Off the Road: with Greg Friedman

December 29, 2022 Updated: January 25, 2024

Get to know our Senior Grants Manager, Greg Friedman, in this Q&A.

How long have you been in your current role?

I’ve been in my current position, Senior Grants Manager, for five months. Prior to that, I was Spoonfuls’ Grants and Foundation Specialist for a year.

What do you do in your job? How does it help Spoonfuls?

I serve as Spoonfuls’ Senior Grants Manager. In this position, I am responsible for identifying grant opportunities and writing proposals seeking funding for Spoonfuls’ food rescue and hunger relief work in Massachusetts. I submit grant proposals to a range of funders, including private foundations established by philanthropists and corporations, and state and federal agencies that provide public funding. Grants may be unrestricted in support of general operations, restricted to our work in a specific city or region, or restricted to the purchase of a new refrigerated truck or other capital need. Grant funding is critical to Spoonfuls’ operation, accounting for about 50% of the organization’s revenue. In 2023, our goal is to raise a record $2,250,000 in grants!

 What’s the most gratifying part of your job?

The greatest part of my job is when the grants are awarded! Grant writing is not about instant gratification. After submitting a proposal, I typically wait two to four months to hear whether the proposal has been awarded or declined. When I finally receive notification about a grant award – whether it’s $5,000 or $50,000 – I am elated, because I know how the funding will directly support the diversion of good, nutritious food from the waste stream and its distribution to those who need it most.

Tell us about one partner you met this year – vendor or nonprofit – that inspired you. How come?

In the fall, I volunteered for an afternoon at Centre Street Food Pantry in Newton. The number of people they serve dramatically increased with the onset of the pandemic and, nearly three years later, has not declined. When their indoor space could no longer accommodate all who were coming to them for food, they moved their operation outdoors, creating a system that is impressively efficient. With a large team of volunteers, the pantry pre-bags groceries, produce, and household items, with the bags varying in their contents according to the number of people in the family, whether children live in the household, and whether they need toiletries. People wait in their vehicles until it’s their turn to pull up to one of three curbside “stations,” at which point a small team jumps into action and collects all the different bags of food and supplies the family will receive. Rather than limit the number of people who could access their service, Centre Street Food Pantry stepped up during a difficult time and engineered a solution that enabled them to serve many more people than their indoor space allowed. They are a vital presence in the community and I am deeply impressed by their dedication to their work.

If you weren’t Senior Grants Manager, what would you be doing instead?

I’m an amateur woodworker and have many pieces of inexpertly built furniture to prove it. I can see how, in a parallel universe, I might have attended an institution like the North Bennet Street School in Boston, which offers programs in vocations like furniture building and historical restoration. I enjoy working with my hands and can envision a satisfying career exploring my creative side in that line of work.

What’s your favorite way to minimize wasted food?

The freezer represents a terrific way to cut down on waste. When I buy a loaf of bread, for example, I put half in the freezer while I work my way through the other half. In the past, many a loaf would go moldy before I finished it. And leftovers, of course, keep for long periods in the freezer.
I also discovered that a great way to keep salad fresh is to store it in a salad spinner. After washing and spinning a spinach/green leaf lettuce combination, I put the entire spinner in the fridge and the salad stays in good shape for more than a week. It takes up valuable fridge real estate, but it’s worth making space for it.

Tell us one little-known fact about you.

I love to travel. Earlier in life, I took extended trips backpacking through Europe, Mexico, Africa, and around the U.S. While adulting prevents me from taking months-long trips these days, I still enjoy experiencing new places whenever I can.

Learn more about Greg and the other members of Team Spoonfuls on our staff page.

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