Women on food and leadership

March 8, 2021 Updated: January 18, 2024

This Women’s History Month, we caught up with just a few of the women in our Lovin’ Spoonfuls community whose leadership on food waste and hunger motivates us. Here’s what they had to say.

Why do you care about neighbors facing hunger?

“Access to food is a basic necessity. For someone experiencing food insecurity, being hungry impacts everything in their life. People experiencing hunger are constantly facing tough choices. They have to choose between food and medical care, education, utilities, or transportation. Children experiencing food insecurity may have poor academic performance and behavioral problems. Ultimately, when people can’t cover this basic need, it’s harder for them to take advantage of economic opportunities and fully participate in their community.” – Catalina Lopez-Ospina, Director of the Office of Food Access, City of Boston

Why should others care about preventing wasted food?

“This pandemic has shone a light on many longstanding social problems, including hunger. We’re all looking for a way to help. Did you know that preventing wasted food is a great way to address hunger in our community? Tapping that resource feeds our neighbors and also helps soften food production’s impact on our environment.” – Patricia Duffy, State Representative, 5th Hampden District

What has time taught you as someone who works directly with people facing food insecurity?

“As a person who experienced hunger myself in my teenage years while living in one of the richest [countries] in the world (the U.S.), I know how terrible and painful it is to not have anything to eat. Food is one of the most basic and simple needs humans have, and when you don’t have such a simple and basic need, it makes you lose your dignity. While helping these individuals and families with such a basic need, we are all reminded that everyone is going through something and that appearances are just that: appearances. 

For us, to be able to help people not worry about where their next meal will come from, allows us to know that we aren’t just preaching: we’re taking action, and it allows them to be able to focus on other things, like finding employment and being able to better care for themselves and for their loved ones instead of constantly worrying about where their next meal will come from.” – Franciele Alves, Community Worship & Praise

What women have inspired you and why?

“There are many women who have inspired me in my life and my career. Here are a few:

My mom: She left a 20+ year career in insurance after falling in the love with the kitchen remodeling process. She took classes to learn how to be a designer and then took the leap to open her own small business, which she’s still running 30 years later. She taught me to work hard, follow your dreams, and do something that you are passionate about. Thankfully, I’ve been able to find that here at ‘Spoonfuls.

Lori van Dam: I was fortunate to work with Lori in my late 20s at MassInsight. She was a supportive, empathetic leader who was genuinely invested in my success and gave me the space to grow. She was my first manager that I truly connected with and felt supported by and has been a cheerleader and friend ever since.

Ashley Stanley: Don’t tell her this, but I’m grateful on the daily that she had the motivation and gumption to start a small nonprofit during a recession focused on a problem no one was really talking about yet. She created the space for this organization to grow and become what it is now, with an incredible team of women leaders (and a few good men, too) and all the while she’s taught me more than any prior manager about finding balance and making space in my life for the things that matter.” – Lauren Palumbo, Chief Operating Officer, Lovin’ Spoonfuls

Thank you to all the women in this article and beyond who contribute to our work. It wouldn’t be possible without you.

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