The Dudley T. Dougherty Foundation

Impacting Greater Boston's food system, alleviating hunger through food rescue

Grant Information
Categories Community , Environment
Location United States
Cycle Year 2022
Organization Information
Organization Name (provided by applicant) Food Link, Inc.
Organization Name (provided by automatic EIN validation)
Food link inc.
EIN 47-1840355
Contact Information
Contact Name Ms. Lisa Pedulla
Phone 781-819-4225
108 Summer Street
Additional Information
Used for Funding from the Dudley T. Dougherty Foundation will support Food Link's mission to create a more equitable food system throughout Greater Boston by rescuing and distributing high-quality, customized food to under-resourced communities and by advocating for systems change. Food Link will use these general operating funds to rescue high-quality food and distribute it to local community organizations to decrease food insecurity. Through our work, Food Link builds relationships and prioritizes the choice and autonomy of recipient agencies and their clients, thereby centering dignity for all.
Benefits Covid-19 and historically high inflation have exacerbated Massachusetts's already-steep cost of living, resulting in an estimated 30% of the population experiencing food insecurity (Greater Boston Food Bank, Opportunities to Improve Food Equity and Access in Massachusetts, June 2022). Food Link's model reduces barriers to access by delivering food directly to locations frequented by those in need: food pantries, community meal programs, after-school programs, senior centers, community colleges, and low-income and transitional housing facilities. In 2021, Food Link partnered with 80 community agencies serving families, children, at-risk youth, immigrants and refugees, older adults, veterans, and the homeless and housing insecure. Since 2020 Food Link has increased its emphasis on addressing the needs of Gateway Cities and underserved populations; in 2021, over 80% of our recipients were members from BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) communities; over 90% lived in very low- to low-moderate households.
Proposal Description

Food Link experienced a rapid expansion of its food rescue program from 2019 to 2021, from rescuing 611,000 to 1.4 million pounds of food, a 232% increase in just two years. In the early days of the pandemic, Food Link reacted by amplifying its food rescue operations to address the expanded level of need experienced throughout Massachusetts. Since then, the focus has shifted away from reacting to the crisis in food security caused by the pandemic to addressing the systemic causes of food insecurity and the inequitable access to healthy food.. Food Link's work breaks down barriers to accessing healthy fresh food and addresses the stigma sometimes associated with food assistance, by prioritizing distributions that take place where people already frequent, such as a child's afterschool program or the community room at a low-income housing facility. By focusing on the cultural and dietary preferences of the recipients, Food Link centers dignity and choice in the food rescue operations. Taking a customized approach allows Food Link to ensure that the recipients receive the type and amounts of food they need, prefer, and are familiar with. 

In this fiscal year, 2023 – July 1, 2022, through June 30, 2023 - Food Link will focus its food rescue program on addressing food equity and advocating for food justice to ensure that underserved populations have greater access to high-quality fresh food. This work will entail an enhanced level of customization with our recipient agencies to ensure the food they receive is of the type most valued by the food insecure people they serve. Food Link is seeking funding for general operating expenses in the amount of $10,000. This funding will support the additional staffing needed to build on the relationships with the recipient agencies to make these community efforts more inclusive and to ensure that the voices of those most disproportionately affected by food insecurity are empowered at every level of our food rescue program. 

Food Link takes pride in its robust measurement and evaluation function, managed by the Director of Operations and Community Partnerships. Currently, Food Link tracks metrics such as pounds of food received and distributed, the nutritional composition of that food (e.g., fresh produce vs. dairy vs. non-perishables), communities served, volunteer hours leveraged, and the monetary value of food rescued. This evaluation is of critical importance to the communities Food Link serves. Food Link's program success depends on its commitment to listening to the challenges faced by the social service organizations with whom it partners to measure their satisfaction. 

Funding from the Dudley T. Dougherty Foundation supports Food Link's ability to play a vital role in the food delivery system by ensuring that food insecure people receive equitable access to fresh, nutritious food. Food Link magnifies the positive impact upon the communities served as the food received has been diverted from the waste stream, providing a healthier environment while nourishing food recipients.

Food Link measures the effectiveness of all programs by tracking the volume of food donations received and delivered through its programs on a daily/weekly/monthly/yearly basis. Food Link surveys partner agencies to evaluate its programs and the quality of partnerships and obtain information on the number of individuals able to access the fresh food provided, to ensure they receive the appropriate amount of food and the number of deliveries to tailor deliveries to each community organization. In keeping with its commitment to advocating for food justice this year, Food Link will evaluate the success of this grant by measuring its ability to accomplish the following: 1) update internal and external communications to reflect Food Link's commitment to food justice, 2) engage people who have experienced food insecurity in our planning efforts, 3) get outside perspectives from experts in DEI, food justice, and engagement strategies for working with folks experiencing food insecurity, 4) train staff and volunteers to actively engage with recipients in a manner that incorporates their preferences into the food distributions they will receive.