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Change of venue

After several years of working with Live Journal as my blogging platform, I'm making a transition this week to Blogspot.  If you are a regular reader, I hope you will bookmark and read my blog at its new location... http://foodsharepresident.blogspot.com/

Hope to see you over there!


Holistic approaches to ending hunger

This morning, I attended the MetroHartford Alliance breakfast where Brian Gallagher, the CEO of United Way Worldwide was the keynote speaker.  Brian's primary messages was that, if we are going to solve intractable social problems, we need to build collaborations with business, nonprofit organizations, and government.  No one of these entities can solve a problem like hunger or homelessness on their own.  In addition, he noted that success means engaging people.  Engaging people facing challenges to better understand those challenges and engaging people who can help in meaningful ways.

I left that event and went straight to a meeting of the Windsor Hunger Action Team.  And it occurred to me that we were doing exactly what Brian was talking about.  The twenty people who attended the Hunger Action Team meeting included representatives of various town departments - school food services and social work, public health, social services, and the police department - along with churches, nonprofit organizations, one business person, and community volunteers.  We even talked about how to bring more business people to the table.

I agree with Brian Gallagher that these kinds of collaborations have the capacity to end hunger and am excited about working with this group.

Ending hunger takes more than food

Three Angels Community Services, a program of the Faith Seventh Day Adventist Church in Hartford, was recently able to purchase a truck which will be used to pick up and deliver donations of food, furniture, and other items for their ministries with low-income Hartford families.

The church had raised money for the truck, but Foodshare was happy to be able help out with a small amount from our Partnership Program, which helps local food pantries and community kitchens acquire the equipment they need to accomplish their important work of feeding hungry people and working toward an end to poverty.

Clifford Sharp, volunteer leader of Three Angels Community Services, is clearly quite happy with his truck!

Otis Interns Volunteer at Foodshare

An e-mail that came in today from one of the volunteer groups at Foodshare's Hartford facility:

On behalf of all the interns and myself, I would like to thank you again for helping put together the FOODSHARE event earlier this afternoon.  We spent two hours bagging onions, zucchini, and squash and had a great time doing so.  The people at FOODSHARE were very friendly and made our experience at the warehouse entertaining and most importantly worthwhile.

When planning the event, we wanted to work with an organization that would have the greatest impact on our local community.  I think we successfully utilized our small amount of time to have the greatest impact possible, and have you to thank.

Thank you again,

National Accounts Intern


Otis Elevator Company

Giving back

Today, I visited the Mobile Foodshare site at the United Methodist Church on Farmington Avenue in Hartford, where they were distributing sweet potatoes, pineapples, carrots, and fresh sweet peppers.  The wonderful group of volunteers at the church told me and State Representative Matt Ritter who stopped by, that they sometimes serve as many at 300 people.

The highlight of the visit for me, though, was when a lady came up to me and asked if I was Gloria.  She told me that her name is also Gloria, that she is retired and that the food from the truck has been a great help to her.  She said that she tries to send in small donation to Foodshare whenever she can to support this work, not only for herself, but for so many other people in need in the community.  She told me that she felt like she knew me from reading my letters and our newsletters over the years.

This kind of thing happens so often - people who are receiving food wanting to give something back and volunteering or offering a small donation.  Call me naive, but over the years, I've become convinced that this kind of thing happens much more often than any kind of fraud or abuse of the system!

I visited two Mobile Foodshare sites today, one at First Church of Christ in Glastonbury and one at St. John's Episcopal Church in East Hartford.  Both sites served over 100 households and distributed lettuce, carrots, cucumbers, onions, sweet potatoes, and oranges.

As we were winding down the East Hartford site, one of the volunteers came to talk to me.  Turns out we were neighbors when I lived in East Hartford a number of years ago.  She told me that her husband is totally disabled, including being blind.  Over the years, as his health deteriorated and he could no longer work, they struggled to survive.  She said that their health insurance cost them $1,100 per month and that she spent every penny of their savings and was in danger of losing their home before he started receiving disability benefits.

During this period of struggle, the Town of East Hartford Social Services office referred her to Mobile Foodshare.  She told me that she did not know how she and her husband would have survived if they had not received this help with food.  And now she volunteers a couple of times a week at Mobile Foodshare sites in East Hartford and Hartford as a way to pay it back!

All I could say was, "thank you!"  Thank you for sharing your story and thank you for volunteering at Mobile Foodshare.


UConn is hosting 40 college student leaders from West and North Africa taking part in two Study of the U.S. Institutes (SUSI) for Student Leaders on Social Entrepreneurship. The purpose of these institutes is to promote a better understanding of the U.S. abroad and help to develop future world leaders through exploring the principles of democracy and fundamental American values such as individual rights, freedom of expression, pluralism and tolerance, and volunteerism.

The student leaders participated in Hunger 101, a role playing simulations of the challenges people face putting food on the table. Many of the participants were surprised so many obstacles exist in getting basic aid. The group also is weeding and helping out at the 4-H Foodshare garden at Auer Farm in Bloomfield and sorting produce at the regional market. We are grateful for taking time out of their intense schedule to lend a hand and make a difference. 

Krista Ostaszewski, Foodshare's SNAP Outreach Coordinator, sent me this e-mail today...

I recently received an email from a SNAP recipient thanking us for helping her apply for the program. She has been receiving the  SNAP benefit for a little over a year now, and wanted to share how SNAP has allowed her to eat healthier.

After listing a few of the fruits and veggies she is able to now keep in her fridge, she wrote, “I felt proud to take better care of myself.”

The email ended with the woman explaining, “About a year now on SNAP and my buying habits have improved!”

SNAP is a nutrition assistance program that is available to help keep healthy foods within reach for those in need.  Emails like this one are proof that SNAP not only helps families afford food, but also helps families eat well and stay healthy!

Local advocacy efforts

Flo's Friendship Kitchen, a part of SafeNet Ministries in Stafford, recently invited State Representative Penny Bacchiochi to visit the kitchen on a Friday when they were serving the meal.  These visits are important, for sometimes our elected officials don't understand the scope of the hunger problem in the areas that they represent.  The volunteers at Flo's Friendship Kitchen explained to Representative Bacchiochi how the kitchen operates, where the food and funds come from, and that there all volunteer staff is trying to reach more Stafford residents who may benefit from this service.

Representative Bacchiochi offered some good suggestions back to them:

  • She encouraged them to do fund drives rather than food drives since they can get more food by using their funds to cover handling fees at Foodshare.
  • She suggested that they recruit a volunteer whose specific job is publicity and advertising.
  • And, she suggested a special Friday meal with local politicians and business leaders as the servers.
In the current economy, the only way to meet all of the needs will be by building public (government) and private (nonprofit organizations) partnerships.  Great work, SafeNet Ministries, in taking steps to do this!

WineFest to Benefit Foodshare...

The Bloomfield Rotary will be holding its second annual wine tasting event to benefit Foodshare and the Bloomfield Rotary Foundation.   

The event to be held at Duncaster on Friday, July 8th at 6 PM will be hosted by Brad Davis and Jerry Kristafer from WDRC, and Scot Haney from WFSB.  Tickets are only $40.  There will be pasta stations and carving stations as well as beer and wine, all included in the ticket price. There will also be a raffle with lots of wonderful prizes and a silent auction.

It’s a great opportunity to have a wonderful night out at a beautiful location.  Please support Foodshare by attending this fun event!  To purchase tickets or for more information, click here. And contact Deb Robertson with additional questions.