Simply put: Use one challenge to help tackle another challenge. Use the excess, available food from growers, manufacturers and supermarkets to provide affordable, healthy food for the food insecure. Daily Table is a new kind of retail grocery store that offers fresh produce and grocery items as well as ready-to-cook and grab-n-go prepared meals at truly affordable prices. Our healthy meal options are priced to compete with the fast-food alternatives in the neighborhood. We do all of this by recovering food from supermarkets, growers and food distributors that would otherwise have been wasted. Hunger and wasted food are two problems that can have one solution.
This country wastes a lot of food, in fact, we waste up to 40 percent of the food we produce, enough to fill the Rose Bowl every day. But, at the same time, we also have a lot of people who struggle to put healthy meals on the table, leading to a food paradox. For the first time, many who are food insecure, or “hungry” are overweight or obese because they can’t afford the foods they should be eating: more fruits and vegetables, dairy and protein. By providing residents with tasty, convenient, healthy, affordable food, we think Daily Table can help address the challenges of hunger and obesity. And, as a community, we need to find a way to tackle the issue of food insecurity in a manner that engenders dignity and self-respect while being economically sustainable.
Our first store at 450 Washington Street in the Codman Square and Four Corners neighborhood of Dorchester, Massachusetts opened June 4, 2015. It is open seven days a week; from 9:00AM until 8:00PM, Monday through Saturday, and from 11:00AM until 6:00PM on Sundays.
We believe that food is a precious resource that should never be wasted. We secure wholesome, nutritious food that is excess or overstocked from grocery stores, food suppliers, manufacturers, restaurants and growers. We blend that with food that we also purchase from manufacturers, growers and distributors.
We have an ever growing number of supply partners that can vary day to day. Some are local retailers whose names are nationally famous. Others are local growers. Each day, inside our store, we list our current suppliers on a large chalkboard. We are also purchasing food at deeply discounted, non-profit rates from a number of producers and distributors.
Many in the food supply chain are concerned about the volume of food that goes unused, especially while so many in our communities are hungry and unhealthy. Many are also eager to find a solution that reaches the majority of “working poor” (most of the food insecure), and does so in a manner that helps build dignity and self-respect. Many of these suppliers will also benefit from federal tax credits for food donation to a nonprofit.
Yes. Given the variability in our product source, we supplement our donated food with some purchased items to create balanced meals. Our goal is to buy as little as possible so that we can keep the price for our customers as low as we can.
If by “expired food” you mean food past its healthy safety limits, absolutely NOT! We will only sell quality, nutritious and safe groceries that still have a reasonable window of use past their “display code.” Our prepared meals will still be made fresh on site, and will be good for several days after they’re sold. Display codes like “sell by”, “use by” and “best by” dates are not food safety dates.
The “best by”, “enjoy by” and “sell by” dates you see on food packages do not address food safety. They are not regulated by the federal government and are not “must eat by” dates. Although a point of confusion to most consumers, it is safe to consume food well past these “display code” dates.
“The Dating Game”, a 2014 report from the National Resources Defense Council and Harvard Food Law and Policy Clinic points out that these dates are poorly understood and surprisingly under-regulated. For example, “sell by” dates were created to help retailers rotate items for freshness and, according to the report, should be invisible to consumers. The report states emphatically “almost none of those dates indicate the safety of food…”
Although we are not currently handling any product past its “display code,” we remain open to the possibility. Since “sell by” dates are not an indicator of food safety this would allow Daily Table to sell perfectly good, nutritious food at very reduced prices.
Not at all as long as the product is still safe, wholesome food. The only federally regulated product with required sell-by dates is infant formula and some baby foods.
Certainly it needs clarification and education at the very least! The Dating Game calls for a system of date labeling that is standardized and easily understood by consumers. One way would be federal legislation. But short of Congressional action, existing federal guidelines should be strengthened and clarified. In the meantime, consumer education is critical so that proper food safety, handling and storage is better understood. It’s estimated that American households are unnecessarily discarding several thousand dollars’ worth of food each year. In fact, most of our nation’s food waste occurs at the household level.
