Now in its 40th year of service, the Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia and the Eastern Shore remains committed to ending hunger today for the people we serve. Over the past four decades, our organization has evolved and launched innovative ways to meet the needs of our community. The way we serve today may look different than the way we served then, but the vision of a hunger-free community remains the same.
The Foodbank’s first executive director, Cindy Creed, looks back with us to share the organization’s beginnings.
Executive Director, 1981–2001
Most significant milestones: It was an exciting time starting something new. We were the first or second food bank in Virginia. It was a brand new theory that we could help people that way.
Most difficult challenges you faced? Having enough storage was a problem. We moved several times during the first few years and needed to raise money for buildings. The newness made it exciting, and the newness made us tired, but the newness never made us not want to go to work the next day.
What misconceptions related to hunger existed then? There was some thought of, if people just worked harder, they wouldn’t be in this situation. It was tricky sometimes to convince people that there were real pockets of need and of no fault to the individuals that were in need.
What changes impacted the organization’s evolution in addressing food insecurity? Having a network that was beginning to become nationwide was important because we had a voice out of a national office that was clear and could address things in different localities.
What were your greatest sources of food and fund contributions? The idea of a food bank was embraced readily by the local grocers. We got surplus food from the government. TEFAP was a big deal. Radio and TV were big since we had a couple drives a year. A lot of the very first members or Partner Agencies of the Foodbank were churches that were doing soup kitchens. Taste of Hampton Roads events got restaurants involved. We were getting donations through individuals, organizations and churches. There were lots of relationships being made.