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Network Profile: Helen Costello

Helen CostelloHelen “HC” Costello is the Program Manager at the New Hampshire Food Bank, a distributor and supplier to hunger relief agencies serving food insecure community members. In 2014, the New Hampshire Food Bank distributed over 11 million pounds of non-perishable food items, fresh produce, and meats to more than 400 non-profit food agencies in all corners of that state. HC leads the Recipe for Success Department which consists of five programs: culinary job training, Cooking Matters, a production garden, SNAP Outreach and the NH Nutrition Incentives Network. In addition to her work at the Food Bank, HC is passionate about nutrition and wellness. A Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, HC owned a private agriculture, food and nutrition consulting business for over 10 years prior to joining the Food Bank.

What inspires you in your work? 

I run several programs where we work directly with people who are food insecure. We can see direct impact from our work, both at the individual level and on a statewide scale, and that inspires me everyday.

What keeps you up at night?

I feel really good about what we do here. I sleep well because of the work that we do. What keeps me up is that there is so much more to do, and such little resources to do it. A lot of us that are working hard at it don’t have enough resources to reach everyone we would like to. Program work relies on a lot of resources and a lot of volunteer and in-kind work. Congress expects charities to pick up more than their share of the load. Funding cuts and overbearing regulation create barriers to accessibility of the federal nutrition assistance programs. We need stronger advocacy and public policy that will address food insecurity.

What do you see as your personal role in regional food system transformation?

I see my role as an advocate for food and economic justice for vulnerable populations, but not limited to food and nutrition. Advocacy at the local, state, and national levels. We need to ensure that we’re reaching these populations to provide opportunities at the local and statewide levels.