Off the Road: with Joni Kusminsky

February 16, 2022 Updated: January 23, 2024

Get to know our Marketing & Communications Director, Joni Kusminsky, in this Q&A.

How long have you been in your current role?

It will be two years in May, which feels like both the longest and the shortest time (global pandemic and all)! Which one it is – long or short – depends on the day/week/month, but, regardless, I find so much fulfillment in being here.

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

As Marketing u0026 Communications Director, I’m a member of Spoonfuls’ Leadership Team. My job is to inform our overarching communications strategy. I tell, and help others tell, the story of this organization: from how we do what we do, to who enables us to do it, to why it matters. The big idea is that our stories engage people in our work: whether as staff and board members, donors, vendor and nonprofit partners, advocates for food justice and the environment, people taking steps to reduce their environmental footprint, whatever. We’re ultimately going to be so much more successful in delivering on our mission the more people we have committed to it. Storytelling helps drive that commitment.

What’s the most gratifying part of your job?

I work alongside such supremely bright, creative, talented people who each bring a little something different to the table but who are all – to one degree or another – driven by our mission. That’s got to be number one for me. 

In terms of the job itself, though, I love developing and shepherding along communications that serve to educate people around important issues (like food insecurity and the climate emergency) or that challenge our notions around those issues (like “you get what you get and you don’t get upset,” because sometimes you dang well do get upset). Healthy food shouldn’t be a luxury. I’m a bit of an activist at heart; bringing people along in their understanding of the issues that our work addresses is important to me.

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

The year is young, so reflecting back on last year: Everett’s Grace Food Pantry comes to mind. We rescued our 20 millionth pound of food in early 2021 and distributed it at that pantry (picture from that day above).

There was a lot of press attention for the distro, too, and rightly so. Massachusetts experienced the single greatest increase in food insecurity anywhere in the nation at the outset of the pandemic, and here was an example of how we work together to get good food to people who need it. 

Anyway, I showed up early to literally meet the press and, before they even got there, I realized I was witnessing the real story. I watched as the volunteers assisted a family that had recently lost their home to a fire. They were in crisis, and the volunteers brought them in, turned to the parents and said, ‘Today, it’s going to be ok. We’ve got this.’ And the parents repeated back to them: ‘Today, it’s going to be ok. We’ve got this.’ The kids nodded. As a mom myself, that struck me. 

When we – the collective ‘we’ – talk about food insecurity, we tend to focus on the broad strokes: how many people are impacted by food insecurity, how many people use SNAP benefits, how many people turn to food programs. We rarely stop to think about the numbers as individual people, as families. Yet, every day, our nonprofit partners, like Grace Food Pantry, are a resource for real people, and the resource they provide with donated food from Spoonfuls is sometimes so much bigger than a meal. In that minute, I saw it: Those pantry volunteers were reassuring this family. We don’t know, any of us, what tomorrow will bring, but – today – you’re not alone with this burden. We’re your community. Together, we’ve got this. 

If you weren’t Marketing u0026 Communications Director at Spoonfuls, what would you be doing instead?

There are no fewer than five books I haven’t written, so probably I’d spend more time writing one of them.

What’s your favorite way to minimize wasted food?

With a family of three and most of my favorite recipes serving 4-6, one thing we do in our house is inventory the little bit that’s left over from each meal to decide whether there’s a way we can put it all together and make something new at the end of the week. For example, no matter how many times we make mashed potatoes, we always make too many. So when (not if, when) we have leftover mashed potatoes, we fry them up with veggies or ground turkey from taco night. ‘Leftover latkes.’

Tell us one little-known fact about you.

If you’ve Zoomed with me on a day I’m working from my home office, you might already have a sense (my library right behind me and all!), that I’m a voracious reader. That sounds better than “book nerd,” but I’m that, too! Some of my favorite places on this planet are rare and independent book stores, and I have a little collection of antiquarian books I’ve been working on for a number of years.

Learn more about Joni Kusminsky and the other members of Team Lovin’ on our staff page.

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