Ian Yaffe's Recipe Calls for Awareness of Hunger, Poverty

Story posted May 15, 2009

Ian Yaffe '09 has a habit of cooking up great ideas. Along with David Falkof '09 and Katie Hinkick '09, he created Food Forward, which comprises two programs.

The Food Recovery program transports nearly 3,000 pounds of unused food from campus to the MidCoast Hunger Prevention Program each semester, while working to educate students about poverty and hunger issues.

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Executive Chef Ian Yaffe '09 places a pan of steaks just off the grill in a chaffing rack as dinner is about to be served. Photos by Robert Guerette '07.

Check out the Food Forward Web site.

The education component has been served up through the Taste for Change program. Students cook gourmet meals and invite other students, faculty, staff and community members, who pay a small fee to attend. Proceeds are donated to non-profit organizations. Guest speakers discuss issues of hunger or poverty in the area.

"Taste for Change is a non-profit restaurant that provides advanced volunteer opportunities, community education, and financial support for our partners," says Yaffe, the program's executive chef.

"One hundred percent of the donations received at the dinner go an organization working to change communities. We are also available to host special events for other social justice organizations that want to raise money, but don't want to focus on the food preparation aspect of the dinner."

On Friday, May 8, 2009, Yaffe coordinated the 15th Taste for Change dinner, where his team served 80 people and raised more than $750 for non-profits in Latin America.

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Pan-seared tuna with sesame seed crust and soy sauce reduction

"Creating Taste for Change was the result of some crazy ideas I had when working as a display cook at Thorne and eventually a project I completed during the fall of 2006 for Doris Santoro's Education and Social Justice class," says Yaffe.

"Since our first dinner in March 2007, we've raised over $5,000 and served over 275 people."

View a slideshow of images from the Taste for Change dinner here.

At the dinner held at Ladd House, Kyle Dempsey '11 and Brooks Winner '10 spoke about their work with non-profits in Latin America.

Yaffe credits Dining Service for its enthusiastic support of Food Forward. "Without the help of their chefs, none of this would be possible," he says.

"They've helped me develop menus for upwards of 50 guests, cooked 20 pounds of pasta during the dinner rush because I forgot to get the water boiling at Ladd and steamed 50 lobsters for me in Thorne simply to make my job easier."

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Guests enjoy dessert in the Ladd House dining room.

Yaffe's work around hunger has earned him praise and commendations, including a national student humanitarian award. He was one of five students from across the country selected to receive the Campus Compact's 2008 Howard R. Swearer Student Humanitarian Award for showing extraordinary commitment to improving their local and global communities.

"Ian worked hard to figure out what program would meet community needs, utilize Bowdoin resources and also educate the Bowdoin community," said Sarah Seames, coordinator of community service programs for the College.
"The Food Forward program is a great example of how a student with a passion for an issue can mobilize people and resources to meet a true community need."

After graduation Yaffe plans to return home to Martha's Vineyard to work again as assistant harbormaster and firefighter for the Town of Chilmark while awaiting word on his application to the U.S. Coast Guard's Officer Candidate School.

Food Forward's two directors, Falkof and Kindick, are also graduating, but they leave the program in good hands. Robby Bitting '11 has already taken over Food Recovery this semester and will continue to run it next year. Chantal Crawley '10, Nico Fenichell '12 and Drew Trafton '10 will be running Taste for Change next year.

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