened in Dorchester last June, 5,000 people have done so, 82% of them from low-income neighborhoods.
Looking around at the Stonyfield yogurt, Perdue chicken, hummus from the Sabra Dipping Company, Fresh Express greens—all priced to be within reach of a household relying on SNAP (AKA food stamps)—it was easy to believe that sales have increased 65% since the launch. And that was before we went into the state-of-the-art kitchen, where some of Daily Table’s 32 employees prepare the soups, casseroles, salads, and other healthy, affordable, ready-to-eat meals (and delicious yogurt smoothies) that the Codman Square community told Rauch’s team it needed.
As Daily Table strives to become a model for similar ventures elsewhere in Boston and around the country, it relies on foundations, suppliers and donors of food, and volunteers (357 in number) to operate. If you miss gleaning this winter, Daily Table can use you. There is a volunteer form on the website. Just be sure you come back in the spring so BAG can continue to be a vital part of this innovative venture.