Foodshare President's Blog

Foodshare President's Blog

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.

"Help Bag Hunger" at ShopRite stores

As part of Hunger Action Month, ShopRite stores are raising money to support food banks in the areas where they have stores.  This week and next, several stores here in the Hartford area are having "Help Bag Hunger" events where local politicians and other celebrities bag groceries for a time and talk to the customers about the issue of hunger.

Wednesday, I was at the Bristol ShopRite, bagging groceries on the line next to where Mayor Ken Cockayne was bagging.  People who came through my line looked over there and whispered, "Is that the Mayor?"  And many of them made a donation right at the register.  Read about it in the Bristol Press.

Then yesterday, it was off to the West Hartford ShopRite for an hour of bagging groceries.  Even with all of my experience it was hard to keep up with the big orders!  One lady who came through my line made our day when she told us that she had come into the store feeling down about things going on in her life, but upon hearing that we were there raising money for Foodshare, she not only felt better about her own situation, but she made a $100 donation right at the register.

But once again, my being there to bag groceries was not the highlight of the day for tose lucky shoppers who came through at that time! 

Channel 3 meteorologist Scot Haney was also helping customers with the their groceries!  Though from the photo below, it appears he may have needed a helper in order to keep up!

Look for me Tuesday evening from 6:00 to 7:00 at the Enfield ShopRite.

To learn more about how you can get involved with Hunger Action Month go here.  And remember, if you shop at ShopRite, you can make a donation right at the register all month.


Tuesday, September 16, 2014

A different perspective on the SNAP Challenge

While Foodshare is encouraging people to take the SNAP Challenge this week as part of Hunger Action Month and live on a SNAP budget of $4.15 per day for food, I received this anonymous note from someone who lives it every day:

I realize it is very different from most blogs on the SNAP challenge. My situation is much better than most going through a bump in the road, presently I have cut out any and all unnecessary expenditures; this is not a complaint. I have been in a far worst situation, this shall pass. My total allotment for the SNAP Challenge is less than $30 for a week. My actual budget is $20 a week. I have friend at home who supplements my meals as I share with him. We do not combine budgets.

I “stockpile” food when it is available. Pasta and tuna are bought in quantity whenever they are on sale and I can fit them into my budget. Bean are the usual protein. Throughout the year, the same applies to everything else. People on strict budgets do purchase more pasta and rice because it’s inexpensive and fills your belly. I take full advantage of the kindness of coworkers and friends with their garden overages, and when things are not available I go without.

I have found odd combinations taste great. Pasta and peanut butter in my mind are Sesame Noodles. Ketchup from the Dollar Store is fine, as are spices. A can of Hunt’s tomato sauce is not all that bad. Laundry detergents clean your clothes whether it says Sun or Tide on the bottle. And I laugh at myself when I realize I do prioritize good shampoo over food. But I do not get my nails done!  

Big Y was having a Buy 1 Get 2 free deal on eggs – yahoo, protein!

I went through the line twice to get 6 dozen eggs, which cost me $5.00, and returned Wednesday night for another 6 dozen. Total protein for the week is $10. The fridge looks like a hatchery! This is my lunch for the week – 6 eggs a day with any produce I can fit in.

Both breakfast and supper are a soup/tea consisting of any combination of fruits and vegetables available. Oranges, onions, apples, tomatoes, peppers, ginger, beet greens, spinach, and carrots simmered together are on the menu this week. These nutritious meals are provided to me by my friend, and I in turn share the eggs.

I visited Family Dollar Sunday as well, gathering necessary personal care items. Soap, shampoo, toothpaste, laundry detergent and toilet paper added up to $10. 

I drink instant coffee (Walmart, $4.00 jar lasts 2 plus months) one cup in the morning. With sugar from Walmart, 2 pounds for $1.00, which lasts me at least 2 months.

And that is my menu on a daily basis. When the gardens stop producing for the winter, I will eat the vegetables I have frozen, then go to the back of the store for the bruised items sold at a reduced cost. When eggs go back up in price, the number will decrease or the protein will be eliminated. Tuna is available occasionally for less than one dollar and I stock up if possible at that time. I do splurge and allow myself the luxury of half & half with my coffee in the morning. It makes the taste of instant seem like I’m having “real” coffee.  The donuts and goodies that appear on the kitchen table at work do indeed become part of my diet, in moderation. Eating on a strict budget can be done, it just takes imagination and dedication. I will admit I am not looking forward to heating season, thankfully I burn wood and am working on my woodpile. Cutting and stacking wood makes a gym workout unnecessary – and provide a little extra money to perhaps buy a chicken for several days of homemade soup made on the stove – yum!

Will you consider joining the SNAP Challenge to just get a feel for what this might be like?  Go here to learn more and here to sign up.

