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2021 = Resilience

Noam Ascher Bertuzzi, our youngest volunteer yet, gleaning an eggplant for donation

Dear friends and colleagues in the fight against hunger,

First, Happy Holidays and may this new year bring more food, joy and resilience to all!

As many have said, we are in a marathon, not a sprint. Living in our new normal during this time requires us to reach inside and see from different eyes, ones that are founded in the ever-hopeful quality of resilience. Rachel’s Table has had its share of sprinting, panting, and getting back in the race again. During this time our volunteers have encouraged resilience in each other. The year 2021 saw an incredible increase in poundage of food we delivered per month, such as 144,000 pounds in the month of March. In September, we delivered over 40 tons of lasagna with partners like Timberland Trucking, the Antonacci Foundation (USA Waste and Recycle) and Climate Engineering as well as our own hearty volunteers driving several thousand pounds to all 3 counties that the Jewish Federation serves. To add to that, we found that companies can team together to create a donation day, and Gagne Wealth Management in Greenfield did just that – their team helped RT by picking up over 3,000 pounds of lasagna from our volunteers and delivered the “last mile” distribution to our Upper Valley agencies!

Two stories illustrate our volunteers’ capacity to bounce back for a good cause come to mind. One is our “guerilla” gleaning of beautiful eggplant. In the waning days of the fall, when most of us slow down and our gardens go to seed, one of our Board members kept noticing unpicked shiny eggplant in a large field and tracked down the farmer owner. His response? Go at it – and we did! Several weeks of spontaneous eggplant gleaning ensued, gathering gleaners of all ages (as per photo)! Apple gleaning was another late fall event – with one of our volunteers, Alyce Stiles, gleaning after work and delivering over 3,000 pounds of apples to several agencies all over the Valley. Another story was in service of supporting our neighbor, Armata’s, after their unfortunate loss of their store to fire. Their own story represents the best of resilience, bringing food to all their customers from their parking lot on Thanksgiving Day! One of our volunteers heard that several turkeys were needing donation, and although the day was not a day RT was open, and no one was “on call,” a few phone calls and two volunteers with much persistence proved the ticket to get 12 20lb turkeys and fixings to our agencies. Whether large quantities such as 40 tons or 144,000 pounds, or 12 20lb turkeys, our volunteers continue to see with resilient eyes and seize the moment to make a difference in the lives of others.

Lastly, this year we chose to focus on serving the need rather than creating large fundraising events, and this choice, born out of necessity, gave us all the opportunity to stay close to our mission. Our Bountiful Bowls event, done virtually, was the catalyst for a year-long giving launch that allowed us to exceed our goal and raise 50% more funds than the event had raised before. This has allowed us to support our expansion and sustain our efforts. As hunger unfortunately will not be over even after this pandemic someday wanes, feel free to join us in this sustenance. Sustain us so we may sustain others – and let’s all sustain ourselves by learning a bit from the amazing resiliency and resourcefulness of RT volunteers!

To a day when we all can come to the table together,

Jodi Falk


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