The year was 1999. Bill Clinton was president. The country was in a tizzy about Y2K. Don Moore just wanted a career change.
A former newspaper circulation manager and produce department manager, he was interested in working for an organization with integrity and a purpose. He found that purpose at The Food Bank.
In the nearly two decades since, he has been responsible for much of the nearly 400 million pounds of food The Food Bank has acquired to help people in need.
Moore will retire on Jan. 12 to spend more time with his wife and family. He leaves behind a legacy of building relationships that have allowed The Food Bank to grow and expand.
Moore started at The Food Bank as warehouse manager but soon assumed the dual role of food
solicitor and volunteer coordinator. He says much of his work today stems from efforts he put into the roles during those early years. He established several weekly volunteer groups, for instance, that continue to serve today.
As food solicitor, he familiarized himself with the Feeding America network of food banks, comparing
how many pounds of products each food bank distributed every year.
“I called every food bank on the list and told them if they ever had surplus, we would take it,” he says.
They did, and today, many still call when they have an overabundance of goods to share.
Food solicitation is a balancing act, Moore says. He works to maintain relationships with local grocers and wholesalers while also being mindful of their time and businesses. And while he understands the importance of acquiring healthy food, he has also been willing to accept bulk items other food banks may be quick to dismiss.
Once, when a manufacturer was having a tough time finding anyone to take a truckload of women’s pantyhose that were otherwise headed to a landfill, Moore accepted them, knowing they could be used to dress formally for work or job interviews. On another occasion, he accepted a load of candles, reminding his co-workers that homeless individuals could use them to heat canned foods.
Moore has received plenty of recognition for his work, including being named Feeding America’s food solicitor of the year in 2014. He also once received an award for helping General Mills distribute a snack
cracker when they had an overabundance of the product.
But Moore stresses that the job was never about accolades.
“It’s all about connections,” he says. “And many of the connections I formed 17 years ago has allowed me to do what I do.”
Those relationships are what he says he’ll miss most about The Food Bank.
“I felt like I was able to talk to friends and family all day,” he says, “and get paid for it.”