Lovin' Spoonfuls deals with the dark side of dinner: food waste. Every day of the work week,"food rescue coordinators" redistribute food that wasn't sold at Boston's farmer's markets and grocery stores to the area's soup kitchens and public pantries. The organization rescues over 60,000 pounds each week, reaching more than 35,000 people, and has rescued more than 8.5 million pounds to date. It's a cause everyone can enthusiastically get behind, but Ashley Stanley's organization isn't one of the city's most beloved nonprofits by coincidence. A lot of after-hours work, planning, and balancing takes place in and out of the office––read for yourself.
I wake up around 6 or 6:30, not because I want to, but because we have to get our puppy, Tucker, into the city for obedience school. My fiance is finishing her MBA and also working on a project of her own, so making sure he is active and happy during the day gives us the freedom to do what we need to.
Between 7:30 and 8:30 AM, we drop Tucker off and head to our respective offices.
On days when I’m in the office, I’m in by 10 or 10:30. There are mornings where I have breakfast with a potential donor, a meeting with my board chair, or getting to any number of different off-site meetings. I used to find the time in my mornings to go to the gym and work out, but that has sort of dissolved as of late. I’m looking forward to incorporating it back into my schedule in 2018. Balance is hard! The thing is, as a founder, I never really get to turn off. Even when the workday ends and the meetings are done and the emails have been sent, I feel responsible not just for my business but for my employees. I essentially guarantee their paychecks and sustainable jobs, with the benefits for them to go and have healthy and productive lives. That responsibility is always on my mind, so while I want to protect my own time, it’s never far from my mind at all. That can be sort of a thread that runs up right until I fall asleep, and then I wake up thinking about it.
While I’m at the office, there are a number of check-ins that happen. My COO and I are pretty much in constant contact in or out of the office. My company is small—we’re 15 people and the bulk of the staff are Food Rescue Coordinators who are out on the road and working out of their trucks. In the office, I could be working with my Communications Director on any number of appeals, giving an interview, or moving forward with efforts to promote any events we might have coming up. That’s the funny thing. We’re 8 years old, we have a fairly strong foothold in the community, but we for sure still have a startup vibe. When your job is meeting your community’s needs, you have to be adaptable and nimble enough to be responsive to whatever comes across your desk. To our board, our donors, our beneficiaries—there’s a primary level of responsiveness that’s just required to be a part of this.
If I had my way, I’d like to leave work at five o’clock, pick up the pooch and then head home. That said, in reality, I often have speaking engagements or events outside of work hours. I always try to plan my day around what my family needs first, and then work within those boundaries. Certainly the demands of my work can exceed them, but we all do our best. Sometimes I could be working until 9 or 10 at night, but I’m fortunate enough to have the mobility and flexibility to grab something at the grocery store or some take out if necessary.
We love to cook at home. So much of work for me is centered around the restaurant community, and it’s this amazing occupational hazard that I end up eating in restaurants multiple times a week. It’s great, because I love supporting my friends and the folks who support Lovin’ Spoonfuls as much as we can. Honestly, though, we also love to just be at home to have a quiet night to cook and…not go anywhere. I love not going anywhere. Sometimes I just want my sweatpants and my family and that’s it.
We live right near JP Pond, and I love when it stays lighter longer. You can take really long walks when the weather’s nice, and I love to be outside. One of my greatest joys is walking my dog, so if that’s an option, that’s wonderful. Otherwise, I love to get some quiet time, some wind-down time. As a founder and CEO, it’s almost less about the work because I have such an amazing team where I can trust their output, I’m just always thinking about my team as an extension of my family.
––As told to and written by Oset Babur for The Thirty-One Percent