Community Food Share serves 40,000 annually in Boulder and Broomfield counties.

Jesse Noller experienced food insecurity in his youth. It’s what’s driven him to be a volunteer and ongoing contributor to Community Food Share.

Noller, 41, is an engineer and budding entrepreneur who recently started the The Humble Fungus, a “spore-to-table” mushroom growing business in Broomfield.

He still recalls from his childhood what the lunch trays at the Syracuse YMCA looked like, trays that often delivered him a free, much-needed meal.

“Community Food Share is near and dear to my heart,” Noller said. “When you see families, mothers and children face to face, you can see the light glimmer in their eyes when they see fresh food.”

Community Food Share serves 40,000 people — seniors, children, parents, students and individuals — in Boulder and Broomfield counties annually with an onsite food pantry and through mobile pantries. Daily, Community Food Share rescues 13 tons of food that otherwise would go to waste and instead feeds community members who are battling food insecurity.

Noller has grown food gardens and donated the harvest to Community Food Share, like others do. Now he’s gearing up to make fresh, local mushrooms a part of the everyday food supply for Community Food Share clients — his neighbors.

“It’s this amazing intersection of being able to help people and taking science to the next level,” Noller said.

In the near future, Noller plans to teach complimentary mushroom growing classes to Community Food Share clients, and students will be able to grow the fungi — a rich, low-calorie source of protein, fiber and antioxidants — at home in five-gallon buckets and cultivate a sustainable food source.

“The sky is the limit,” Noller said.

Food donors, financial donors, volunteers, staff, partner agencies and community collaborators all play a continuing role in bringing fresh, nutritious food to Community Food Share.

No mushroom from The Humble Fungus will go to waste, Noller said. Mushrooms not sold to customers or at farmers markets will be donated to the local food bank. Community Food Share staff and supporters applaud Noller’s dedication, vision and effort.

“Jesse has a very personal connection to our mission, because he has experienced hunger firsthand,” said Julia McGee, director of communications with Community Food Share. “It has been inspiring to see how, over time, he has evolved his role as a Community Food Share supporter to embody his talent and his passions: he started as a consistent volunteer and soon used his knack for gardening to grow fresh, local produce for our programs. Even now, as an entrepreneur, giving back is a foundational value in his new business — we applaud that, and we’re grateful to be on the receiving end of his generosity.”

Community Food Share

Address: 650 S. Taylor Ave., Louisville, CO 80027

In operation since: 1981

Number of employees: 34 full-time, 3 part-time, 1,300 volunteers

Annual budget: $2.5-$2.6 million

Percentage that goes directly to client services: 95%

Number of clients served in 2020: More than 40,000

Every fall, Community Food Share hosts the Let’s Bag Hunger Fund & Food Drive, an event that stocks the shelves of more than 40 food pantries and meal programs throughout Boulder and Broomfield counties. This year’s event is scheduled Nov. 5 to 7.

“Produce is always a priority at Community Food Share, so we provide it to our partners and participants year-round,” McGee said. “Summer and fall are a special time, however, because we’re able to distribute so many fruits and vegetables that are grown right down the road.”

Noller said he’s thrilled about the prospect of supplying mushrooms to Community Food Share year-round.

“There’s no better thing for me to do than something like this,” he said. “This is really special to me. If we can do a positive thing every day for our local community, we can help build the community.”

Volunteers, donors and partners are all essential and appreciated, McGee said. They, too, receive when they give.

“The magic around a community and its food bank is that the relationship is multi-directional: corporate partners, donors and volunteers like Jesse make our work possible and, at the same time, we’re empowering them to do good,” she said.

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