Foodshare President's Blog

Foodshare President's Blog

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Feed the world or end poverty?

An interesting article on entitled, "Instead of trying to feed the world, we should be ending poverty."

When we talk about hunger, whether it's here in the US or around the world, we do tend to talk about how to increase the food supply -- sometimes it's about running a food drive or sometimes it's about new technologies that will allow farmers to grow more food.

But most experts agree:  there is enough food.  The problem is that people cannot afford to buy the food and don't have the resources to grow their own food.

Why aren't we talking about this?  Maybe because it's too hard, poverty seems to be too intractable a problem.  And solutions to poverty won't happen with sweeping global or regional change, they will happen one family at a time.

Bridges Out of Poverty is a proven program that can do that one family at a time.  We're thrilled to have piloted this program in Hartford and are working hard to secure the funds and resources to continue it.   Learn more about Foodshare's work with this program here.
And read more about possible policy solutions to hunger here.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Hartford Harley Owners Group donates to Foodshare

My season of "last" events continues...

Yesterday was the Hartford Harley Owners Group's 20th annual "Turkey Run" - the day, when my children were young, was called "the day the motorcycles come to Foodshare."  It was my last time to greet the riders as they arrived at Foodshare with their donations of turkeys and cash.

A few of the riders have been involved in this event since the beginning and all of them and their generous spirits are among those I will miss as I move away from greater Hartford in December.

Thanks to all who have worked so hard to make this event a success over the last 20 years!


Friday, October 10, 2014

Autumn is a time for transitions

Fall is indeed a time of transition, and today’s final harvest in our first ever community garden proved the point. Director of Development Wendy Kohn, Individual Giving Manager Merry Renduchintala, Events Coordinator Jordan Nyberg, and Grants and Program Impact Manager Miranda Muro spent today’s lunch break gently easing plants out of their soil before the mid-October frost. The final harvest included tomatoes, hot peppers and watermelon. They left the flourishing basil plants out there for a little while longer, and the bees were still enjoying the marigolds.

The community garden not only gave our staff a chance to unwind, but it also provided hands-on experience with exactly the types of foods we distribute to communities in need every day - fully 50% of the food we hand out is fresh produce!

Everyone at Foodshare will miss the garden, but look forward to continue using it for years to come!

And, of course, this fall is a time of transitions for me.  Not only am I putting my home garden to bed, I'm making plans for my move to the North Country and my new job at GardenShare in Canton, NY.

The transition process has begun at Foodshare with the Board of Directors having named a Transition Committee made up of Board members, staff members, and community representatives.  The committee will be doing a three part transition process.  Starting shortly, they will lead an organizational assessment to consider Foodshare's strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.  The result of this assessment will be a position profile - not a job description which already exists, but a profile of the kind of person Foodshare needs for its next leader.  When that is done, around February, the second phase of an executive search will begin.  And the third phase, the on-boarding of a new CEO will hopefully start by next summer.

What happens in the meantime?  Christine O'Rourke, Foodshare's Chief Operating Officer, and a 27-year veteran at the organization will serve as Interim CEO.

Go here or here to follow updates on the transition process.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Thought leaders

I'm out of town at my last Feeding America meeting for local food bank CEO's.

I'm not sure why, but once again I was surprised to learn that Feeding America is just thinking about something that we have been doing at Foodshare for the last couple of years.

Closing the Meal's clear to us in Hartford that we can't close our local meal gap of 24 million meals, which is twice the amount of food we distributed last year, by just building a bigger food bank.  So we have developed a plan to close the gap by engaging the whole community to both get more food, through all channels, and to build people's self-sufficiency so that they don't need food.  Feeding America is just starting to consider that we can't close the gap with more food donations alone, and that maybe we need to count other ways of getting food to people in need in order to close the gap.

Here are Foodshare's ten year goals which we are on track to achieve by 2022:

Engage 30,000 people in work to close the meal gap and end hunger, by building self-sufficiency and increasing access to food.  Activities could include policy advocacy work, one-on-one interventions with low-income people.  Engagement could take place through Foodshare, partner agencies, Hunger Action Teams, or other community partners.

Success will be measured by closing the meal gap of 24 million meals in the following ways:

·         Providing an additional 5 million meals through Foodshare’s work to recover food that would otherwise be wasted (in addition to the current 12million meals, bringing the total meals provided to 17 million).

