In possibly the greatest marketing failure since New Coke, resident graphic artist Pattie Thompson (at right) created "Rooty the Rutabaga" to put a friendly face on the much-mocked tuber. Nice try Pattie.
Where Is This Stuff Even Coming From?
Understanding why we can't always get exactly the food we want, starts with knowing where our food comes from. A glance at the chart below shows how reliant we are on food sourced from our Food Bank partner, Connecticut Foodshare.
We distribute between nine and ten tons of food per week
Although the proportions shift somewhat over time, we typically get nearly three-quarters of our food from the Food Bank. They are our conduit to federally and state-funded food, and more generally the way we tap into the nationwide charitable food support system. At the moment, all the food from Connecticut Foodshare is free (before the pandemic, we paid a nominal amount). This is a fantastic deal, and it is what allows us to serve so many people with so much high-quality food.
Recently, however, Connecticut Foodshare has been experiencing supply chain challenges of their own, which inevitably impact us. They are working to expand what is available to order, and the summer months typically have a greater range of produce. So hopefully rutabaga and planet-sized cabbages will be less of a feature in the future. In the meantime, we are trying hard to offer the best range of nutritious food we possibly can.
In the last few months, we have significantly increased our store "rescues" - the food that is donated from local stores such as Stop & Shop, Whole Foods, and Shop Rite. But the reality is we have very little control of what is donated from these sources - either in terms of quantity or type. We can influence in-kind donations a little more by listing what we are in need of most, and by helping plan food drives - but as you can see, in-kind donations are only a small part of what we distribute.
The only source of food we do have more or less complete control of is what we buy ourselves. Partly for that reason, we have massively stepped up our purchases since the pandemic began. In 2019, we spent less than $10,000 buying food. This year we have budgeted around $150,000 - fifteen times more! But there are limits on our ability to purchase food. Not only do we have to raise the cash, but buying our own food is logistically more challenging. Connecticut Foodshare delivers all the food we order twice per week - without delivery charges. Food we purchase almost always has to be picked up by volunteers (special shout-out to Mark Silverman here!).
Speaking of whom, and as a final, last-ditch attempt to defend the maligned R-vegetable, feast your eyes on these rutabaga fries cooked up by Mark between runs to Ace Endico, Dandy Foods, and C-Town. Absolutely delish!