The Foodbank unveils new Beverly K. Greenehouse

The Foodbank unveils new Beverly K. Greenehouse

The new facility, funded with generous support from the Greene family, will produce an estimated 100,000 heads of lettuce per year

By Emily Gallion, Grant & Metrics Manager/Advocacy Manager, and Caitlyn McIntosh, Volunteer/Intake Support

Last week, our Foodbank family was excited to unveil a new 6,000 square foot Beverly K Greenehouse, which will be equipped with an aquaponics system and used to grow plants year-round.

The greenhouse has 800 grow channels and will produce approximately 80,000 plants, mainly heads of lettuce and herb bundles, per year. Lettuce is a crop that is popular among Foodbank clients, but it is difficult to procure due to its short shelf life.

This project is a gift from the Greene family in honor of Beverly Greene, who passed away in 2019 after a long fight with cancer.

“It is an honor to be naming this greenhouse after my mother,” Beverly Greene’s son, Charlie Greene, said. “She cared about our community and instilled strength in people to stand up for what was right. I know she is proud of this dedication that will serve our community fresh food every day throughout the Miami Valley area.”

The Greene family poses in The Foodbank’s Urban Garden after a hard day’s work.

The winter months pose a challenge for our garden, which significantly impacts the amount of fresh produce we are able to grow and distribute directly. Not only will this greenhouse benefit operations here at The Foodbank, but it will help our clients as well. Healthy, fresh items should be available on a year-round basis, not just during the growing season.

Using a hydroponics system, plants will grow without the use of any soil. Water travels through a system of piping and delivers nutrients directly to each plant. Maintaining proper soil conditions during the winter is difficult given the temperature fluctuations, so this method of growing completely eliminates that barrier.

When we first bought this land in 2014, we never envisioned that our city block would turn into the community resource it is today. With projects like the greenhouse, we can teach our community that you don’t need acres of farmland or even 6,000 square foot greenhouses to grow your own food — everything can be done to scale in your own home.

“We feel incredibly honored to keep Beverly’s memory alive through this gift, and to have also made friends with the Greene family,” Michelle Riley, The Foodbank CEO, said. “The Greene family understands and recognizes the need in this community, and they are passionate about food and the environment.”

We are incredibly grateful to have community partners who believe in our mission deeply enough to assist us with projects like this one. HEAPY Sustainability and Energy Services strives to integrate smart technology into environments like ours. They were a key partner in making this greenhouse happen.

“HEAPY is committed to building a more resilient, well, and sustainable society, so we are thrilled to donate our design services to build the Beverly K. Greenehouse and provide healthy, affordable food resources to the surrounding Dayton community,” said Mark Brumfield, CEO of HEAPY.

This vision could not have been possible without the support of our other key partners: Danis Construction; Chapel Electric Company; MSD, INC; CropKing, Inc; AC Elliot; and LL Klink.

 


Sustainability at The Foodbank

Sustainability at The Foodbank

Here’s what we’re doing at The Foodbank to look out for our planet.

By Lindsay Kreill, Garden Outreach Lead

Food insecurity and climate change are two very intertwined issues. Before the pandemic, over 35 million people in the US faced hunger, and that was estimated to have increased to 50 million as a result of the pandemic. At the same time, an estimated 30-40 percent of our total food supply is going to landfills. This becomes an even graver issue when you consider the environmental impacts of agriculture and that people in poverty are the ones most affected by climate change.

According to the EPA, the agricultural sector accounts for 10 percent of the U.S’s total greenhouse gas emissions. Soil management practices lead to the emission of nitrous oxide, and livestock produce methane — both powerful greenhouse gases. Additionally, food production requires a great deal of resources. Approximately half of the world’s habitable land is used for agriculture, with 77 percent of that used for livestock. In the US, 80 percent of our water is consumed by the agricultural sector. When the end result of this resource consumption ends up in landfills rather than on plates, it’s not only wasteful, but a new problem emerges. Organic waste in landfills generates something called landfill gas as it decomposes, and that gas is made up of methane and carbon dioxide — more greenhouse gases.

This is where food banks come in. As a member of the Feeding America network, we work hard to connect the excess food in this country to the families in our community who need it. We know that there is plenty of food for everyone, and we also know that food waste is harming our earth and everyone living on it. Our partnerships with local grocery retailers is one of the biggest ways we can simultaneously alleviate food insecurity and food waste. Statistics released by ReFED show that around 40 percent of food waste occurs in consumer-facing businesses, and 8 million tons is wasted by retailers specifically. We rescued 3,090,729 pounds of food from our retail partners in the 2020 fiscal year alone, and we are constantly working to better our processes for acquiring and distributing this food.

