The peer learning grants from the Center for Cooperative Media at Montclair State University are disarming in their simplicity. They exist to do nothing more than help us humans get out of our day-to-day routines and connect with one another.

The Center says it offers the grants because “it believes strongly in collaboration and knowledge-sharing.” In my experience, as founder and editor of Food Bank News, a nonprofit publication, the peer learning grant handily achieved those goals.

In normal times, the Center offers grants of $500 to $1,000 to enable working journalists to travel to and visit with publications that…

By Chris Costanzo

As someone who happens to know a lot about food banks, people often ask me which one they should donate to, especially now, as images of miles-long lines for food begin to penetrate everyone’s consciousness.

The first thing to note is that while food banks are doing monumental work — meeting an average 59% increase in demand — their ability to feed people has only ever been about one-ninth as effective as the federal government’s. …

It’s the rare celebrity chef who is also a policy wonk, but that at least partly describes Michel Nischan, a three-time James Beard Award winning chef who’s as conversant as anyone in Congress on the nuances of the farm bill. Nischan is also a food activist and innovator who figured out how to leverage the massive supplemental nutrition assistance program (SNAP) within the farm bill to promote increased fruit and vegetable consumption through the company he founded, Wholesome Wave. …

It didn’t take long for John Whitaker to confirm that his idea for diverting food headed for the landfill was a keeper. After investing only $10,000, Whitaker accepted his first load of perfectly good food saved from the dump. It was worth $33,000.

Following a nearly 30-year career in the retail grocery business, Whitaker, the Executive Director of the Midwest Food Bank of Indiana, was familiar with the many reasons that quality food might get rejected by a grocer. And he felt bad for truckers saddled with the rejected loads. Nobody wanted to see the food go to waste, but dumping it was usually the cheapest and easiest way for the truckers to be able to move quickly onto the next job.

That’s until Whitaker, working with the Indy Hunger Network and the Indiana Motor Truck Association, came along with his exceedingly simple…

Chris Costanzo

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