Changing what it means to be a foodbank


Foodshare, the foodbank serving Connecticut’s Hartford and Tolland Counties, has served people struggling with food insecurity for more than 30 years. Distributing, on average, enough food each year for 11.5 million meals, Foodshare is a vital component of the region’s social safety net.

In recent years, the organization has been able to increase its reach, offer more and healthier food, and introduce new outreach services and food distribution methods. This has allowed them to continue to meet increasing need. But this success pointed to a larger question. In addition to serving the need, could they do more to reduce the need or end it altogether?

This sense, that there was another possibility for the future, some larger role they could play, was beginning to take shape, but they weren’t sure how to access it. This led the leadership team to invite Fathom into the conversation.

Collaborating with teams from throughout the organization, we guided a multi-faceted strategic approach that solidified the vision of their new future and established a set of guiding principles and behaviors. This new understanding of themselves provided the underpinnings for the transformational work required to become the new organization they imagined.

The power of the work we did together was reflected back to us by staff members and board members, and was the constant that helped Foodshare manage two executive leadership changes within six months. Because the ideas came from within the organization, based on truths about the organization, the resulting platform was bigger than any one person or leader and even bigger than the organization itself.

What does our future look like?

When you've been successful at something for a long time, why change? For Foodshare, the answer is simple—they see the need for new ideas in the fight against hunger and food insecurity, and recognize that their reputation and experience puts them in a unique position to lead. Through a series of team workshops designed to sidestep preconceived ideas and solutions, we invited the talents and experience of the whole organization and provided the space to imagine and own a new future.


How do we tell our world?

Asking a community that has known you for 30 years to see you in a new light is not for the faint of heart. It takes confidence and patience. We designed Foodshare's new identity system to leave no question about its continued commitment to cause and community, and to be an invitation to others to be a part of what they are building.


How do we spread the word and invite participation?

The Foodshare story needs to answer many questions: What is the issue? Who is at risk? What is the cause? What are the consequences? What are the ways to help? The website brings users into Foodshare's world by allowing them to learn and engage according to their interests and providing opportunities to become part of the support community.


How do we connect with our community?

As a gathering of partners—people and organizations—from across the community, the Foodshare Walk Against Hunger was the ideal setting to publicly launch the organization's new mission and identity. We produced a brand identity video as well as promotional videos for pre- and post-event social media distribution.

What is the experience of Foodshare?

A unique aspect of Foodshare is the vast number of visitors that flow through its facility. Our environment designs create a sense of community for volunteers, donors, board members, and employees as they move through the space, spotlighting the issues at hand and the movement they have joined.

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