Monday, September 15, 2014

SNAP challenge week

One of the Hunger Action Month activities we are encouraging people to take part in is the SNAP Challenge - living on a SNAP budget of $4.15 per day for food.  You can do this for a day, a week, or the whole month, but this week is the one we've focused on for the challenge.
Foodshare Community Network Builder Beatrice Maslowski started her 7-Day SNAP Challenge on Friday and here's what she had to say about it:
"Foodshare staffers Alicia Flynn and Jennifer Johnson provided great advice in advance of Hunger Action Month on how to manage the dollars and where to shop.  The project manager in me sat down and developed a shopping list and recipes in advance and began checking food prices, as well as deciding that I was going to have to give up coffee!  I was delighted to find water packed solid white tuna on sale for 96 cents per can so I bought 7 cans to ensure I had a protein source.  I found 4 very nice apples in the produce mark-down section of the store for 97 cents.  Breakfast is yogurt with a banana.  Lunch is a can of tuna.  Dinner is a combination of black beans that I cooked with turkey bacon and chicken broth, along with whole grain brown rice. 
"It was cold out this morning which made me miss my XL morning coffee even more.  Over the years I have been on every diet imaginable, so I know what it is like to feel hungry (by choice), but what I have never experienced is having limited financial resources to buy my food.  Right now I have $2.52 remaining from my $29.00 weekly budget."

Please consider taking the SNAP Challenge as part of Hunger Action Month!  If you are doing the challenge, sign up here and share your thoughts and reactions with me.

Immediate volunteer needs

Foodshare's Current Volunteer Needs!

Regional Market – Hartford

Foodshare’s facility at the regional market receives as much as 6.5 million pounds of fresh produce each year, and volunteers are needed to help inspect and repackage these vegetables for distribution.  We’re looking for individual volunteers to help on Tuesdays from 8:30 AM – 12:00 PM and 1:00 PM – 3:00 PM.  Please contact Edna at


Mobile Foodshare

Mobile Foodshare is an outdoor food distribution for persons of low income. The food choices vary from week to week but usually include bread and several types of fresh produce.  One volunteer rides with a Foodshare driver and assists in distribution.  We’re in need of 2-3 volunteers to be “on call” to help fill in for our regular volunteers.


There are many other ways to volunteer with Foodshare.  Please click here to learn more about individual and group volunteer opportunities.

Friday, September 12, 2014

The anniversary continues...

As you may remember, August 15 marked the 30th anniversary of my first day of work at Foodshare.

But Foodshare's Board of Directors does not meet in August, so they continued the anniversary celebration at yesterday's Board meeting.

Board Chair Leslie Soler presented an official statement from Governor Dannel Malloy recognizing my 30 years of service.

And they presented me with this poster board sized "card" signed by many Foodshare staff, volunteers, and Board members.

Thank you all for your kind words and good wishes!  As I keep saying, what we've accomplished at Foodshare over the last 30 years is about all of you - I could not have done it alone!  So thank you for all you have contributed to the vision of solving hunger in our community!


Thursday, September 11, 2014

Whose job is it to raise money for an organization?

Some people would answer this question by saying it's the Board of Directors job to raise money.  Others would say it's the CEO and still others would say the development staff.

In an interesting blog post on, Gail Perry says that it is everyone's job. 

The key reason that fundraising is everyone's job?  Another word for fundraising is "friend-raising."  Successful fundraising is about building relationships with donors and engaging them in the organization's mission.

This great graphic from Gail Perry's blog post says it quite simply:  asking for a gift is only a small part of the process of fundraising!

We need to identify people who might be interested, then educate them about the organization and the mission.  And, even more important than asking for a gift is thanking the donors after the gift and continuing the engagement process!

Every member of the Board of Directors, every person who serves on the staff, and every volunteer can help with some of these tasks, even if they are not comfortable asking for a donation!

Earlier today, at the meeting of Foodshare's Board of Directors, we presented them with a sort of "Fundraising Bootcamp."  We wanted them to understand some of the data and research around fundraising and to better understand Foodshare's development program and how they can help.

For example, have you ever seen this chart before? 

Yes, individuals give by far the largest amount of charitable gifts in this country.  When you consider that bequests are really from individuals and some portion of the foundation gifts are from family foundations, individuals make up more than 80% of the dollars donated to charity each year.

More than 95% of US households give to charity and the average gift is about 3% of the households total annual income.

Where are people giving those gifts?

That may surprise you also.

The largest amount of charitable gifts goes to religious organizations and the next largest amount goes to educational institutions.

Human services programs, like Foodshare, come in third with gifts to foundations and health charities close behind.

What's the bottom line of all these conversations at Foodshare?

Just as Gail Perry said in her blog post, we all have a role to play in fundraising.

How can you help, no matter what your role is at Foodshare?
  • You can make your own gift and invite others to join you in giving.
  • You can tell people about Foodshare - its mission and work and your experiences here.
  • You can help thank donors by writing notes, making phone calls, sending personal e-mails, or even with social media messages.
  • You can go with a member of our fundraising team to tell prospective donors your own story and your involvement with Foodshare.
  • You can offer your good ideas and suggestions for how we can do things better.
Whether you are on the Board or the staff or a volunteer in Bloomfield, Hartford, or out in the community, I hope you will consider how you can help us raise the funds that will allow us to move Foodshare's mission and programs forward!

Thank you!