Capital Campaign Solutions
Fueling the Future is about reaching more people with healthy food options where, when, and how they need it. To do that, we’re investing in several different solutions in addition to a bigger, better facility.
Most people who need help bridging a budget gap for food go to food shelves. But there’s still a stigma attached to walking into a food shelf, so sometimes people go without food. Food is medicine, but getting the right food at the right time – just like medication – isn’t always affordable.
More than 30% of people in our service area who use food shelves also have diabetes; more than 40% have high blood pressure. To reach those people for whom the right nutrition is key to managing their health, Second Harvest Heartland launched a pilot program called FOODRx. The concept is to remove that barrier to healthy food by reaching people directly via their health care provider. Our pilot programs with health care partners like CentraCare in St. Cloud have shown that we can improve health and reduce health care costs by providing the right food at the right time in the right way.
Through the capital campaign our goal is to fund the remainder of the pilot so we can be fully operational, reaching more people who need food directly through their health care providers. Learn more.
Child hunger can’t be solved by any one group or program. Second Harvest Heartland created a framework to tackle child hunger in collaboration with numerous partners. Our vision is a caring community who believes feeding children is necessary, and hungry kids aren’t someone to be ignored, or shamed. We want to create a group of caring adults who know where to get food and can help children connect to what’s best for them. We’re working to make every food shelf, meal program, and benefit option easy to find and use.
The three-year plan to bring that vision to reality had four components and involved a wide range of partners, from school districts to meal delivery programs, to state and federal policy makers to marketing professionals.
Tailored Agency Solutions
Think of a farmer or a food manufacturer as the “first mile” in the emergency-food network: they make or harvest the food. The food shelf or meal program that provides the food is the “last mile.” We as the food bank connect the two.
As part of our campaign, we had a goal of partnering with agencies in new and better ways to strengthen that “last mile.” The agencies in the network are quite diverse, from small food shelves run by volunteers to national, wrap-around service providers (e.g., Salvation Army, Catholic Charities).
To better meet those diverse needs, the Tailored Agency Solutions strategy focuses on three areas of investment: financial investment, technology, and technical advice and training.
Network Financial Investments
Tailored grant opportunities will make it possible to support specific needs. While many larger nonprofits, who offer food as one of their many services, have the staff to apply for grants, many food shelves simply don’t. To help the medium to small food shelves, we’ve grouped these grants into three types:
- Local — To help agencies or programs with the early stages of program development for under-served populations, for example, the elderly in rural Minnesota. The financial help will be paired with technical help from Second Harvest Heartland.
- Community Changemaker — A focus on approaches that increase agency collaboration with others in the community, for example schools, senior housing, etc.
- Capital Investment — Helping agencies build physical and technological infrastructure, for example, adding mobile delivery vehicles, coolers to store more fresh produce, meat and dairy protein, or the purchase of information technology hardware and software.
Many agencies in the hunger-relief network have limited dollars to invest in technology solutions. Improvements would help both their day-to-day operations and their long-term capabilities. Example: By comparing the area they serve to census data, a food shelf could find populations or areas that are under-served and then create a plan to meet that need. Or through software or an app, food shelves could share inventory information with each other in real time. If one has too much of one food type and one doesn’t have enough, they can directly connect and share resources.
Technical Advice and Training
Operating a food shelf or a meal program requires a broad range of skills from Board of Director development and volunteer engagement, to financial and inventory management and operations expertise, to name a few. With this funding, Second Harvest Heartland will grow our ability to document local and national best practices and help the network adapt what works best for them. Example: A food shelf in a small town could connect via Skype to a training on fundraising or starting a mobile pantry.