Daily Table – Intern Feature
In Summer 2021, the Henry P. Kendall Foundation funded internships at two partner organizations in Boston, the Urban Farming Institute and Daily Table. Maria Semmelroth, a former architect from Brazil, worked closely with the Daily Table team while completing her Bachelor's degree in Organizational and Corporate Communications at from Framingham State University.
In 2017, I had the good fortune to have an opportunity to come to the United States from Brazil to work and study abroad. Currently, I am an international student living with a loving family in Wayland, Massachusetts. And since spring 2020, I have been pursuing a degree in Organizational and Corporate Communications at Framingham State University.
Growing up in Brazil, I did not personally experience food-related issues such as hunger or food insecurity. However, I knew hunger was a serious problem in my country and all over the world. But not until I moved to the U.S. did I realize the extent of the problems that so many people face. During the past four years, I have learned that there is a significant amount of perfectly good food that is thrown away without a thought. It dismays me to think about this wasteful behavior when so many people do not have access to food. It also concerns me that so many people do not have access to the healthy options that many of us take for granted.
During the spring of 2021, I was surprised and delighted to learn about the Daily Table, an organization dedicated to addressing the food need and waste challenges. Daily Table secures perfectly good, nutritious food and offers it to communities most in need at lower prices. Doug Rauch, former president of Trader Joe’s and founder of Daily Table, found a solution to this significant dilemma, solving one problem with another, meaning working against food insecurity while saving good food from going to waste. Daily Table offers a concrete solution to the food need-waste problem, one that assists people living in lower-income communities gain access to affordable, wholesome foods. Rauch’s brilliant idea is a truly compassionate action as it helps communities in need acquire healthy food while simultaneously protecting our planet through sustainable food distribution and consumption. Daily Table stores are located in Dorchester, Roxbury, and Cambridge (soon in Mattapan as well), and provide delicious and nutritious food at prices much lower than other food chains. Moreover, most customers live in the neighborhoods where stores are located, making access to food a reality where there were previously good food deserts. However, everyone is welcome to shop at Daily Table!
I joined the Daily Table team as an intern in June 2021. In the past few months, I’ve had the opportunity to learn more about the magnitude of the food access and waste problem. Even though the U.S. is the richest nation in the world, one out of six Americans faces food insecurity. The U.S. ranks as one of the largest food-wasting nations in the world. The waste that occurs in individual households is substantial, however, the larger problem is the food industry itself. Perfectly good food doesn’t even get to the shelves of leading groceries stores. It may be because the food is getting close to the expiration date (although it is still good), or just because it does not look pretty enough (again, still good food). Even good produce left unharvested in fields winds up in landfills.
At Daily Table, I work closely with Laura Cannata, the Director of Corporate & Foundation Giving, who has been my mentor since day one of this journey. Our work has focused on prospect research, developing our partnership programs, identifying potential grant programs, and updating our GuideStar profile, which is the world’s largest source of information on nonprofit organizations.
During the Fall-Winter of 2021, with generous support from the Henry P. Kendall Foundation, I have taken on additional responsibilities. I am working with Michael Malmberg, Chief Operating Officer, and Georgia Ferguson, Director of Buying and Product Sourcing, on researching and evaluating the cost benefits for customers who use their Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits at Daily Table. We designed a weekly meal plan to evaluate if a person can maximize their monthly SNAP allotment that achieves nutritional requirements and budget constraints by purchasing groceries at Daily Table.
My experiences with working with Daily Table have raised my awareness about critical, food-related issues facing our society. It also taught me about the valuable ‘behind the scenes’ work of nonprofits, and the complexities and resource constraints they face, which make achieving their missions’ goals even more difficult. I have learned that these challenges require the teamwork and collaboration of organization members and communities, all united with the goal of working together to address and improve people’s lives and make communities stronger, healthier, and more sustainable.
I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to be part of such an essential organization with such a meaningful and compassionate mission. And, especially as an immigrant, I am proud and honored to be a part of an organization that promotes access, equity, and inclusion.