Food Link began in March 2012 when Julie collected donated pastries from Panera Lexington for a fundraiser. She learned about the “Day-End Dough-Nation” program under which nonprofits can collect the extra food at the end of the night and that food was collected only one night a week from the store; on the other nights it was trashed. Julie and DeAnne decided to step in.
They began as the Food Recovery Project and delivered bread to Drake Village, Fidelity House, the Arlington Food Pantry, South Sudanese Education Fund and later Chestnut Manor, Cusack Terrace and Winslow Tower. In short time, three more Panera locations (Arlington, Burlington and Woburn) were also donating bread. By April the group provided bread to Bunker Hill Community College Single Stop program and in June, the Food Recovery Project started collecting food donations from Trader Joe’s 6 nights per week - which then became mornings - and included produce and meat. That month the group began delivering to the Medford Community Cupboard. Gail McCormick, JoAnn Sequiera, Jane Arsham, Betsy Riley, Charlotte Milan, Connie Maynard, Julie Sibert, and other terrific folks were the first volunteers. By July, the Food Recovery Project was serving 14 organizations in 9 towns.
In September of 2014, Food Recovery Project was renamed Food Link, Inc. and became a standalone 501c3 nonprofit. The organization now includes over 100 volunteers, 2 paid staff members and 9 board members. In the past five years, Food Link has collected and distributed over 1.4 million pounds of food and now serves 30 organizations in 13 towns.