Bagel S.O.S.

Bagel S.O.S.

Volunteer coordinator Erin Steiglitz has rescued more than 500,000 bagels to help feed those in need.

After 37 years with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and now with the AJT, , Jaffe’s focus is lifestyle, art, dining, fashion, and community events with emphasis on Jewish movers and shakers.

The Stieglitz family marched in the Fourth of July Dunwoody Parade and gave out bagel coupons from their donors.
The Stieglitz family marched in the Fourth of July Dunwoody Parade and gave out bagel coupons from their donors.

There is nothing stale about mom and Emory University graduate Erin Stieglitz, who had a career as an entertainment publicist for Turner Broadcasting before co-founding a communications business.

During the pandemic, she paused to focus on family. Now, she devotes 30-40 hours a week “rescuing” and delivering bagels to those in need. Stieglitz serves as a communication hub for collecting unused bagels from donors with an elaborate volunteer delivery service, all with perishable items.

She said, “Bagel Rescue helps organizations that feed people suffering from food insecurity, including shelters, food pantries, youth programs, senior centers, addiction recovery facilities, people living in extended-stay hotels, and street outreach efforts.” They also offer bagels to fire stations, hospital workers, and police officers when available.

Erin Stieglitz got these Davis Academy boys involved in bagging bagels on the Davis Academy’s Day of Service

Bagel Rescue’s growth is a win-win example with 28 bagel shop partners, 60-80 volunteers who touch the project every week, making more than 80 regular weekly deliveries, and another 20 on a monthly rotation. In two years, she has made more than 4,500 deliveries and rescued more than a half a million bagels from being tossed in dumpsters.

She added, “This is a complete team effort, and I’m so proud of what we have collectively accomplished.”

Stieglitz’s day consists of morning bagel deliveries with bagels rescued the day before. Then, she does three to four morning rescues to stock up for deliveries for later. She then organizes routes, communicates with volunteers, recruits new volunteers, plans for special events, social media, manages financials, and administrative tasks.

Volunteers pick up bagels from her house. Then, she heads back out in the afternoon for more rescues and deliveries. Then, there’s the important “giving end” with 28 bagel shop donors whose model is to sell freshly made bagels to customers each day. Without knowing exactly what will sell and offering many flavors, leftovers are common.

Erin Steiglitz’s son delivered bagels to the Landmark Church.

Stieglitz said, “My partners are making the responsible choice by donating their bagels to Bagel Rescue so we can put them to good use feeding neighbors in need. Good food should not be wasted!” She works with multiple locations of Goldberg’s, Bagel Boys, Einstein Bros. Bagels, Soho Bagels, and 101 Bagel Cafe, and single shops like Bronx Bagels, Emerald City Bagels, Sunny’s Bagels & Deli, Brooklyn Bagel, and Bagelicious.

The idea was born when, during the holiday season of 2020, the Stieglitz family was looking for a service project. They typically went to shelters or served a meal or did a craft project with residents. However, because of COVID, they needed a different plan. Stieglitz thought of frontline workers and called Northside Hospital.

The family gathered bulk bagels, spreads, and orange juice.

She recalled when her son, Rhys, then nice, asked why we couldn’t get bagels from one of our favorite bagel shops, Goldberg’s. I relayed it wouldn’t be cost effective, and we couldn’t feed as many people. He suggested asking Goldberg’s if they would help. So, I said, ‘why don’t you call?’ And he did! The manager agreed to give us the bagels from the day before. We set up the date and had a plan.” And viola!

Bagel Rescue makes a space for communities and volunteers to work together.

The bottom line: Bagel Rescue combines many worthy causes:
* The Environment – keeping bagels out of landfills
* Hunger Relief – filling bellies
* Social Justice – helping marginalized and unserved communities by bringing food dignity directly to them
* Community – connecting people who may not otherwise cross paths through partnerships like with Repair the World, The Davis Academy, Temple Sinai, Foundation for Jewish Camp, and even husband Graham’s law firm Burr & Forman which does a monthly bagel bagging project. Companies and extended families can do a Bagel Rescue project rather than have a holiday party; and teens in Stieglitz’s neighborhood spend afternoons bagging bagels when called upon.

Stieglitz concluded, “I hope to continue to strengthen each aspect of these causes. To be sustainable, we need funding for operational costs and development. I hope that Bagel Rescue will grow into more food groups eventually, when we have the bandwidth to safely handle more than semi-perishable foods.”

The Stieglitz’s belong to Temple Kehillat Chaim in Roswell. Graham, children, Rhys and Declan, are used to Bagel Rescue being in their home headquarters. “The kids are often co-pilots on routes and deal with the smell and lingering crumbs of bagels in our car,” Erin related.

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