NFRD Who's Who: Q&A with Jackie DeCarlo of Community Food Rescue

This is the eighth post in our NFRD Who's Who series, a collection of interviews with the fantastic leaders who will be speaking at the National Food Recovery Dialogue from April 2-4. Stay tuned – we'll be sharing more interviews as we count down to the NFRD.

Jackie DeCarlo is the Executive Director of Community Food Rescue. Jackie’s professional background is in education and not-for-profit management, and she has promoted economic and social justice within communities around the United States, in Africa, Latin America, and Europe. Originally an elementary school teacher, Jackie became involved in international economic and justice work at the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI), developing USCRI’s first overseas direct service programs. Jackie was the first director of the newly independent Fair Trade Resource Network and worked for eight years at Catholic Relief Services, leading is Fair Trade program expansion in the United States. Currently serving as Manna Food Center’s Executive Director, Jackie is responsible for the strategic development of the leading community-based organization working to end hunger in Montgomery County, Maryland. She currently serves on the Montgomery County Food Council and is leading the Community Food Rescue network designed to reduce both food waste and hunger in the County. Fair Trade: A Beginner’s Guide, Jackie’s first book, was released on May 12, 2007, World Fair Trade Day. Jackie’s ongoing commitment to economic justice and responsible consumption is nurtured through her place of worship, the Bethesda Friends (Quaker) Meeting. In her free time Jackie enjoys yoga, gardening, and spending time with friends and family. In addition obtaining a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from Agnes Scott College in Atlanta, Georgia, Jackie earned her Master of Science in Administration from University College at the University of Maryland. In July 2015 she was named one of “50 Under 50” Food Heroes in the Washington, DC region. Montgomery Magazine named her one of “Six People Who Make a Difference in Montgomery County” in December 2015. She regularly benefits from continuing education from the Center for Courage and Renewal.

FRN: What are you looking forward to at the conference?

Jackie DeCarlo: Being among student leaders again. Before coming to Manna Food Center, I used to regularly attend college convergences promoting Fair Trade. In those settings I had my perspectives broadened by students and my beliefs and approaches to justice work challenged. Hopefully I also shared some useful perspectives about the realities of nonprofit work and will do so at the dialogue.

FRN: Why are you passionate about food recovery?

JD: As those in the movement often state, food is a powerful, essential connector of people and cultures. Without food, people and societies can’t thrive. I am passionate about system work because I believe that with the right values and responsible activities we can create mechanisms for a workable system: one in which everyone has enough food to eat in a way that is fair to the producers of the food and respectful of the planet.

FRN: What's your proudest accomplishment of your career?

JD: I was contracted to write a book called ‘Fair Trade: A Beginner’s Guide” that was a tremendous amount of work, exposed me to economic justice leaders around the world, and seems to have helped inform and inspire readers. I am proud that I contributed to the growth of the fair trade movement. Promoting the book and its principles helped me build the confidence to turn my attention to domestic programs that support the kind of world I want to live in—one free of hunger and food insecurity.

FRN: Time for some fun. What would you say your spirit kitchen utensil is?

JD: I’d be a coffee grinder because fair trade organic beans from Peace Coffee in Minneapolis (a plug for my favorite coffee company) always make the best brew when freshly ground.


Interested in learning more about Jackie's work with Community Food Rescue? Register for the National Food Recovery Dialogue today and follow Community Food Rescue on Facebook and Twitter!