Get to know one of our Hampden County Food Rescue Coordinators, Jon Burdick, in this Q&A.
The most gratifying part for me is being able to save food from stores for individuals and families so they are then able to eat for that day, week, or maybe even the month. It’s sad to see the amount of people struggling to eat, but being a part of a team that helps to counteract [food insecurity] really hits home for me.
One myth that I’d like to bust is about the job itself: that it’s easy and always straightforward. By no means are we just going to stores and picking up what they don’t want or can’t sell. It really starts from building partnerships with vendors, nonprofit beneficiaries, and other community organizations and planning out efficient daily routes and schedules.
My day consists of lifting heavy boxes and driving [safely] through traffic to get to each stop on time because we pick up and deliver within the same day. Most of the vendors and beneficiaries I work with only see me on the road day-to-day. Some don’t realize there’s a whole team of people who support me at the office, from operations to marketing u0026 communications and development to leadership, etc., making this whole organization work. Bridging the gap between abundance and need is a hard job and no small feat, but it’s every bit satisfying when you see the impact of what we do firsthand.
My best strategy is to be quick and efficient but don’t rush. I take my time and ease into stops and turns when driving, otherwise I may end up with a truck full of toppled boxes, and that can really ruin a day. I also like to keep myself motivated with directives and timelines and remind myself throughout the day to keep moving.
Pretty much all of the folks who work in the “trenches” of the nonprofits truly inspire me on a daily basis. But most recently, I’d have to say Deacon Bill at House of Refuge International in Chicopee has been inspirational and admirable to me. He’s pleasant and cordial in our conversations and is always accommodating. He’s a very hard worker who’s known to work “8 days a week” to keep his program in tip-top shape. He is helpful when off-schedule deliveries are needed and also to offload any produce not fit for consumption to be composted at his friend’s garden farm.
Some of the wildest things I have seen for donations are chicken paws (chicken feet), beef hearts, and various types of pumpkins and gourds this time of year.
If I wasn’t a Food Rescue Coordinator, I’d probably be working in a kitchen somewhere, still feeding hungry people, but by cooking. That’s what I did for years before I transitioned to this line of work. I find this job really gratifying, and I am pretty content with putting the work in and just keep moving forward.
When I’m not rescuing food, I’m running my website and store where I sell vintage t-shirts and vinyl records.
Learn more about John Burdick and the other members of Team Lovin’ on our staff page.