Los Alamos often tops lists of wealthy, high-income towns so it may seem to be the last place where there would be issues with hunger but “food insecurity is very real,” Jaret McDonald of Los Alamos said. His wife, Jen, agreed; explaining food insecurity does not equal starvation but does describe situations where individuals struggle to feed themselves and their families.
As a result, the McDonalds created the 501 c(3) nonprofit, Famine to Feast. They will officially introduce the community to Famine to Feast noon to 3 p.m., Nov. 5 at Ashley Pond Park. The Los Alamos Big Band will provide live music and representatives from LA Cares and the Food Depot in Santa Fe will attend. Free hot dogs will be served.
Jaret, who is a candidate for Los Alamos County Council, emphasized this is not an event for politics. “The day is about awareness (on) food insecurity,” he said.
The organization offers a website and an app for people to donate food to the local food pantry, LA Cares. The app is available through iTunes and the website is faminetofeastnow.org. The way it works is simple: participants enter the food items they wish to donate on either the app or the website and provide their location. The food is picked up, a tax donation receipt printed, and the food delivered to LA Cares. There is a list on the website identifying what can and cannot be donated.
“All people need to do is get on the app, push a button and we’ll take care of the rest,” Jaret said.
The organization has been operating, unofficially, for almost a year. The McDonalds explained they wanted to make sure the website and app worked properly and that the funds were in place before officially starting.
“We wanted to make sure we had our stuff together,” Jen said.
A group of volunteers from the community helped ensure Famine to Feast got off the ground. Volunteers include Tanya Sprouse-Mosley. “She’s been such a huge part of our organization,” Jaret said.
Additionally, David Van Etten, formerly of Los Alamos, designed the website and local resident Michael Ham designed the app. Jaret said the organization’s volunteers have been invaluable. “We’re just so grateful,” he said.
Numerous businesses in the community also have financially contributed to Famine to Feast including Zia Realty Group. Additionally, the organization has caught the attention of Lt. Gov. John Sanchez. Jaret said Sanchez has been involved in the organization since its inception and has been very supportive.
The organization is not just gaining attention on a state level but on a national one, too. Jaret said they are hopeful the organization can move to other areas, which have shown interest in the program, including Portland, Ore., El Segundo, Calif. and Austin, Texas. They also hope to have the organization operate in Santa Fe and Albuquerque.
“We’re hoping it will be even more favorable when we officially launch. We hope more people get involved and get engaged,” he said.
To spread awareness, Jaret said flyers will be delivered to every door in Los Alamos describing the organization and the Nov. 5 event. Also, they hope to distribute Famine to Feast magnets.
The organization has had a successful soft opening. So far, the McDonalds estimate they have delivered 1,000 pounds of food to LA Cares. Additionally, the organization delivered 1,500 pounds of fruit and water to the firefighters battling the Dog Head Fire in June.
“It’s an exciting time,” Jaret said. “This clearly works.”