Bill Bolling served as executive director of the Atlanta Community Food Bank since founding the organization in 1979 until June 2015. Over the span of 36 years, he led the Food Bank's distribution of more than half a billion pounds of food and grocery products through a network of more than 600 local and regional partner nonprofit organizations that feed the hungry across 29 Georgia counties. As a charter member of Feeding America, the national network of food banks, Bill was instrumental in the start-up of food banks across the country. He is a frequent speaker on topics related to hunger, poverty, regionalism, affordable housing and public policy reform. His skills in bridging various public sectors have made him a leader in strengthening the community to serve those most in need. Prior to his association with ACFB, he served as director of community ministries for St. Luke's Episcopal Church in Atlanta. Georgia Trend Magazine named Bill their 2012 Georgian of the Year, and in January 2015, he joined Georgia Trend’s Most Influential Hall of Fame. His recent awards include the 2015 Dan Sweat Award presented by Central Atlanta Progress, the 2015 Heroes, Saints and Legends Award presented by the Foundation of Wesley Woods, the 2014 Award for Distinguished Service presented by the Atlanta Business League, the 2009 Shining Light Award presented by Atlanta Gas Light and News/Talk 750 WSB, and the 2009 Beacon of Light Award presented by BoardWalk Consulting.
While Bill was running the Community Kitchen at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, he saw the need to move beyond what one church and program could provide. He promised to secure enough food if other organizations would join him in the work, and the Atlanta Community Food Bank (ACFB) was born. In its first year, ACFB distributed 15,279 pounds of food to 25 partnering organizations.
Bill joined on as a charter member of the Board of Directors of America’s Second Harvest (now Feeding America), the national network comprised of more than 200 member food banks.
The concept for the annual Hunger Walk, now the Hunger Walk/Run, was born as Bill and a small group of friends and family sat around his kitchen table and dreamed out loud. The walk took its first steps with approximately 1,000 participants of every race, age, gender and religion sharing a core belief that no one should go without such a basic need as food. Today, more than 17,000 people come together once a year to raise funds and awareness. The event has raised more than $7 million over the past 30 years.
Bill established the Georgia Food Bank Network, comprised of ACFB and other food banks serving five segments of the state. Now known as the Georgia Food Bank Association, the group is made up of seven Feeding America member food banks serving 2,300 agencies across all 159 Georgia counties.
This time frame represents a rich period of active growth for ACFB. Bill enlisted staff and volunteers to lead and develop several community projects: Atlanta’s Table to provide prepared food rescue, Community Gardens to provide assistance in building and maintaining gardens, Hunger 101 to provide hunger and poverty education, and Kids In Need to provide free school supplies for teachers.
Bill founded the Atlanta Housing Forum, convening a monthly meeting of local entities interested in better housing solutions for low-income residents. The group later expanded into the Regional Housing Forum and shifted to quarterly meetings. Bill continues to serve as moderator of the regional forum.
Bill was one of 49 Americans selected by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation for Group XI of its Kellogg National Fellowship Program. His focus of study was on conflict resolution and citizen democracy in emerging democracies, which led him into work internationally in Russia, the Middle East and Latin America.
Bill traveled across Russia and helped set up a local food bank in St. Petersburg, Russia. To accomplish this monumental effort, he worked in collaboration with several groups: U.S. Department of State, U.S. Agency for International Development, European Federation of Food Banks, a partner of a Washington, DC based law firm with offices in St. Petersburg, Russia, and the St. Petersburg Mayor’s Office. Through the years, he would help start other food banks across the globe.
ACFB’s first-ever capital campaign to build a new facility began. Knowing how critical it would be to empower the Food Bank to better serve its partners in hunger relief, Bill worked with many leaders throughout the Atlanta region to ensure the necessary funds would be raised.
Bill moved his staff into ACFB’s new home at 732 Joseph E. Lowery in December of 2004. The new 129,000 sq. ft. building was the first LEED certified (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) food bank in the country.
Seeing the need to connect working families across metro Atlanta to economic support systems, Bill and his team launched a new community initiative, the Atlanta Prosperity Campaign, offering benefits screening and application assistance services.
Bill received the Shining Light Award presented by Atlanta Gas Light and News/Talk 750 WSB, and the Beacon of Light Award presented by Boardwalk Consulting.
Georgia Trend Magazine named Bill their 2012 Georgian of the Year. Bill was the first nonprofit executive to be awarded this honor. The magazine has consistently named him among their 100 Most Influential Georgians.
As ACFB moved forward into its 36th year, Bill led the organization into developing initiatives championing nutrition and wellness. Fresh produce became ACFB’s largest category of product secured for distribution to our partner agencies. Overall distribution by the end of the fiscal year exceeded 50 million pounds.
ACFB surpassed the incredible milestone of the cumulative distribution of more than half a billion pounds of food and supplies for people in need during Bill’s tenure.
Bill Bolling started the Atlanta Community Food Bank in 1979 with the vision that we could feed our hungry neighbors. He transformed that vision into a lifetime spent bringing people together and serving almost half a billion meals to families, children and seniors in need. Yet our work is not over.
Support our Founder's Fund and honor Bill Bolling by carrying his legacy forward. Work with us to ensure thateveryone in our community has access to the food they need for a healthy, productive life. Together, we can uphold the belief that every person, no matter their station in life, deserves to be treated with dignity and given a second chance.