Foodshare President's Blog

Foodshare President's Blog

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Helping out another organization

Did you know that I started my professional career with the local council of the Boy Scouts of America?  After five years with the Boy Scouts, I left to come to Foodshare when this organization was still in a start-up phase.

But this week, the two worlds came together again...

This picture shows some of the 30 pallets, 27,646 Lbs., 2,216 cases of Popcorn being distributed from the Foodshare facility in Bloomfield to the various Troops who participated in the Scout's semi-annual fundraising sale.

The Connecticut Trails Council asked for assistance and Foodshare came to the rescue. The load was delivered on Thursday, August 21 and distributed Friday the 22nd and Saturday the 23rd. Foodshare supplied the space, some handling equipment, and the labor to move the product around. The Connecticut Trails Council did the rest.
We were happy to help out another nonprofit with this task that was simple for us, but might have been challenging for many.
Good luck with the popcorn sale!

Friday, August 22, 2014


I will be on vacation this coming week until Labor Day.  And while this one will be a "stay-cation," I am still looking forward to some time away from the office and the chance to catch up on some things at home. 

I do hope there is one day warm enough to get to the beach, though, as I have not been all summer!


Thursday, August 21, 2014

August birthdays at Foodshare

Yesterday afternoon, the team at Foodshare gathered to celebrate August birthdays. Pictured are Community Involvement Manager Sarah Santora, Executive Assistant Nina Spineti, and Office Administrator Deb Bickham.  Unfortunately, Food Sourcing Manager Paula Siebers and HR Manager Pam Daly also have August birthdays but could not be with us yesterday.  But don't worry, we saved them some of the ice cream cake!  Happy birthday, all!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Planning and budgeting

I like this quote, which seems to well explain our approach to planning at Foodshare:

"Plans are worthless, but planning is is expected, therefore it is not going to happen the way you are planning.  But if you haven't been planning, you can't start to work, intelligently at least.  That is the reason it is so important to plan, to keep yourselves steeped in the character of the problem you may one day be called upon to solve."
--President Dwight D. Eisenhower, remarks at Natural Defense Executive Reserve Conference, November 1957

Yesterday and today have been devoted to both planning and being steeped in the problem.  Yesterday, Feeding America released the new research report, Hunger in America 2014.  Many of us at Foodshare spent time absorbing the new data, considering how it compared to our own data and experience, and preparing to answer questions about it.

And, all of our managers are in the midst of our annual work planning process, which is actually a three-year rolling process.  We are making plans for 2015 in order to build a draft budget for next year, but we are also expressing what our plans will be for 2016 and 2017 as we move toward our mission of ending hunger and our Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal of closing the meal gap by 2021.

No, not everything will go as we've planned, but because we spend time planning and learning and thinking, we will be prepared for whatever does come and will be able to respond to new challenges as they arise.

Building a strong, successful organization that can meet its mission is not always the "fun and games" of picking up donations or delivering food to people in need.  But building that organization that will be here as long as there is a need is important to all of us at Foodshare, so we take the time to attend to business.

You can help meet our goals by Joining the Movement to Solve Hunger!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Welcoming a visitor

What do food bank CEO's do when they are on vacation?

They visit other food banks! 

Today, Hank Perret, the President & CEO of the Capital Area Food Bank of Texas, located in Austin, stopped in at Foodshare for a tour before heading down to Mystic Seaport.  Both Foodshare and Capital Area Food Bank are part of the Feeding America network of food banks which serve every county in the United States.

Hank has been the food bank CEO for four years, and was involved as a volunteer before that.  He told me that he always learns new things when he visits other food banks.  I agree 100%!  After thirty years of doing this work, I still like touring other food banks because I still learn new things or get to think about things in new ways.

Thanks for stopping by, Hank!

If you are not here in the Hartford region served by Foodshare, you can find your local food bank by going here.

Friday, August 15, 2014

30 years at Foodshare

Today is the 30th anniversary of my first day of work at Foodshare.  The team at Foodshare surprised me with these beautiful flowers and my e-mail inbox has been flooded all day with congratulatory messages from employees, Board members, and volunteers.

