New Strategic Plan

Our New Strategic Plan

A New Year Means New Goals at The Foodbank

By Mary Beringer, Grant Writer

 

As we all look into the new year and think about the goals we have set for ourselves, the team at The Foodbank, Inc. is thinking even further into the future- we’re thinking about the next five years. 2023 marks the beginning of The Foodbank’s new five-year strategic plan. Parts of the plan are still taking shape, but the big ideas are locked in.

Our new mission is “eliminating hunger and its root causes”, which represents our devotion to doing the work that will not just feed the people in our lines, but also shorten and someday get rid of the lines entirely. There are three strategic initiatives folded in under this root cause work:

  1. Advocacy
  2. Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion
  3. Re-Entry

These will be the focal points of our new mission efforts. To us, advocacy means speaking up for those whose voices so often go unheard. We will campaign on a local, state, and national level to see that the needs of our neighbors are met. Everyone’s voice deserves to be respected, and everyone should have what they need to survive.

Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, or EDI, is a cornerstone of our work. We always put “equity” first, because once things are equitable, diversity and inclusion tend to naturally fall into place. Where “equality” means everyone receives the same thing, “equity” means everyone receives whatever they need to get to the same place. The distinction between these two concepts is important to us, as everyone’s degree of need is different. The terms “diversity” and “inclusion” speak to our desire to have all different kinds of people represented and included at all levels of the decision-making process. We believe everyone deserves a seat at the table when it comes to our work.

Re-Entry is not something you see in every strategic plan, but it’s very important to The Foodbank. 45% of our current staff have previously crossed paths with the justice system. We’ve explored in a previous blog how incarceration can often lead to food insecurity, especially because it can be so difficult to find jobs paying a livable wage upon re-entering the general population. These difficulties can impact not just individuals, but entire families. That is why The Foodbank is making a commitment to hiring previously incarcerated individuals and paying all our employees a living wage. Keep your eyes peeled for a full blog later this year, all about our Re-Entry work!

Everything we do at The Foodbank is in service of our mission: eliminating hunger and its root causes. We’re all excited to keep that mission in mind as we enter this new era of our organization. There’s still a lot of work to be done, but we can accomplish great things if we work together.


The 2022 Year in Review

The 2022 Year in Review

Evolving to meet changing needs

By Amber Wright, Marketing Coordinator

 

As 2022 draws to a close and the new year waits just around the corner, it is a great time to look back at our progress. Quarantines and other COVID-19 emergency protocols are coming to a close, but communities still struggle to mitigate the long-term effects of the pandemic. We have remained committed to our mission of alleviating hunger in the community through existing programs while also forming new partnerships to meet the changing needs of the neighbors we serve.

 

The Foodbank Programs

We have continued to support our communities with programs that target specific gaps in services. We send mobile pantries to high-need areas that often do not house pantries of their own. Since January, we have sent out 250 of these mobiles, averaging about 21 a month.

Our weekly, onsite Drive-Thru Produce Pantry has also remained in effect since it was opened. Operations originally began as a disaster relief measure in response to the Memorial Day tornadoes, and later the COVID-19 pandemic. For the fiscal year 2022, we served 650,843 neighbors and distributed more than 15 million pounds of food. Almost 4 million pounds of that was fresh fruit and vegetables, an integral part of a healthy diet often inaccessible to those experiencing hunger.

Another program that has continued to meet gaps in services is our Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP), which provides monthly shelf-stable food boxes to food-insecure seniors. These boxes contain shelf-stable food tailored to the needs of aging adults. The Foodbank distributed 11,624 of these boxes in fiscal year 2022.

The Good-to-Go Backpack program, which we continue to operate in partnership with some Dayton Public Schools, provides kid-friendly snacks for children in food-insecure households to take home over the weekend. A personalized “love note” with words of encouragement is always included in each of these bags. In the last fiscal year, we provided nearly 33,000 of these backpack bags.