·         Playing a leadership role, in various coalitions, advocacy efforts, and outreach campaigns, resulting in

o   90% of eligible Hartford and Tolland County residents enrolled in SNAP providing an additional 13.2 million meals to people in need

o   60% of the eligible children are receiving breakfast at school providing an additional 2,000,000 meals

o   40% of the eligible children are receiving food in the summer through the Summer Food Service Program providing an additional 350,000 more meals.

·         Developing and implementing new programs to increase low-income families’ self-sufficiency and reduce the need for food assistance by providing an additional 3,450,000meals.

Friday, October 3, 2014

A season of "last's"

As I was out with Channel 3 meteorologist Scot Haney in the wee hours of the morning on Tuesday, I was struck by how this would be my last Food Industry Convoy of Caring.

(Of course, it also occurred to me that it won't be my last time spending the wee hours of the morning with Scot or another local media personality, as I will still be at Foodshare through the Thanksgiving season!)

The sense of mixed feelings continued.  Will I be sorry not to have to get up at 3:00 AM for an event like the Convoy of Caring?  Probably not!  Will I miss being part of the amazing community of supporters of Foodshare's mission to end hunger?  Absolutely!

And that was brought home to me by so many people from the food industry who were at our event on Tuesday and stopped to talk to me, congratulate and thank me, and wish me well as I move on.  One in particular touched me, as he slipped me an envelope, which I put in my pocket for later, only to be moved nearly to tears by his beautiful hand-written note and his very generous personal checks.  Yes, checks, plural - he made donations to both Foodshare and to my new organization!

You were all so generous with your thanks and praise, when it's clear to me that what we've accomplished at Foodshare over the years is about all of us working together to create a community where it is unacceptable that anyone go hungry!

And that's why, even though the feelings are mixed, I can move on, knowing that all of you have made Foodshare strong and will continue to do so.  Your passion and dedication to the vision of a hunger-free community will continue to inspire me!

Thank you!

And I hope I get to see you at one of my "last" events between now and the end of the year.


Friday, September 26, 2014


I have been touched beyond words by the outpouring of support and kind words of praise and encouragement since my announcement last Friday that I will be leaving Foodshare at the end of the year to take a new position near where I grew up in northern New York state.  And opening yesterday's Hartford Courant to the editorial page was a real shock!

How often in life does one get to go home again and to take everything you’ve learned and know to help people and a community that you still care deeply about?  My heart has always been in the North Country and this was an opportunity I could not turn down!

While I’m excited about this, as you can imagine, I do leave Foodshare and the Hartford region with mixed feelings!  I will miss so many people in this community tremendously.

But Foodshare is strong, with a great Board of Directors and a committed, hard-working staff and volunteer force, and I know they will carry on the mission and do it well.
I will do my best to respond to all of those messages over the coming weeks and I know that the team here is working on some kind of going away event, so I hope I will see many of you then, if not before!
Thank you for all you have done to support Foodshare's mission to end hunger in the region and for all your support of my efforts here in the Hartford area and for my next steps on life's journey!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Transitions at Foodshare


If you have ever been in my office, you have likely seen this poster prominently displayed over my desk.

The "North Country" of New York is my home, it's where I grew up, where I went to college and where much of my family still lives.  And I need to tell you now that I have accepted a position heading an organization that fights hunger in the North Country.  I will assume the position on January 1, 2015.  I will resign my position at Foodshare as of December 31, 2014.

You can be sure that this was done with very mixed emotions on my part!  

While I leave Foodshare with a great deal of sadness, I know the team we’ve built shares my passion for fighting hunger and ending its causes and will be terrific stewards of this mission.  I am grateful for the community, volunteers and staff support that has helped us grow Foodshare from a tiny, grass-roots organization to one that is currently building our capacity to both feed hungry people and engage in programs to end hunger in the region. I am so proud of the work, the staff and the dedicated volunteers who work every day to end hunger.  All of you will always be like family to me.

The organization I will be heading, GardenShare, has an anti-hunger and food policy mission and serves St. Lawrence County, one of the poorest counties in New  York.  The opportunity to bring my skills and my passion for ending hunger back to the place I still call home was one I could not pass up. 

Foodshare is well positioned for this transition, with a strong staff and Board of Directors, a clear strategic plan, and a succession plan to help the Board and staff through the process.  I will certainly be here to help them with this transition in any way I can over the next few months.
I am very excited about this opportunity and this new chapter in my life, but I will miss all of you - staff, donors, volunteers, and the organizations and people we serve - tremendously.  Thank you for being there for Foodshare and for me over these last thirty years.