Saturday, April 19, 2014

Passover and Easter greetings

I received this e-mail recently from a woman who relies on the Mobile Foodshare site on Fern Street in West Hartford:

"I wish I could do so much more to help, but right now my main focus in life is my health and getting back on my feet the way I was before I became so ill with my illness, but  when I go to the church on Fern Street. I try to make everyone feel like the person that they are, because so many that are there look down on themselves for having to be there, and no one should ever be made to feel that way, I have heard, seen and talked to a lot of people who go to this site and I think I can honestly say that when I am there, I feel a touch of love from so many because I share my story, my life and they embrace the moment and they all know, that they are loved, especially by me, I never judge anyone, its not right...Blessings to you on this our Passover and Easter holiday...God be with everyone..."

Friday, April 18, 2014

Check Out Hunger

Wakefern (Shop Rite and Price Rite) raised $957,261.30 in donations as part of their Check out Hunger Campaign.

The four Price Rites and seven Shop Rites in our area brought in $36,150  which will benefit Foodshare.

Price Rite of New Britain continues to fully embrace this program- this year they raised almost $12,000 putting them in the TOP THREE of all Price Rites in the country.

A huge THANK YOU to the wonderful owners, staff and customers of Shop Rite and Price Rite for making this such a successful fundraiser year after year!

Earth Day fundraiser coming up on Tuesday

Thursday, April 17, 2014


Participation in SNAP continues to drop, new USDA preliminary data show.  About 240,000 fewer people received SNAP benefits in January 2014 than in December 2013, and about 1.2 million fewer people participated than in January 2013. SNAP spending has also fallen, due to both declining participation and the November 2013 expiration of the 2009 Recovery Act’s temporary boost in SNAP benefits. SNAP spending on benefits in January 2014 was about 9% lower than in January 2013.  

In Connecticut, however, participation increased during both measured periods—up 0.4% from December 2013 to January 2014, and 2.9% over the full year.  As of January 2014, 438,848 people were receiving SNAP benefits in Connecticut. Spending on benefits here rose 0.3% from December to January, but fell 1.6% from the previous January.

Source: Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, 4/10/17, SNAP Falling

Introducing our Director of Development

Name: Wendy Kohn

Your role at Foodshare: Director of Development.  I lead the fundraising team, and we raise the money to make sure Foodshare can provide 12 million meals to people in need, and operate all of the great programs we have in place to help people get back on their feet.

How long have you been with Foodshare? Almost a year

Hobbies: gardening, filmmaking, roller derby, working on the house/farm, reading… many more things than I have time for!

Why I do what I do: to do my small part in making the world a bit better for everyone

Most recent accomplishment: getting up in the morning (I am most definitely NOT a morning person)

A personal/professional goal: I want to live in more places in the world. There are so many things to see and experience, and traveling gives you an amazing perspective on your own culture and ideas. It’s humbling and fascinating.

Something about me that few people know: I created a documentary film about domesticating African elephants, filmed in Zimbabwe.

If you were an animal what kind would you be?  Why? It would be incredible to experience being an elephant. Their society and family structure is complex and deep, and I would love to know how they think and what they feel about the strange naked ape that has influenced so much of the planet. Or what would it be like to be an earthworm? What do they feel, and do they have what would seem like “thoughts” to us? Or maybe a bird… wouldn’t it be cool to just be able to launch yourself into the air and see things from a totally new perspective? Or how about…. OK, I’ll stop now.

If you found out you only had a few months to live, what would you do with the time? I would spend time with family and friends (both two and four-legged), in the outdoors, on our farm, enjoying the time I have.

Anne Frank once said that in spite of everything, she believed people were basically good. Do you agree or disagree? Why? I think people are basically good, and I look for the good in everyone. My dad taught me that. I’ve met a few bad people in my life, but if you treat everyone as if they are one of the good ones, in the end, they turn out to be just that.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Promoting the Walk Against Hunger

Foodshare staff is nothing if not innovative and creative!  Jill sent me this message and photo today:

"Since our neighborhood is full of walkers in every season of the year, it seemed to make sense to put up a sign and a box for flyers on this tree in our front yard…..every lap they make around the neighborhood is another opportunity for them to read the poster, be reminded of the event and hopefully participate!!"

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Paradigm shifts

I've been out of the office more than in these last two weeks, attending a Feeding America meeting and a training session provided by Bank of America.  Time away is good, time to connect with others doing this work, time to think about who we are and where we're going, and time to consider the other big questions attached to our mission of ending hunger.

I was particularly struck by a comment made by my friend John Becker, CEO of the Food Bank of Northeast Georgia, in Athens, Georgia.  He was talking about the need to ask more questions and how that might result in a paradigm shift.  His example as about going to a food pantry and asking the question, "Why all the canned goods?"  The pantry volunteers replied, "Because that's what these people want - they don't know how to use fresh food."

So, he went outside and asked the clients lined up at the food pantry, "Why all the canned goods?"  And they said, "Because that's all they give us here."

At Foodshare, we have certainly demonstrated this paradigm shift over the last dozen years.  Today, fully half of the food that Foodshare distributes is fresh produce, and a signficant additional percentage is other fresh and perishable foods.  Low-income people do want this food, they do know how to use it, we just had to find a way to get it to them, which happens largely through the Mobile Foodshare program.

Where else do we need a paradigm shift?
  • Why is the pantry only open two hours in the middle of weekday?  With more and more working poor people needing help with food, and more and more working people wanting meaningful volunteer opportunities, wouldn't some evening or weekend hours make sense?
  • And, you know, why does Foodshare not have more evening and weekend hours for those people who want to volunteer and cannot come during a weekday?
  • Why does my church (or synagogue or school or workplace) run a canned food drive?  Are there better ways to attack this problem?
  • Why are so many people who are eligible for federal food assistance like SNAP, free school breakfast, or summer food for children not receiving these benefits?  What can we do about it?
  • Why are there so few grocery stores in low-income neighborhoods?  Should we try to open more stores or should we design transportation systems to get people to the stores with good selection and prices?
What other questions do we need to ask?  Where else might we need a paradigm shift?  Feel free to e-mail me your thoughts at!