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Volunteer Spotlight: Drew Mannen

by Kaylene Bishop

Drew Mannen clearly loves his family. Formerly a police officer, he is a stay-at-home parent and his wife, Erin, is a professor of mechanical engineering at BSU. Their arrangement allows them to travel and last year they took a trip overseas. A favorite spot was Mallorca, Spain where they enjoyed the island’s food, culture, and walkability. He wants his kids to know where food comes from, and as the family chef, Drew cooks a multi-cultural variety with whole ingredients in mind. He’s gotten into fermentation, making kimchi, sauerkraut, kefir, and sourdough bread. Drew likes all food but is partial to poke, particularly when they are on Kailua, Hawaii. They enjoy the Idaho outdoors: lakes, hot springs, ski resorts, and hiking. “As a parent you are always tired. But you can be tired and do cool things, or you can be tired and not do cool things.”

Along with a tangible passion for healthy eating and sharpened awareness of food insecurity and waste, another motivating factor for him is getting his kids involved. I met these delightful humans at Java Hyde Park. On school breaks, his son (9 yrs) and daughter (6 yrs) accompany Dad on his weekly food recovery route. In the summers, several resident kids at Davis Park, an affordable apartment community, will eagerly wait for Drew’s arrival and will joyfully carry boxes. His kids enjoy helping with boxes and, as his son put it, “See[ing] other kids that are happy there.” Another stop on Drew’s route is Shoreline Plaza, an 80 unit apartment complex of mainly seniors, where resident Dyana said, “Rolling Tomato is a blessing. We all share the food, everyone gets a treat, and we love it when he brings his kids.”

At the coffee shop, they all enjoyed a delicious muffin. Later, Drew calmly denied a request from Jay to have candy from the communal bowl. The kids are allowed sugar but there are loving boundaries in place, which he said makes it difficult and a “source of guilt” as a parent when sugar is ubiquitous everywhere: banks, schools, medical offices, coffee shops. Having no kids myself, I assume it must feel like an uphill battle but such is a hero’s life—they will thank him later.

Rolling Tomato volunteers, "Team Drew", a family effort.

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