Just as you would imagine, with our senses. Milk starts to smell bad, bread gets moldy. The food-borne illnesses that we often hear about in the news are usually not related to code dates but food handling, such as lack of attention to time and temperature control. As with all perishable food items, you need to make sure that you’ve stored them properly at the right temperature. For more information on this issue you could also check out these two websites: Still Tasty and The Thrillist
We have expert-led quality control processes in place that use sampling and other quality assurance methods. We monitor the time and temperature of our food in transit, as well as in the store.
Think of us like a T.J.Maxx or Marshalls for food. We sell overstocked quality items in a first-rate retail setting at truly affordable prices. Our stores will be upbeat, inviting, and provide a dignified shopping experience. We will have to win our customers’ patronage everyday by providing an excellent product at the right price, just like any retailer. We believe that everyone deserves a dignified way to provide nutritious food for their family.
This will change daily since the food we glean and recover will be different every day. But we make sure that everything we serve has our customers’ health in mind, making it easy for them to make smart choices.
Customers are always able to purchase healthy prepared meals, cooked on-site by our kitchen staff with fresh ingredients that are delivered each day. You can count on finding entrees, soups, stews and sandwiches. You can also purchase staples like milk and bread each day. We offer a variety of vegetables like tomatoes, onions, potatoes, and salad greens, along with fruits like bananas and apples.
We try to sell what our customers want. Based on focus groups and extensive conversations in the community, we’ve heard that people are busy with little free time and would prefer to grab an already prepared meal. Our freshly prepared meals are in fact a large volume of our sales. But we also want to encourage people to eat more fresh fruit and vegetables and to cook healthy meals at home, so we sell grocery items too.
Yes, we make sure that our prepared meals and groceries are healthy. We have a Daily Table Nutrition Task Force that helped us set guidelines for salt, sugar, fat, fiber and other factors. Our task force members come from the Harvard School of Public Health, Boston Public Health Commission, the Boston Medical Center’s Children’s Healthwatch, Children’s Hospital Boston’s Childhood Obesity Prevention Center, Codman Square Health Center, and the Boston Organization of Nutritionists and Dietitians of Color. We are, in our humble opinion, the healthiest food store in America!
Yes. But Daily Table is required by law to enforce certain program restrictions dictated by the state of Massachusetts and the US Department of Agriculture. SNAP can be used to purchase any grocery items or refrigerated prepared food items that will be eaten at home.
We want to be available to our customers when it is convenient for them. The store is currently open from 9:00AM to 8:00PM, Monday through Saturday, and from 11:00AM to 6:00PM on Sundays. We expect a lot of customers to stop in after work on their way home. If we find that we need to change our hours to better serve the community, we will.
We are committed to opening a teaching kitchen on our premises that will offer free nutrition and culinary education. We will be partnering with the Codman Square Health Center and Healthworks Community Fitness, and also draw on the expertise of Share our Strength’s Cooking Matters, Children’s Hospital Optimal for Life Program, Chop Chop and Future Chefs.
Yes. For instance, we’re confident that ultimately every mother wants her kids to grow up healthy with the brightest future possible. Research shows that small nudges toward healthier eating can get people to change their behaviors. By providing an appealing, affordable alternative in a convenient location we are well-positioned to ease people into new food preferences.
The pilot store in Codman Square/Four Corners has created approximately 28 new full and part-time jobs. We have hired cooks, drivers, dishwashers, and general retail clerks who do everything from stocking shelves to running a register.
Yes. We have hired, and will continue to hire, predominantly from the Codman Square/Four Corners, Dorchester neighborhoods. In fact, almost 80% of our new hires live within a two-mile radius of the store. Of course, we may also need to hire specific skills or talent from the Greater Boston area.
Yes. Our compensation and benefits are competitive with the market. We also provide our employees with job training and life skills training. Together with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Massachusetts we developed four modules of a life skills curriculum that we offer to our employees. Classes focus on finance 101, communication skills, how to deal with conflict, resume writing and personal goal setting. Our goal is to have our employees feel confident and capable of succeeding in a retail position elsewhere in the marketplace.
