Interview with Jennifer England

Saving Food, so others can eat.

“We believe good food belongs to people not landfills…”

Jennifer England, Senior Programs Director, 412 Food Rescue

I had the privilege of speaking with Jennifer England on August 26th, 2019 to discuss the hobby and about 412 Food Rescue, a program that started in the Pittsburgh area.

TheCharityBoardGamer: Jennifer, thank you so much for meeting with me today. Tell us about yourself and what brought you into the board game hobby.

Jennifer: Well, I came to board gaming late. When I started dating my husband 6 years ago, he told me he loved board games. I was EXACTLY the person that I saw mentioned on a board game thread a few days ago. I said, “Oh I love board games. I like Clue, Life and Scrabble.”

My cousins played D&D and would never let me play with them. They would let me play Risk but I HATED that game and Monopoly. I think had they let me play D&D I’d be larping by now. I would have been heavy into games early on.

Rocking around the Christmas, playing a board game.

Jennifer: As it was, it was my husband who eventually introduced meI played Ticket to Ride and a few others, and my reaction was, “These are fine,” but nothing great. Then we played Agricola and I was hooked. I was addicted immediately, and since then I’ve gotten deeper and deeper into the hobby. I tend to deep dive into hobbies to begin with, and now that my kids are grown and I’m married to my best friend, we play A LOT of games. I think we are over 800 plays for the year. My preference is a chunky Euro game, not light games, but I’ll play those too. I had no idea that board games could be what they are. It’s such a joy to discover. I love the challenge and the thinkyness (Is that a word???) of games. I really get bored with tv, and books are so solitary. 

Jennifer and her husband at Origins 2019.

TheCharityBoardGamer: I think thinkyness is a word… and you can’t knock Clue. What is your favorite game currently?

Jennifer: My favorite game of all time is Gloomhaven, but we haven’t played for a while. 

Currently my list of favorites are probably:

  • Everdell
  • Puerto Rico
  • The Gallerist
  • Museum
  • Agricola (Always!)
Looks like a great game is going down!

TheCharityBoardGamer: What has been on the table recently?

Jennifer: We just played Gugong and LOVED it. and have played I think five games of Burgle Brothers in a row trying to beat that game.

TheCharityBoardGamer: Any designer or publisher that you enjoy the most?

Jennifer: Uwe. He gets me. He really gets me, but we also just played our first Lacerda (the Gallerist) and it was our jam. We bought Lisboa at Origins. Oh, I forgot to mention Bunny Kingdom. That’s like crack to me. 

TheCharityBoardGamer: So tell me about 412 Food Rescue. How did it start?

Jennifer: 412 Food Rescue was the brain child of our Co-founders Leah Lizarando and Gisele Fetterman. It was designed to bridge the gap between the fact that 40% of the food we produce is thrown away while 1 in 7 are hungry. I knew Leah and when I expressed excitement for this idea she asked me to help her operationalize it.

We believe good food belongs to people not landfills, and to be honest, it was like a logic puzzle or a game to create. How do you rescue a million pounds of food 100 lbs at a time? How do you distribute 10,000 pounds of produce that has to be eaten IMMEDIATELY? How do you do all of that economically?

We created an app that mobilizes our volunteers so we don’t have to rely on economies of scale. We can, with the touch of a button, reach thousands of volunteers to ask them to pick up a box of food and take it to a nonprofit where it can be used. We partnered with nontraditional distribution partners, organizations whose main mission was not food distribution, but whose constituents are food insecure. They know that to accomplish their mission they need to make sure the basic need of food is met.

Loaded up with food.

Jennifer: We work with housing authorities, subsidized day cares, veterans programs, job training programs, really any organization where there are people who are food insecure. Though we didn’t anticipate it, it turns out that this helps remove barriers to food access another way as well. Imagine the mother who is working two jobs and taking her kids to daycare on the bus. She doesn’t have time to take another bus to a grocery store or a pantry, but if she can pick up a bag of healthy groceries when she picks up her child it helps on both fronts.

We started in 2015 and in 4 years we’ve distributed nearly 7 million pounds of food to over 600 non-profit partners. Now we are supporting organizations in other cities who want to use our technology and our model to do the same thing in their area.

Continuing the efforts to help those in need.

TheCharityBoardGamer: For those who may ask, what is food insecure?

Jennifer: Food insecurity means that during a given month there will be days where you can’t feed yourself or your family. You don’t know where your next meal is coming from. It can also mean that you have no access to healthy food. People who live in food swamps for example face all sorts of added health issues.

TheCharityBoardGamer: Where can one go to learn more and support 412 Food Rescue?

Jennifer: www.412FoodRescue.org . We have sister organizations in Cleveland, Philadelphia and Prince William County in Virginia.

TheCharityBoardGamer: Jennifer, thank you for sharing this with us today. I wish you continued success!

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