FACT: Over 96 billion pounds of food are wasted each year. That’s roughly 40% of all the available food in the United States.

And, if this statistic isn’t staggering enough, there are nearly 49 million Americans considered “food insecure”, with 16.2 million of them children. These facts and figures, along with the sight of too much leftover food at the table one afternoon, are what drew Ashley Stanley away from her burgeoning career in fashion to do something about it and launch her non-profit food rescue, Lovin’ Spoonfuls. LovinSpoonfulsFood

After taking inventory of the large portions of food she and her mom had left on their plates following a lunch out, Ashley started to think about how much food was probably going uneaten and being wasted by other patrons and restaurants around her hometown of Boston. She wondered what happens to it all and started researching and learning about the subject of food waste that afternoon. Shortly thereafter, Lovin’ Spoonfuls was born.

“Lovin’ Spoonfuls does hero’s work, angels work, rescuing food and getting healthy nutritious sustenance into the mouths of those who need it most.” – Andrew Zimmern, Chef & Host, Bizarre Foods

“The time was right. We all hit a point in our lives when we’re just looking for relevance. I wasn’t looking to start a nonprofit. I was looking to be involved in food recovery – I didn’t even know what it was,” Ashley shared in a previous interview with Business Insider.

Ashley established Lovin’ Spoonfuls in 2010, committing to helping to eradicate hunger in and around the Boston area through food rescue. The Lovin’ Spoonfuls team picks up perishable foods that would otherwise be thrown away from area vendors, markets, restaurants and bakeries and then distributes them to crisis centers, soup kitchens and other social assistance entities in and around the city.

Lovin’ Spoonfuls bridges the gap between the incredible abundance of food available and the ever-growing need. To date, they have distributed over 625,000 pounds (and counting) of wholesome, ready-to-eat food to the people who need it most. And, in an effort to increase public awareness for food rescue, the organization also hosts regular community events.

Ashley’s inspiring story was sent in to Women You Should Know by her friend Shannon, who shared with us “Since learning about Lovin’ Spoonfuls mission, I’ve been completely engaged by Ashley’s passion to feed Massachusetts’ hunger-population, and her overwhelming message that with the proper education and resources, no one in this state has to go hungry. Ending hunger IS possible, and very, very attainable because of people doing work like Ashley.”

We can all make a difference.

More About Lovin’ Spoonfuls:

In 2012 Lovin’ Spoonfuls was named a winner of the MassChallenge competition, the largest-ever startup accelerator and competition to support high-impact, early-stage entrepreneurs.

Lovin’ Spoonfuls has received special commendations from both the House of Representatives and the Senate for its commitment and impact in the Commonwealth.

Ashley has also been honored by Oxfam International for her commitment to social justice through hunger relief, and was asked to become a member of Oxfam International’s Sisters of the Planet committee.