Several reasons: There are many fast food options but few healthy affordable food alternatives in the area. Second, we welcomed the opportunity to partner with a forward thinking health center already committed to addressing hunger and obesity. And third, many residents in the community are low income and would benefit greatly from a retail grocer that sells affordable nutritious food.
Codman Square Health Center is a primary partner and we are leasing our space from them. We are also pleased to partner with Healthworks Community Fitness, who is also a tenant at 450 Washington Street. Additional partners include the Greater Boston Food Bank, Future Chefs, Share our Strength Cooking Matters, Community Servings, the New England Center for Arts & Technology, Boys and Girls Club, Kit Clark Senior Center, the Dorchester YMCA, and other local community agencies.
Yes. We have created a Community Advisory Council made up primarily of Codman Square and Four Corners business, civic, health, education, faith and community leaders who support our success by serving as ambassadors and advisors. Our first meeting was in July, 2014.
Yes! Once our first store is up and running, and we are confident that the model works, we will move quickly to open other locations. We want to expand soon because we know the supply of food is abundant and the need for affordable nutrition is pressing. With our Board’s oversight and approval, we will develop an expansion strategy that will likely include one or two more stores in Boston and then, based on demographic and market factors as well as funder interest, other US cities like Los Angeles, New York, Detroit, San Francisco and Baton Rouge.
We are a not-for-profit with 501c3 status from the IRS.
Daily Table is honored to have the support of a number of foundations and individuals like the PepsiCo Foundation, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Kendall Foundation and others. Please visit our Partners page for a complete listing. The PepsiCo Foundation, a founding funder, has been our largest contributor to date. In addition to financial support they have also collaborated with Daily Table on numerous aspects of the business to assist us in delivering the best possible outcomes to the community.
To assure the IRS that we are fulfilling our not-for-profit mission, we collect basic customer information through a free membership program. This allows us to validate that a predominant number of our customers live or work in ZIP codes that are more economically challenged.
We collect ZIP codes as part of our membership program (see above). To keep it simple, similar to other stores that require membership (for example, Costco and BJs), membership is linked to your phone number which is accessed during checkout—alleviating the need to carry a membership card.
Our goal is to have a self-sustaining business model that allows for the revenue from the sale of our food to cover the cost of operating the store. While we need philanthropic funds to pay for the initial start-up costs (to build out the grocery store space) once we are up and running we hope to be self-sufficient. This is very different from other not-for-profits in the food service space. Our goal is to effectively raise “funds” BY the delivery of our mission (via sales) instead of the traditional model of raising funds FOR the delivery of mission.
We measure our success by the number of customers we have, the frequency of their shopping experience, and the amount of food they purchase. In short, by our “outputs.” We also carefully track the quantity of food that we recover (that would have otherwise been wasted or end up in a landfill). If we can get healthy food into the community’s diet we know our model is a success. We also made a commitment to the community and our future customers that Daily Table will be a dignified shopping experience. They asked that Daily Table not be a “program store” where they felt part of an experiment. To respect that promise, and the expectation of privacy, we have ruled out the use of in-store health surveys and questionnaires for our customers.
The current Board is intentionally small with an opportunity for expansion to coincide with our growth. Right now, there are six members. Doug Rauch, Founder and President of Daily Table, was formerly the President of Trader Joe’s. Jose Alvarez is currently a Senior Lecturer at Harvard Business School and is past President and CEO of Stop and Shop/Giant-Landover. Scott Finlow is Vice President, Shopper Insights for PepsiCo. Jay Martin is in-house counsel with Medical Liability Mutual Insurance Company. Bill Walczak was Founder and leader of the Codman Square Health Center for over 30 years, and is currently the CEO of the South End Community Health Center. Shawna Wilson is the Frito-Lay Northeast Region Sales Vice President. David Mersky is the Founder and Managing Director of Mersky, Jaffe & Associates.