While our food spoilage rates are remarkably low, approximately 1 percent of food that we receive cannot be distributed. To combat this, we installed an in-vessel composting unit in The Foodbank’s urban garden. Last year we composted 25 tons of spoiled food from our warehouse, and the finished product is currently being used to fill our grow beds for the 2021 growing season. This means less food waste in landfills and more fresh, local, and chemical-free produce for us to distribute through our partner agencies and Drive Thru Food Pantry.

By growing our own food and accepting donations from local community gardens and farms, we not only are able to distribute high-quality produce to our clients, but also cut down on unnecessary transportation. We know that to be good stewards of the environment we must support the growth of our local food system. This is why our garden team is dedicated to using our urban garden as a space for learning and education.

We also recognize that sustainability is often about the smaller, less glamorous changes and are striving to implement those in any way we can. In 2019 we switched all of the lights in our warehouse over to high-efficiency light bulbs.

We partner with the University of Dayton each year to analyze our truck routes and determine the most efficient routes for our drivers to pick up food from retail spaces. In addition to making us more efficient in our mission to relieve hunger in the community, this helps us minimize our impact on the environment.

To reduce runoff and improve water quality, we follow the EPA’s recommended best practices for stormwater management whenever we are developing new projects. The garden is an excellent example of this, as it is located on an old parking lot that we are slowly tearing out and replacing with gravel to remove impervious surfaces. This semester, a group of University of Dayton engineering students are designing and installing two rainwater catchment systems for our compost sheds. The water we harvest will be used to clean compost buckets for our compost exchange program and water plants during the growing season. We are also designing a rain garden that will be installed next to the parking lot behind our building.

While there is certainly always room for improvement, we are excited to share with you many of the ways we are taking action to care for our collective home. Stay tuned as we continue to explore more ways in which we can be sustainable in fulfilling our mission.

Happy Earth Day!

 

 


Evaluating our reach with data

Evaluating our reach with data

The Foodbank recently underwent a Service Gap Map in partnership with the University of Dayton

By Emily Gallion, Grant & Metrics Manager/Advocacy Manager, and Caitlyn McIntosh, SNAP/Outreach Lead

There is a question we hear a lot: “With three counties, how do you make sure you are serving everyone who needs help?”

It’s a valid question — while our headquarters in the city of Dayton is our highest-need and most-populated area, our three-county service area spans a diverse territory with varying needs. We serve communities that are urban and rural, high-poverty and seemingly affluent, and communities of various racial and ethnic backgrounds. So how do we make sure we are investing where we need to?

The answer: the only way we can make sure we are equitably allocating our resources is to do it with data.

The Foodbank recently underwent a Service Gap Map in partnership with The University of Dayton. We periodically take this measure to evaluate the changing landscape of food insecurity in our community. It is also an important tool to assess how effective our own distribution of services is.

“We want to make a difference in the world, and there’s no better place to start than in our hometown of Dayton,” said Dr. Cori Mowrey, Department of Engineering Management, Systems, and Technology from the University of Dayton.

Dr. Mowrey went on to say, “Our team is very excited to partner with The Foodbank to develop data-driven, evidence based solutions to serve the needs of our Miami Valley community. We are committed to continuing this work to ensure equitable access to The Foodbank and their partner agencies’ resources.”

As a result of this analysis, we obtained the following map of Montgomery County, created using GPSVisualizer.com, OpenStreetMap.org, and US Census data:

Across all three counties, the University of Dayton team found that we have a 97%* coverage rate by headcount of food insecure individuals. This is good news: We were concerned that recent events, such as the 2019 Memorial Day Tornado Outbreak, would have a significant impact on the landscape of need in our area.

We have made the above map available to the public via press release. We believe this information is valuable to many stakeholders in the community, and we embrace the transparency that this data provides from an evaluation standpoint.

However, we are concerned for the locations that were identified as underserved. In Montgomery County, these areas were Vandalia, Englewood, and Phillipsburg. In response, The Foodbank has added two new monthly Mobile Farmer’s Market sites this week to ensure that the food needs of these communities are being met.

These new mobiles will take place at Living Word Church (Vandalia) and Englewood Christian Assembly (Englewood). Due to the close proximity of Philipsburg to Englewood as well as its relatively low population, we anticipate that clients in that area will be able to access the Englewood mobile.

To view the dates and times of these and other mobiles, visit https://thefoodbankdayton.org/needfood/.

We have made the choice to release this map in stages while we evaluate how to serve communities identified as needing additional food resources. While our Mobile Farmers Markets are an excellent way to distribute food in high-need areas, the heart of our operation is the acquisition and distribution of food to our partner agencies.

