Part of HYPE’s mission is to help young professionals become better engaged in community life, expand professional and social opportunities, and become ambassadors for the Hartford Region. HYPE encourages cross-collaboration among agencies and organizations that offer opportunities to volunteer in the community. The Community Conversations series focuses on interviewing professionals in a local nonprofit to bring awareness to their mission, highlight their impact in the community, and to provide information on how to get more involved with the organization. For the June edition, HYPEster and Community Involvement Committee Vice Chair Amanda Trothier interviewed Diana Goode and Al Marino of Foodshare.
What is the mission of your organization?
Each year Foodshare strives to solve the invisible problem of hunger. Being one of two Connecticut food banks, Foodshare collects and distributes over 13.8 million pounds of food annually through their network of over 300 partner programs including food pantries, community kitchens, and homeless shelters in Hartford and Tolland counties. These efforts give Foodshare the ability to assist over 127,000 individuals who don’t know where their next meal will come from, 36,000 of whom are children.
What is your role within the organization?
Diana Goode has worked for agencies such as Operation Fuel and Gifts of Love. She has led a career in the nonprofit industry because there was a time in her life where she could have been a food pantry recipient rather than in a leadership role within an agency. “Hunger is my thing,” says Diana, an extremely passionate individual working tirelessly to increase donations of both food and money for the organization as the Vice President of Development.
Al Marino worked in the food industry his entire life, beginning in a family-owned meat packing business, where he learned the importance of business relationships. After a lengthy career in the food business, he started down a new path with a second career. It was through the Encore Hartford program tied to UConn that Al learned about the nonprofit structure and became invested as a volunteer and intern in both Hartford Food System as well as Foodshare. Al is now the Fundraising Events Specialist at Foodshare working on two major annual events each year, in addition to all the collaborative events hosted by outside agencies and developing corporate partnerships.
How do you implement your programs or services?
Foodshare realized that the problem of hunger wasn’t a simple fix and that many of those being served would come back day after day, or year after year. A strategy was crafted to bridge the gap between what is needed and the capacity of Foodshare. Hunger Action Teams (HATs) have been formed, to not only increase the amount of food available, but to provide resources to improve the lives of those served. This could be connecting families to childcare, providing resources for job training, or assisting with securing stable housing. These community networks consist of various stakeholders within the region, who bring varying perspectives to the group.
In what ways has your organization been impactful to your cause?
This “passionate, incredible blend of people with diverse backgrounds”, forming the Foodshare family over the years has worked tirelessly to create better avenues for food distribution. It was realized that families in need of food can’t always find transportation to distribution centers. Foodshare, with assistance from partners, created a mobile food truck system which now delivers to about 70 sites biweekly. Not only did they distribute 13.8 million pounds of food in 2016 but 5 million pounds of that was fresh produce. 76% of all food items distributed by Foodshare is considered healthy and nutritious. They are a leader in making sure that our neighbors don’t go hungry, and that they find the resources needed to live fruitful lives.
How does someone get more involved?
Foodshare could not distribute the millions of pounds of food without the hard work and dedication from volunteers, which at last count numbered over 4,700 people. Roles include sorting food donations, retail pickup, assisting at regional markets, being an ambassador, and helping with the annual events such as Walk Against Hunger and A Turkey and Thirty. To learn more about how to become a volunteer, check the volunteer hub or contact Edna Bailey, Volunteer Coordinator by email at or 860-286-9999 x126.