From the Field this month features essays from two Connecticut Food Bank and Foodshare staff members who share a glimpse of what resonates for them in their work. Our contributors this month are Sarah Hill and Cristhian Herrera.

Collaborate to Innovate
by Sarah Hill, Community Network Builder

“When you need to innovate, you need collaboration”
Marissa Meyers, American Entrepreneur and CEO

The past 14 months have highlighted the issues that face our society, including food insecurity and economic disparities. It has caused communities to wonder how they can help and how can we get through this stronger than before. Collaboration can bring light to the darkest of times. Collaboration brings people together from across the state or across town to work together instead of working on the same mission independently. Connecticut Food Bank/Foodshare Hunger Action Teams (HATs) bring people together to work on the problem and build connections.

In early 2021, community members and service providers gathered to discuss resources within the East Hartford community. Among the group were representatives of ShopRite and Literacy Volunteers of Greater Hartford. On paper, a connection might not be clear, but at the HAT meeting, they were able to network and find ways to work together.

Literacy Volunteers of Greater Hartford (LVGH) offers a Sodexo Food training program for guests at the free community dinners at New Covenant United Methodist Church in East Hartford. Students in the training program can earn ServSafe Certification. The program provides a supportive environment for individuals to receive free training and career assistance. ShopRite and LVGH teamed up to enhance the program, offering cake-decorating classes for students at ShopRite’s Vernon location. That collaboration and the students’ hard work resulted in one student recently being hired by a local bakery.

ShopRite also generously sells bags at $5 and $10 donation levels to benefit local nonprofit organizations. ShopRite customers purchased more than 100 of these bags to benefit the New Covenant community dinners program.

Hunger Action Teams are innovative collaborators bringing different groups to the table to solve hunger. Time and again we see the difference teamwork makes and our heartfelt thanks go out to our Hunger Action Team members.


Somebody Up There Likes Me
by Cristhian Herrera, Program Coordinator

I know you are probably reading this and thinking about the movie, but I really DO think someone up there likes me, and I am not a particularly religious person. But since I moved from New York, my life has changed so much.

I have been working at the Food Bank for five years, and I’ve met some wonderful people and learned from them. During my first year, my Director asked me to work in the Reclamation Room with the volunteers.  I remembered asking him why, because I had never worked with volunteers in the past.

Back then, I did not realize how much this would help me.  I was able to meet and learn so much from them. In particular, I was able to work with our special needs volunteers and learn from them about awareness and inclusion. A few months later, my wife and I found out that our son was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder.  It was tough at the beginning but later on I realized that I was equipped to start this new journey in life, thanks to my volunteer experience and “this special someone” up there who put me on that path few months before. Yes, somebody up there really likes me!!!