The Foodbank’s Urban Garden continues to thrive. This year it has produced 7,191 pounds of fresh produce, including tomatoes, peppers, squash, melons, okra, pears, cucumbers, pumpkins, and more. The compost program has diverted 74,018 pounds of food spoilage from the landfill, cutting back on greenhouse gas emissions and providing rich nutrients for our garden beds. The eliminated carbon footprint is equivalent to 44,952 passenger vehicles driven for one year!

Many of our neighbors found themselves out of work and unable to pay for food or other critical necessities, causing lines at hunger-relief organizations to increase dramatically. We aided our remaining partners in meeting that need by providing food free of charge. We have continued to do that amidst the current year’s record inflation, supply chain issues and rising costs for food and fuel.

As a result of these policy changes, our partner agencies have had the time and support needed to regain their footing. We have slowly begun stepping away from our role as emergency disaster relief by scaling back our Drive-Thru distribution to its normal frequency.

 

Expansions at The Foodbank

Demands on hunger-relief organizations have increased significantly in recent years and The Foodbank has expanded to meet those needs. Our original building was designed to hold a maximum of 15 million pounds of food, but in fiscal year 2021 we distributed more than 17 million pounds. When we started distributing more food than our warehouse was designed to handle, we immediately made plans for building expansions.

In January 2022, the construction of a 6,000-square-foot building expansion was completed. This became our new volunteer area, dedicated to sorting and packing food for programs such as CSFP and Good-to-Go backpacks. It also allowed room to house and sort shelf-stable food donations for distribution.

More recently in August of 2022, we finished the construction of a brand-new freezer and cooler. Approximating 4,700 square feet, this has doubled our storage capacity for fresh foods. This allows us to store and distribute healthier forms of nourishment like meat, dairy, and produce.

Another noteworthy addition is a 30,000 square foot parking lot, granting us a designated space for volunteers to park on the property along with our new team members.

 

New Programs and Partnerships

This year has brought new programs and partnerships as we continue to adapt to life post-COVID-19. The pandemic demonstrated the importance of collaboration when building the social safety net, which we will continue to strive for in years to come. In 2022 we have teamed up with several organizations and introduced new programs to meet evolving needs.

One such partnership is with the well-known food delivery service DoorDash. In March, we teamed up to deliver emergency food boxes and fresh produce to neighbors experiencing transportation as a barrier to food assistance. It has since expanded to deliver CSFP (senior) boxes to program participants who are shut in.

Expanding on our efforts to alleviate childhood hunger, we have partnered with Edison Elementary of the Dayton Public School system, which opened a pantry on campus to aid food-insecure students and their families. Another school has already begun the process to do the same.

We also started working with 10 branches of the Dayton Metro Library in Dayton, Miamisburg, Huber Heights, Vandalia, and Trotwood. These locations are now partners that distribute emergency food boxes to neighbors in need.

Another notable partnership gained this year is with the Keener Farms Charitable Organization (KFCO).  This new charity purchases cattle from local farmers and processes it into ground beef to be distributed to our neighbors. This is particularly helpful during a time of soaring meat prices, which hinders the ability of some of our neighbors to access adequate protein for their diets.

Other efforts have been made to address negative health outcomes often tied to hunger or poor diet. Premier Health has joined Dayton Children’s Hospital in screening their patients for food insecurity. Those that test positive are screened for a monthly food box and directed to our other services. We also partnered with Diabetes Dayton, the only local charity that does outreach for the chronic illness which is also commonly linked with food insecurity.

We have launched new initiatives within our own organization as well.

As treatment centers, halfway houses, and sober living continue to emerge, so does a new kind of need. There has become a pool of people living in residential centers as they continue to seek help for mental health issues, drug/alcohol addiction, and other ailments. It is common for this part of the population to be without transportation, restricted from leaving, or tied up with required classes, rendering them unable to access any of our services when SNAP dollars are not able to stretch far enough. In response, we started a program for case managers to be able to pick up emergency food boxes as needed. This alleviates the strain on case managers and tackles food insecurity among the neighbors they assist.

The Beverly K. Greenehouse in our Urban Garden is a new development that recently had its first anniversary. November 3rd marked one year since the first lettuce seeds were planted. It has been used to grow roughly a dozen varieties of lettuce year-round. To date, we have harvested roughly 30,000 heads of lettuce, which we distributed to our partner agencies and directly to our neighbors in our weekly Drive-Thru.

