Meet the Local Food Heroes Behind Daniel’s Table

During these challenging and unprecedented times, it’s important for us to be reminded of the good that exists in the world. Every day, people are stepping up to support each other in extraordinary ways, like Daniel’s Table in Framingham, Massachusetts.

Daniel’s Table is a nonprofit committed to distributing nutritional food to those in need. Co-founded by David and Alicia Blais 8 years ago, the charity is dedicated to their son Daniel, who passed away at birth 25 years ago. It has served as a beacon of light in their lives and a way for them to give back in his honor.

Anova got to speak with David to learn more about how Daniel’s table has rallied together to help provide meals to those struggling during COVID-19. “One of the things that makes us unique is that we are adaptable. We can look at a situation and ask what’s the best thing needed and activate quickly around a solution.”

And that’s exactly what they have done. The organization is teaming up with local businesses to address the sudden surge in unemployment and food insecurity amid the global health crisis, which has quadrupled the demand for food in the area.

Join us as we learn more about the incredible work Daniel’s Table is doing to help those in need.

Q&A with David Blais, Founder of Daniel’s Table

Q: David, it’s lovely to meet you! Could you give us a little bit of background about yourself and Daniel’s Table?

A: It’s great to speak with the Anova team about the important work we are doing! One of my strengths has always been putting together different concepts in ways that may seem unorthodox. When I became aware of the issues around food insecurity in my community, I knew I had to act boldly. And that’s how Daniel’s Table was born.

Over the years, we have reinvented ourselves many times and continue to test different approaches. Our goal is to disrupt the food system and provide as many meals as we possibly can. As a result of our hard work, we have developed a three step process that has become a crucial resource for our community – discover, inform, provide.

I’ll try to provide a quick overview! First, as an organization we do our best to discover who is in need – so we spend time in local neighborhoods building trust and doing assessments at a one-on-one level. Door by door, neighbor by neighbor.

Second inform the community about the services we provide – once a month we have an open market where our neighbors can receive fresh produce, attend a cooking class and learn more about our program.

Finally and most importantly – we provide. We have installed 27 freezers into locations throughout Framingham. Inside these freezers we provide restaurant quality meals that are distributed through an app system we have developed. Because so many of these freezers are in schools, community health centers, colleges and other accessible areas we are able to give our neighbors instant access to a healthy meal for themselves and their families.

If you want, you can learn more about our 3 step solution here.

Q: The work you do to support your community sounds truly incredible! Could you tell us a bit more about how COVID-19 has affected Daniel’s Table?

A: We have already seen a four fold demand in our services and are providing over a thousand meals per week right now. As unemployment goes up, so will the need. My goal is to never turn anyone away.

Another issue that has popped up is around our volunteers. Normally we have eight people prepping meals alongside one another, but right now we can only have three to maintain social distancing. This presents a unique challenge we are trying to manage.

Finally, we have had to adapt our meal delivery system. Most of our freezers were placed at locations throughout the city such as schools, senior centers and local gathering places that are now closed. We are working with community groups to figure out a new plan such as deliveries and curbside pickups.

No matter what, we will not give up! We are committed to finding the best solutions to these challenges – people depend on it.

Q:  Is there anything else you’d like to share with us?

A: In every disaster there’s a silver lining and right now that’s the way people are responding. Companies and community members are calling us to see what our needs are. It’s donations like yours that help us address the rising demand in the community and we are so grateful to everyone who has stepped up during this trying time. Sous vide will help us prepare more meals quickly to get out to those in need. Every tool, every resource brings us closer to our goal.

COVID-19 has only reinforced our belief that food is critical to the human experience – both for physical and emotional nourishment. Nothing brings people together more than a warm, home cooked meal. If you’d like to donate to support our work, please visit our website here.

Thank you David and Alicia for the amazing work you are doing to help those hit hardest by the pandemic. We are so thankful for organizations like yours.

Until next time!

– Anastasia Plotnikova, CSR Manager

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