The Foodshare Commission of Greater Hartford was started by a small group of volunteers in 1982. Working directly from trucks parked at local churches, these volunteers managed to collect and distribute 63,000 pounds of food that year. Since 1982, the needs of hungry people have grown and so has Foodshare's response. In 1996, Foodshare distributed 4.5 million pounds of food, with a retail value of $10 million, to 200 local groups and organizations. In addition to this tremendous growth in the amount of food distributed to hungry people, Foodhsare has been a leader in outreach and education.
In 1990, Foodshare started a food rescue program. This program picks up leftover prepared food from local hotels, restaurants, caterers and other food service establishments. The program includes more than 100 donors and "rescues" more than 75,000 pounds of food each year.
In 1991, Foodshare started a new food drive called "Food for Families." This effort provides local businesses, churches, synagogues, schools and other organizations with pre-printed boxes or bags for each of their members. The box or bag tells a little about the hunger issues and asks that donors fill it with ingredients to make a complete meal. This drive has improved the quality and quantity of food received because donors put more thought into their donations.
Another food drive that Foodshare is responsible for is "Tons of Tuna and Pounds of Peanut Butter." This drive takes place at elementary schools and is focused on collecting just those two items, while incorporating a variety of tools and curriculum materials to make it both educational and fun for children.
Foodshare has also worked cooperatively with groups that sponsor major food drives, coordinating the "Governor's Care and Share" statewide holiday food drive. Foodshare also developed and implemented two national events devoted to feeding the hungry. Foodshare's annual Thanksgiving Turkey Drive brought in more than 12,000 turkeys in 1996. Their annual "Feed Connecticut Telethon" is the only telethon in the nation in which all of the commercial television stations in a market simultaneously broadcast a fundraising ad. This telethon has raised a tremendous amount of awareness and more than a $500,000 for the food banks in Connecticut.
Foodshare has raised awareness about hunger issues and funds for the hungry people of Connecticut. The organization runs on a budget of less than $1 million, which means for every dollar they spend, $10 worth of food is getting to the hungry.