Restaurateurs, Chefs Work With Gather Nonprofit to Tackle Food Waste on the Seacoast

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Barbara MacLeod photo

Chefs Mark Segal and Evan Mallet with Gather Culinary Director Tania Marino and Gather Community Engagement Manager Kate Constantine

The nonprofit organization announces  “Seacoast Waste Not” – a coalition that repurposes surplus, quality food to feed the community

Portsmouth, New Hampshire – Gather, a nonprofit that has developed innovative programs to address food insecurity and provide free food to residents in 59 communities in southern New Hampshire, has announced an initiative to utilize excess food from the hospitality industry.

It’s called Seacoast Waste Not and is comprised of chefs and food industry leaders who are committed to reducing food waste by donating their surplus ingredients to Gather. Gather has created a system of picking up the food from participating caterers, restaurants, and clubs, and preparing healthy meals that will be available for those in need at Gather’s food pantry in Portsmouth. 

Seacoast Waste Not not only addresses hunger but also diverts excess food that would otherwise end up in landfills, according to Gather’s Culinary Director, Tania Marino, who is spearheading the program. She says, “It’s estimated that in the U.S., almost 40% of food produced goes to waste and 10% of our households don’t have enough healthy food to eat. In many cases, food tossed into landfills is wholesome and fresh, so this initiative is a win/win. We are excited and grateful to the hospitality community for their commitment to Seacoast Waste Not.”

Acclaimed restaurateur Evan Mallet says Black Trumpet has been composting for 17 years but it’s not enough;“Our Seacoast community is really going to set an example for others to follow. We, as chefs, are often working with really good quality ingredients and we discard more than we should, so this is an opportunity to get the food out there into the Gather community.” 

Fold’d Community Diner’s Executive Chef Mark Segal says, “The scale of this is going to make it enticing for restaurants to participate. I don’t know anyone who enjoys throwing away good food but chefs will often feel like they don’t have large enough quantities to participate in a meaningful way but that’s not the case. With this initiative,  it doesn’t need to be 50 lbs of this or a case of that. If you have a few deli containers that Gather can help turn into a sauce – fantastic – let them know and they’ll come get it.” 

Those interested in joining the coalition should fill out an application form on Marino and her team of volunteers organize the pickup and create the recipes to repurpose the food into delicious and nutritious meals prepared at Gather’s Cooking 4 Community kitchens. The meals are then packaged for delivery to the Gather food pantry. “Maintaining food safety through all the processes is a priority,” says Marino. She says Seacoast Waste Not accepts a wide array of donations, including perishable and nonperishable foods, fresh or frozen items,  single ingredients, or fully prepared offerings. 

Participants can be any food provider – restaurants, chefs, caterers, farms, country clubs, and hotels. Nina Parrott of Fifth Flavor catering is a founding member of the coalition. She says, “Reducing food waste in my kitchen saves money and the planet, feeds hungry people, and forces me to be a more creative chef. It’s easy to cook with expensive, high-end ingredients, but I think some of my best dishes have come from challenging myself to use the seeds, roots, stalks, and leaves in interesting ways. I’m so excited to be a part of this coalition; not only to teach, but to learn from the other amazing Seacoast chefs dedicated to the same cause.” 

The 10 founding members of SWS include Black Trumpet’s Evan Mallett, Fifth Flavor’s Nina Parrott, Vida Cantina’s David Vargas, Ore Nell’s Tim Barr, Jumpin’ Jay’s Harley Smith, Favorite Foods’ Chris Barstow, Mark Segal from Fold’d, Jennifer Desrosiers from Altitude Companies, Sarah Cox from Tuckaway Farms and Paul Simbliaris from Tuckaway Tavern. Many more restaurants have signed on to join the program. 

About Gather
Gather offers innovative programs that build food security in welcoming and dignified ways. Founded in 1816, Gather is one of the oldest social service organizations in the country. For over two centuries, Gather has been a regional leader in addressing hunger. Over the last decade, the organization revolutionized its approach and expanded from a traditional food pantry to incorporate cutting-edge mobile programs that distribute fresh food in the Greater Seacoast region. Individuals and families from more than 65 southern New Hampshire and York County, Maine towns are served at the pantry and free mobile markets. For more information, visit

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