With many partners, generous customers, Job Lot launches another convoy to end hunger

By John Howell
Posted 4/28/16

As a Rhode Islander, you know those trailer trucks with the giant lettering “THE END.” And as a Rhode Islander, you also know the rest of the wording – “to high prices.”

While Ocean …

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With many partners, generous customers, Job Lot launches another convoy to end hunger

Posted

As a Rhode Islander, you know those trailer trucks with the giant lettering “THE END.” And as a Rhode Islander, you also know the rest of the wording – “to high prices.”

While Ocean State Job Lot prides itself in bringing lower prices to its customers, the company’s founders are looking to bring “the end” to hunger. Tuesday morning, more than 150 people gathered at one of the Job Lot warehouses at Quonset Point for the first installment of a 113-truck delivery of shelf-stable food – enough for almost 3.4 million meals – to 14 food banks in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, New Jersey and New York.

“Imagination is what this is all about,” David Sarlitto, executive director of Job Lot and the Job Lot Charitable Foundation.

Sarlitto said imagination has been the driving force of Job Lot, which has taken the rules of retailing and turned them upside down. “We can take a dollar and turn it into five dollars.”

Many more dollars are going into the Three Square Meals Family Meal Assistance Program. Job Lot is making a record $1.5 million donation to the program through donations made by its customers and foundation. Many more are sponsoring Three Square Meals, including Kellogg’s, Centerville Bank, Bob’s Red Mill, Polar Beverages, Arbella Insurance, regional Rotary and Lions Clubs and Atlas Pallet. The New England Patriots Alumni Club, led by former 12-year offensive lineman Pete Brock, is also on the team.

Over the 12 years Job Lot has run the program, between $15 million and $20 million has been donated to fight hunger.

At Tuesday’s event, the “Pat Patriot” mascot waved the flag as 17 trucks pulled out of their bays and the caravan hit the road, driving through an arch of spray sent upward from a North Kingstown fire apparatus. The convoy included a RIPTA bus loaded with food and was led off by New England Patriots alumni cheerleaders and the “Tow-mater” monster truck.

Job Lot co-founder Alan Perlman said the company’s employees and customers “make us strong,” adding, “we couldn’t have done it without the hard work of our partners all pulling in the same direction.” He said as the company grows in visibility and sales, it will be able to give even more.

Job Lot is working to expand the network and reach those living in food insecurity.

Catherine D’Amato, president and CEO of the Greater Boston Food Bank, lauded the effort, saying, “There is not a program like this in the country.” She said that one in seven Americans goes to a food pantry. “We can end hunger. I can imagine it and the Perlman family can imagine it.”

Job Lot has teamed up with Ricky Ashenfelter, founder and CEO of Spoiler Alert, who has developed an app that assists in matching those who have food that would go to waste because it is outdated or due to spoil with those who can get it to those needing it.

“This is the face of a hunger solution,” Sarlitto said of the app.

Ashenfelter said that 40 percent of food gets discarded. In addition to the app designed to effectively place food no longer suitable for human consumption for other uses such as animal feed, Sarlitto disclosed he is talking to Uber. With so many cars on the road across the country, he is exploring the possibility of using Uber as part of a delivery network.

Through partnerships and expanding the team, Sarlitto looks to remove the program from a dependence on the “Herculean efforts of a few who can afford it.”

Another of that team speaking Tuesday was Mel Gosselin, executive director of the New Hampshire Food Bank and Food Factory. Gosselin said one in four people in New Hampshire is threatened by food insecurity. The food bank, through its food factory, will begin processing food that will end up on shelves as product that will go to needy, or be sold with all proceeds going back to help fight hunger.

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