As a more permanent solution, we prefer to work with organizations that are already active in those communities to stand up brick-and-mortar pantries. Our agency relations team works closely with a variety of community organizations to help them to provide services in these areas.

For a list of these partner agencies, visit https://thefoodbankdayton.org/agencies/. If you are interested in becoming a member of The Foodbank, please contact Jamie Robinson at jrobinson@thefoodbankdayton.org or by calling (937) 461-0265 x 14

 

*Preliminary results showed an expected coverage rate of 95%. The actual rate given by the University of Dayton team showed 97.3% coverage by headcount.

 


7 Reasons Our 501(c)(3) Nonprofit Status Helps us to Better Serve the Community

7 Reasons Our 501(c)(3) Nonprofit Status Helps us to Better Serve the Community

By Emily Gallion, Grant & Metrics Manager/Advocacy Manager and Lauren Wolford, Development Lead

At The Foodbank, we have a special responsibility to our community to ensure that everyone can put food on the table. While every type of organization has a place in hunger relief work, our tax-exempt status holds us to increased standards of transparency and accountability.

In 1976, we began this work under the name “The Emergency Resource Bank,” providing comprehensive relief services to those in need as a subsidiary of the American Red Cross. We narrowed our focus to food distribution soon after and later became a 501(c)3 in 2003.

Why are we proud of our 501(c)3 status? Here are seven reasons:

  1. Publicly Available Tax Filings

The first step in becoming a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation begins with a state registration as a nonprofit organization. All nonprofit corporations are registered in the state and can be found on your Secretary of State’s website. For the specific 501(c)(3) accreditation, the Foodbank is considered a charity organization that abides by IRS filings, and disclosures. These IRS standards ensure that the organization does not operate for the benefit of private interests and that none of the organization’s net earnings are for the benefit of any private shareholder or individual. Simply put, the 501(c)(3) status ensures to the Foodbank’s stakeholders that our services and resources benefit our customers and community. 

 

  1. Oversight by an Independent Board of Directors

The Foodbank recruits individuals from a variety of stakeholder groups, from fields such as healthcare, education, and food service. These experts help guide us when we make key decisions. Our Board of Directors meets regularly to conduct business such as approving our annual budget, reviewing our bylaws and other internal policies, and evaluating our performance. Significantly, all members of our Board donate to The Foodbank. 

 

  1. Annual Financial Report

Once a year, The Foodbank produces an annual report detailing our accomplishments and finances. We make this report available to members of the public via our website. The annual report is an important method of sharing our activities with the community. Like many community organizations, the majority of our funding comes from individual donors. Through the report, we are able to demonstrate to them that we are using their donations effectively.

 

  1. Fulfillment of Grant Reporting Requirements

As a registered 501(c)3, we are eligible to receive grant funding from a variety of sources, including government grants or contracts, private foundations, and corporations. These relationships provide an additional layer of validity to our programming as they require us to track specific, measurable outcomes. The Foodbank also collects and disseminates a variety of data, including the number of people served through our programming and the amount of food we distribute, to entities such as the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services, Montgomery County, and the Ohio Association of Foodbanks. This data provides important insights into the state of food insecurity in our community.

 

  1. Publicly Available Community Impact Statement 

In addition to our Mission and Vision Statements, the Foodbank’s Community Impact Statement is available on our website. Community Impact Statements vary from organization to organization, however, they are a useful tool for relaying the social and economic contributions that nonprofit organizations make to their communities. For the Foodbank, our Community Impact Statement is updated annually and includes important information about our programs, economic impact, disaster relief work, advocacy work, collaborative work with our partner agencies, and more. 

 

  1. Guidestar and Charity Navigator Ratings

Nonprofit organizations’ tax filings are readily available through a variety of public databases, including Guidestar.org and Charity Navigator. These resources also rate organizations on a variety of measures, including financial efficiency, accountability, and transparency. The Foodbank regularly receives top marks from these organizations, which can help donors to make informed decisions about where their money is going. The Foodbank has received a platinum rating, the highest available, from Guidestar. We are also a Charity Navigator four star charity and scored 100 points out of 100 possible in financial, accountability/transparency, and impact/results. In 2018 and 2019, we were ranked the number two food bank in the nation by 24/7 Wall Street.

 

  1. Reporting of Outcomes to the Public

All reports, outcomes, and other pertinent information are published and can be easily accessed on our website. Like the Community Impact Statement, these outcomes are published on an annual basis and are updated on our website accordingly. The publication of these reports and their inclusion on our website ensures the Foodbank’s transparency with our community and customers.

