Last spring, Conor Kennedy ’14 introduced a non-profit organization called Deerfield Foods. This year, the student-run, non-profit business has expanded and its presence is growing on campus and around Franklin County.
The organization seeks to fight food insecurity in Franklin County by providing affordable boxed foods to families. Each box contains 19 pounds of food and is sold at 50 percent off supermarket prices. Once a month, Deerfield Foods staff members deliver the boxes to the Center for Self-Reliance Food Pantry in Greenfield, where area families can pick them up. Each box also includes recipes that are specially designed to require little time to learn and complete.
One phone call with a woman who had received such a box particularly resonated with Kennedy. He explained that this woman had been an “upwardly mobile, hard-working mom with a graduate-level education,” but after becoming disabled, was constantly worried. After she found Deerfield Foods, she told Kennedy and the rest of the staff, “I will worry a whole lot less as I order from you today.”
In starting Deerfield Foods, Kennedy wanted to “start a business that does good.” He wanted to make a difference without using the traditional tactics involved in non-profit work, such as fundraising and bake sales.
“Looking at a spreadsheet and seeing that we made 100 families happier and healthier,” he said, “felt a lot better than saying I had raised awareness.”
Because Deerfield Foods is entirely student-run, the staff members “are all ultimately responsible for making Deerfield Foods succeed or fail,” new head of the organization Gordon Xiang ’15 explained. “I think it’s this idea that empowers us to make it better.”
This year, the Deerfield Foods staff has made many improvements and changes in the organization, such as streamlining the packaging process, reforming the order-taking/calling process, diversifying the box contents, adding a vegetarian box and opening a business-checking account.
Some goals that Deerfield Foods is working to accomplish include establishing a new host site, getting The Greenfield Recorder to write an article about the organization and making a public radio announcement.
As Deerfield Foods continues to expand, Xiang hopes that it “becomes an organization that ultimately transcends grades at Deerfield so that it can continue to grow, fight food insecurity and provide a great learning opportunity for Deerfield Students.”