Rick Bella was born in Gary, Indiana to parents Nick and Elsie Bella. When he was two years old, Rick’s parents purchased a home and moved, with his brother Nick Bella, Jr. to the Meadowland Subdivision on 55th Lane in Ross Township, which later became part of Merrillville, in December of 1971. Except for a few years in Hobart and Crown Point, and time spent in Bloomington at I.U., Rick has lived in Merrillville his entire life. The photo below is Rick (on the right) with his father and brother Nick (on the left).
Rick purchased his first Merrillville home in the Bon Aire subdivision off of 57th Avenue and Cleveland Street. He moved from there to Turkey Creek in the 5th Councilmanic district, where he served for three terms (12 years) as the Ward 5 Councilman from 1991 to 2003.
After completing business courses at Indiana University in Bloomington, Rick began his career with Tittle’s Foods, formerly Joe Tittle & Sons Food Market as an assistant store manager working in multiple locations including Merrillville, Miller, and Valparaiso, and later in management positions with Key Market Food Stores. In the 90’s Rick joined the Roundy’s owned, Midland Grocery as a fresh produce merchandiser, working his way up to produce buyer and Director of Produce Operations.
It was in this position where Rick first noticed the glut of fresh produce being discarded every day due to blemishes and slight imperfections that made the fruits and vegetables “unsellable” but not inedible. As he began to develop his thoughts as to how this imperfect produce could be used to feed those most in need, he sought and accepted a position with (called then) Second Harvest, the nation’s largest foodbank network based in Chicago. In his 10 years with Second Harvest (now called Feeding America), Rick created and managed a fresh produce program making fresh and nutritious produce available to their network of over 200 foodbanks located across the country, rerouting fresh, healthy produce from garbage bins to tables across America. Feeding America today is still one of the nation’s leading hunger relief organizations and continues to provide over 500 million pound of fresh food each year to needy children and families. In 2009, Rick joined Feed The Children, the Oklahoma City based worldwide non-profit, as the National Food Sourcing Director, and in 2011, was hired by Columbia Fresh Produce as Director of Business Development and Marketing.
Today, Rick concentrates his efforts on running his family-owned photography and graphic design studio providing a variety of photography, video, and design services. Rick’s passion for feeding those in need remains apparent in his philanthropic endeavors; for the past 15 years, Rick has donated his time and talent to his favorite local charity, Meals on Wheels of Northwest Indiana, providing photography, video, and graphic design work to help promote this worthy organization.