You can access The Foodbank’s annual report here. Additional resources can be found at our website under the “learn” tab. 


Composting begins at The Foodbank

Composting begins at The Foodbank

The finished product will be used in our urban garden, which provides educational opportunities for our community while relieving hunger in our area.

Written by: Emily Gallion, Grants & Advocacy Manager and Caitlyn McIntosh, Development Manager

Over 20 percent of the material in municipal landfills is food. According to the EPA, food waste is the greatest single contributor to solid waste nationwide. While food waste can easily be repurposed into compost, only a fraction – about 6 percent – is put to use in this manner.

It is troubling to see such excessive food waste and food insecurity exist side-by-side. It is estimated that one third of food produced for human consumption is never eaten, and a significant amount of food is wasted for superficial reasons: for example, retailers often cannot sell fruits and veggies that are misshapen, the wrong size, or otherwise unattractive. Meanwhile, in our own community, 116,720 people are living with food insecurity.

Hunger relief organizations such as The Foodbank are in a unique position to address this issue. By “rescuing” food that would otherwise go to waste, we can reduce solid waste while also providing healthy food to those who need it. Food rescue from retailers accounted for 3.5 million pounds of food distributed by The Foodbank in 2019.

Our spoilage rates are incredibly low. Last year, we only lost about 1 percent of the food we acquired. However, considering that we distributed over 16 million pounds of food last year, even 1 percent can make a significant impact. Meanwhile, we were also buying compost for our urban garden and paying for carts to remove food waste from our property. We knew we could do better.

Compost during the stirring process; photo by Tom Greene of Dayton Times Magazine

Many people associate composting with bins of decomposing food — a smelly process that can take upwards of three months. Thanks to generous support from the Ohio EPA, Kroger, Central State University, and a private donor, The Foodbank was able to purchase an in-vessel continuous flow composting unit from Green Mountain Technologies, a US-based company whose mission is helping organizations like us reduce their environmental footprint.

For an organization such as The Foodbank, there are several opportunities associated with composting. The amount of food waste we produce is highly variable, and sometimes we only have a very small quantity of food to dispose of at one time. Odors were a major concern for us, as our garden is often visited by volunteers and children on field trips, and we absolutely could not run the risk of attracting pests – a major food safety hazard.

The unit, constructed from a recycled shipping container, shelters food waste from pests and harsh weather while creating the optimal conditions for composting. A metal auger stirs the compost, exposing it to oxygen and pushing waste through the unit. The consistent temperature and exposure to air means that the compost is finished after 14-21 days, after which it must “cure” in a separate location for 30-60 days.

This continuous-flow model is unique because it is able to move product through the container automatically. In traditional composting, food waste must be processed in large batches, but this is not feasible for food banks, which experience fluctuations in the volume of food waste produced. This unit allows us to add smaller quantities of food each day without disturbing existing compost.

Metal auger stirring compost; photo by Tom Greene of Dayton Times Magazine

While The Foodbank’s mission centers on hunger relief, food banks are in a unique position to address the issue of food waste. There is also a dual benefit associated with the acquisition of the new composter as well: the compost produced can benefit our on-site urban garden. Last year, the garden produced over three tons of fresh produce. 

In addition to producing food for our clients, the garden provides us an opportunity to educate our community. Last year, over 400 students visited our garden. The children we see are primarily low income students from neighboring areas, which are largely urban with limited green space.

The composter will allow us to offer additional educational opportunities to the community. And while our composter is a commercial-grade system made from a large shipping container, composting can be done at any scale in any environment. 

Most of our neighbors live in apartment buildings or houses with very small yards — not ideal environments for large gardens or large shipping containers of compost. Our urban garden has allowed us to teach the community how to use alternative ways of gardening, and we plan to teach alternative ways of composting as well.

Apple represents location of The Foodbank

In addition to the educational advantages of having a composter on site, there is another advantage: the bottom line. In 2018, we spent $8,000 on trash service to dispose of spoiled food, but we were also purchasing compost from other sources for use in the garden. We anticipate seeing a cost savings of $10,000 just from producing our own compost.

We hope to be able to use the unit as a potential revenue stream within the next few years by accepting food waste from other organizations and turning it into a salable product. 

The Foodbank is constantly looking for innovative practices to help us better the community. We are currently one of the only food banks in the nation with its own in-vessel composter. As our program continues to grow, we hope that our successes and failures can serve as a model for how we all can better manage waste.

Visitors are always welcome and encouraged. Contact our Master Gardener James Hoffer at 937-461-0265 ext. 20 or JHoffer@thefoodbankdayton.org to Turnip the Beet with us!