As board chairman of the Greater Boston Food Bank, Woody Bradford of Natick is keenly aware of the daunting statistics of hunger in Massachusetts.
According to the food bank, 1 in 8 residents are at risk of hunger or of lacking reliable access to sufficient affordable, nutritious food. However, Bradford is also sensitive to the issue on a personal level.
Bradford grew up in Auburn, Maine, and his family’s camp on a lake was heated solely by a wood stove; they had running water only in the summer. When he was in elementary school, they would deliver food donations from grocery stores to neighbor JoAnn Pike, whose makeshift pantry in her home evolved into the Good Shepherd Food Bank.
Bradford often volunteered alongside his parents, sorting and handing out food. Occasionally, they brought home a bag of groceries themselves to make ends meet.
“Hunger is right in our backyard, whether it’s in Maine, Massachusetts, or anywhere else,” Bradford said. “It might not be outwardly visible, but the challenge we face remains very significant.”
Bradford, president and CEO of Conning Inc., an asset management firm, became involved with the Greater Boston Food Bank when his then employer, Putnam Investments, contributed to a capital campaign to build a 117,000-square-foot warehouse and distribution center in Boston in 2004. The objective of the organization is to distribute enough food to provide at least one meal a day to those in need.
“Many people who are drawn to the food bank have experienced food insecurity or hunger, or know someone who did,” Bradford noted. “I’m one of those people, and my early work with Greater Boston Food Bank reawakened those experiences.”
Bradford soon began volunteering at the food bank, often accompanied by his two sons. After joining the nonprofit’s board in 2006, he became chairman in 2013.
Bradford is proud that the food bank distributes some 51 million pounds of food and grocery products annually to 550 hunger relief agencies in 190 cities and towns. A graduate of Worcester Polytechnic Institute and Harvard Business School, Bradford said his “humble beginnings” reinforce his dedication to using his strategic and financial expertise to help end hunger in Massachusetts.
“I’ve been very blessed,” he said, “and I’m very proud to be associated with this organization.”
Cindy Cantrell may be reached at email@example.com.