Our concept is simple and effective.
- Willing Hands recovers nutritious food that might otherwise go to waste.
- Willing Hands gives this food free of charge to organizations serving our neighbors in need.
View an April 2020 interview with Executive Director, Gabe Zoerheide, on CATV to learn more about our organization’s operations:
Willing Hands Enterprises was founded in 2004 by Peter Phippen, an employee of the Hanover Co-op Food Store, who was dismayed by the amount of nutritious produce that was being thrown in the dumpster every day. He left his job and, in collaboration with the Coop, began to recover this food and give it away to folks who otherwise could not afford it. To read more about how we got started, please see the FAQ section of this website.
These days the Coop Food Stores, through their Sustainability Program, make sure that none of their culled produce is tossed in the dumpster. The best quality surplus is thoughtfully set aside for Willing Hands.
Willing Hands has developed an efficient system for food recovery and distribution. We arrange for regular pick-ups with over 40 food donors and deliver to at least 58 organizations every week, all year long.
In 2019, Willing Hands delivered approximately 266 tons of food to our neighbors in need and 93% of this was fruit and vegetables. The rest includes eggs, milk, frozen meat, and locally-baked whole grain bread. This nutritious, wholesome food is a welcome and essential supplement to the boxed and canned food available at food shelves and regularly consumed by many of our recipients.
Willing Hands serves people in need of all ages throughout our Upper Valley region. We supply produce to food shelves, free community meals, daycare & rehabilitation programs, and to families & seniors in subsidized housing. We serve everyone free of charge.
By providing fruits and vegetables on a regular basis, Willing Hands reduces food insecurity of many of our neediest neighbors. We make it possible for struggling families to bring their diets into a healthier balance. We open the door for these folks to develop a lifelong pattern of healthy eating habits.
Willing Hands offers nutrition education through a popular series of taste-testings and cooking workshops for our recipient sites. Each workshop has a designated nutritional focus and provides inspiration and hands-on instruction about ways to utilize the variety of fruits and vegetables that we provide.
Thanks to our many volunteers (409 individuals in 2019!), Willing Hands generates tons of farm-fresh produce. Volunteers grow organic vegetables in the Willing Hands garden and glean surplus from the fields and orchards of local commercial growers who partner with us. In 2019 our volunteers proudly added over 88,000 pounds of local, fresh produce to our deliveries.
Willing Hands provides an opportunity for our community to work together to share the abundance of delicious, wholesome food that so many of us are privileged to enjoy. It is our hope that one day there will be groups like Willing Hands in every region of the U.S. and beyond.