Company: The Greater Boston Food Bank (GBFB)
Name: Jonathan Tetrault
Tell us about your company and what you do: The Greater Boston Food Bank is the largest hunger-relief organization in New England and among the largest food banks in the country. Last year, we distributed 68.5 million pounds of nutritious food to people who struggle to have enough to eat. We are committed to increasing our food distribution to provide three meals a day to every person in need in Eastern Massachusetts while supporting healthy lives and healthy communities. Our goal is to create a Hunger Free Eastern Massachusetts by 2028. It will take the support of our partners like UWOTC to get there. Our progress toward this goal is documented by town on our interactive map.
What is your role there? As Vice President of Distribution Services I oversee the strategy for closing the meal gap in each of the 190 cities and towns in our service area through robust partnerships with local service providers.
What issues are important to your organization? At GBFB, we care deeply about our neighbors struggling with food insecurity. We exist to support a network of over 550 partner agencies feeding their communities. We also value the nutritional quality of the food we distribute and do not focus simply on calories. Last year over 33% of our distribution volume was fresh produce and 65% was produce, protein or dairy items.
Why is it important for your organization to give back? We are only as strong as our network of hunger-relief agencies doing the on-the-ground work of getting food into the hands of people in need. Service is important for GBFB to give back as it is central to our mission of ending hunger in Eastern Massachusetts.
How long have you been partnering with UWOTC? GBFB has been partnering with UWOTC since 2011 when we began providing food for their food pantry and meal programs. We expanded that partnership in 2013 when opening the MetroWest cross dock at the United Way Distribution Services warehouse to serve all the agencies in the MetroWest region by making more food available in the area.
Why does your company choose to support our communities through this partnership? GBFB chooses to support MetroWest communities through our UWOTC partnership because collectively we can accomplish more. By leveraging GBFB’s food sourcing, warehousing and transportation prowess with UWOTC’s local warehouse and staff, we are able to distribute thousands of pounds of food to area pantries each week.
What things does your company do to support our community through this partnership? In the last fiscal year, GBFB shipped 1.7 million pounds of nutritious food to MetroWest partners through the cross dock (MetroWest Food Hub) generously hosted and made possible by UWOTC. This is healthy food that is helping our children thrive in school, parents to focus at work, and our elders to get the critical nutrition they need in their later years. Through our partnership with the UWOTC, we support the most basic of needs within our community.
What are the advantages of partnering with UWOTC? The advantage of partnering with UWOTC is the local expertise they provide on the needs in the community and the connections with local businesses and volunteers that they bring to the table to help feed our neighbors.
If employees are allowed to use work time for volunteering, how does that work? Annually, GBFB creates a volunteer week schedule during which team members are encouraged to sign up for volunteer shifts at our partner agency locations. GBFB employees visit our partner agencies in small groups to stock shelves, distribute food, or serve meals. This provides needed labor for our food distribution partners and creates opportunity for team members to remain grounded in the work that GBFB does by giving back to their community.
What would you say about us to other companies looking to get involved in the community? I would tell other companies that UWOTC is a time tested regional leader with a track record for positively impacting the lives of those living in the MetroWest region. If they are looking for a partner to make a positive impact together, they need look no further.
Do you have any other comments you would like to add? Here's a story about a local agency, the Natick Service Council that gets food from the UWOTC cross dock (MetroWest Food Hub).