Growing, nurturing, and harvesting good, nutritious food have always brought Maisie Roberts joy. And because she believes that everyone should have access to affordable, fresh produce, the avid gardener teamed up with her sister to make such universal access a reality by fighting hunger.
Maisie, a Business Banking relationship manager for Wells Fargo in Denver, spends countless volunteer hours working to feed people in need in the most populous area of her state — the Front Range. The Front Range includes Denver, Fort Collins, and other large areas. Together, Maisie and her sister Tracy Lowery built Foraged Feast, a nonprofit that connects locally grown food that would otherwise go to waste with food service organizations in their community.
“Food banks have difficulty providing fresh produce to their clients, and farmers often have excess food after the farmers’ markets close,” says Maisie. “By connecting food banks and service organizations to farmers, we can provide fresh food that would otherwise go unused to those who are hungry.”
Maisie, Tracy, and other Foraged Feast volunteers work with local farmers, farmers’ markets, and wholesale food distributors to recover excess produce. They also support gathering fruit from trees in private and public spaces with permission.
Kayla Birdsong, head of food distribution at GrowHaus, a nonprofit indoor farm, marketplace, and educational center in Denver, says, “Foraged Feast has helped us feed an additional 50 families each week. Our relationship with Foraged Feast has also introduced a tremendous variety of fresh produce in our community, so we also offer cooking classes to help families cook delicious and nutritious meals.”
With the donations from local farmers and farmers’ markets, Maisie and volunteers at Foraged Feast, which she and Tracy began in 2012, provided more than 125,000 pounds of food to organizations like GrowHaus in 2014.
Through Wells Fargo’s Volunteer Leave program, which provides paid leave to team members who are passionate about volunteering, Maisie spent three months last summer working full time to improve the nonprofit’s food delivery options, harvest fresh produce, and — using her financial and business expertise — help it grow. She also was awarded a $5,000 grant from Wells Fargo to support Foraged Feast.
“Food insecurity affects one in six Americans and that could be your neighbor, your kid’s classmate, or someone you see around town,” says Maisie. “There’s enough food produced each year to feed everyone who is hungry. We’re trying to meet that need, but anyone can make a difference in their own community and neighborhood.”
A version of this story appeared in the 2014 Corporate Social Responsibility Report and the 2014 Wells Fargo Annual Report (PDF).