I think the congratulations should be turned right back to all of them and all of you.  It's the donors of food and funds, the volunteers, the employees, and the many other supporters who have made possible what we do today. 

Still, I couldn't resist a little trip down memory lane...

Foodshare's first warehouse space was rented in an old building at 2280 Main Street in Hartford.  Looking at this photo, we occupied just a portion of this space in the back corner - about 2,200 square feet.  1982 was the first year of operation and Foodshare distributed 63,000 pounds of food that year.  When I started in 1984, that had grown to 100,000 pounds of food annually.  I was hired to replace the founding Director, Cynthia Good, and was the only employee at the time!

A couple of years later, Foodshare moved to 710 Windsor Street, also in the north end of Hartford, and an expanded 4,000 square feet of space.  This little 8 foot by 10 foot freezer was all the refrigeration of any sort we had at the time.  But you can see that it was packed full, so we were handling perishable product even then.  Fran Laureano started work at Foodshare when we were in this facility and she is still with us today as our Inventory Manager.

By 1988, Foodshare had grown to handling over a million pounds of donated food a year and moved again, to this 9,000 square foot rented warehouse on Pope Park Highway in Hartford's Parkville neighborhood.  (The low building in the front was ours.)  Some of the other staff who still work here were hired in this era, including Chief Operating Officer Christine O'Rourke, Director of Business and Support Services Janice Traczyk, and Driver Danny Welch.

By 1991, Foodshare had reached a distribution level of 2.7 million pounds and moved into what we might consider the "modern era" with the purchase of a 15,000 square foot building on Addison Road in Windsor.  A capital campaign let the organization finally equip this building with adequate refrigeration and freezer capacity.  After settling in the Windsor site, we were also able to open a satellite at the Connecticut Regional Market in Hartford - as a result, today, nearly half of the food we distribute is fresh produce!

By 2004, we had topped 10 million pounds of food distributed annually and so were making plans to expand again.  In December of 2005, Foodshare moved into the current building at 450 Woodland Avenue in Bloomfield.  Within a few years, our growth was stalled, not by a lack of food, but by our facility again and so another expansion was completed in 2013, allowing the organization to distribute a record-setting 14 million pounds of food last year.

And, of course, in addition to distributing more and more food, Foodshare has begun working to connect people with other benefits and to build their self-sufficiency.  If you haven't already done so, I hope you will Join the Movement to Solve Hunger!

It's been an amazing time over these last thirty years and is overwhelming to think what all of us together have accomplished.  As I look ahead, I know for sure that I don't have another thirty years of doing this work in me, but I am committed to building the strongest organization we can.  We need to ensure that Foodshare will be here as long as this work is needed in the community.

On behalf of all of those who have needed a little help over the last thirty years, thank you to each and every one of you for your support.  May we all be here as long as we can doing this work, until it's not needed any more.

Thank you!


Monday, August 11, 2014

Foodshare staff takes a break for a summer outing

On Friday, the team at Foodshare took a break for the afternoon and headed to Wickham Park in Manchester for a staff picnic.  We had a great catered lunch with pulled pork and a vegetarian option and several other fun surprises in store for a little team building!

After lunch, some staff gathered in the pavilion for a friendly game of bingo facilitated by Sarah (in the black hat).
It looks like Keith must have won this round!

Some staff opted for more active endeavors.  Here Steve demonstrates his form at ladder ball.

In the middle of the afternoon, the ice cream truck showed up with a treat for everyone!

A caricature artist did portraits for those who were interested.
Andrece sits for hers.

And yes, I had one done, too.  Here I am with my dog, Petey!

After all off the afternoon's fun, a highlight for me was when I was leaving.  I was about to pull out onto the street, when the guard from the gate came running after my car.  He asked, "Are you Gloria?"  "Yes."  "I wanted to give you a donation."  And he pulled out his wallet and handed me a 20 dollar bill.  Thank you so much for capping off a great day for all of us at Foodshare!