We have also embraced new Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) transformational initiatives. A two-day Racial Equity Matters workshop by the Racial Equity Institute was provided for all staff. Our goal is for all Foodbank employees to better understand racism in its institutional and structural forms. Moving away from a focus on personal bigotry and bias, this workshop presented a historical, cultural, and structural analysis of racism. The Foodbank also retained a highly respected local EDI consultant to assess our organization and help us align our work with our in-house EDI initiatives.

 

Moving Forward

Our organization has adapted to several major challenges within the last few years, including natural disasters, the COVID-19 pandemic, and most recently, a challenging economic climate. These all presented unique barriers, which we were able to overcome. The ability to pivot and adapt has allowed us to reshape our services to meet the need and we will continue to do so as long as the need exists.

Moving forward, we plan to take a more holistic approach to address food insecurity. Our focus will expand more on the conditions which cause people to seek food assistance. We have formed new partnerships with organizations outside of the hunger relief network and will strive to keep doing so over the next few years so we can address the issue of poverty in more comprehensive ways.

As always, we remain committed to the pantries, shelters, meal sites, and other local agencies that we partner with. Our original mission of acquiring and distributing food will remain our top priority.

 

Special thanks to our partners, who make our work possible!

The Foodbank, Inc. Partner Agencies

              • AFL-CIO Labor Pantry
              • Abundant Season Pantry
              • Apostolic Lighthouse Church
              • Aspire Church
              • Belmont United Methodist
              • BOGG Ministries
              • Camden FISH
              • Catholic Social Services
              • Central Christian Church
              • Common Good Pantry of Preble County
              • Community Action Mission Program (CAMP)
              • Dakota Center
              • Daybreak
              • Dayton Christian Center
              • Dayton Children’s Medical Center
              • Dayton Cooks!
              • Dayton Metro Library (10 branches)
              • Diabetes Dayton
              • Downtown Dayton Initiative-GESMV
              • Emmanuel Lutheran Church
              • Emmanuel SVDP Conference
              • Evangel Church of God
              • Expressions of Life, Inc.
              • Fairborn FISH
              • Fairview United Methodist Church
              • Family Violence Prevention Center
              • Fellowship Tabernacle
              • First Baptist Church of New Lebanon – Village Pantry
              • First Dawn Food Pantry
              • FISH Southeast
              • FISH Wayne Township
              • Five Rivers Health Centers
              • Food 4 Families
              • Foodbank Mobile Markets
              • Girls on the Run
              • Go Ministries International
              • Good Neighbor House
              • Goodwill Easter Seals – Miracle Clubhouse
              • Greater Galilee Baptist Church
              • Greene County FISH Pantry
              • Greenmont Oak Park Church -Neighbor to Neighbor Pantry
              • Harmony Creek
              • Harris Memorial CME Church
              • Have a Gay Day, Inc.
              • Hearth Community Place
              • Homefull
              • House of Bread
              • Ignited Missions
              • Jamestown UMC
              • Lewisburg Area Outreach
              • Liberty Worship Center Helping Hands
              • Maranatha Worship Center
              • Marketplace Movement Pantry
              • McKinley United Methodist Church – Helen Brinkley Pantry
              • Memorial United Methodist Church – MUM Food Pantry
              • MVHO – Miami Valley Housing Opportunities
              • Miami Valley Meals
              • Miamisburg Helping Hands
              • Carmel
              • Njoy! Njoy!
              • Northeast Churches
              • Northmont FISH
              • North Riverdale Church
              • Northwest Dayton (SVDP)
              • Precious Life Center
              • RCCG Dominion Center
              • Shepherd’s Hand’s – Brookville
              • Shiloh Church UCC
              • South Fairborn Baptist Church – Lifting Up With Love Pantry
              • Spring Valley United Methodist Church
              • John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church
              • John’s UCC
              • Mary’s Church – SVDP
              • Paul United Methodist Church
              • Peter RC Church
              • SVDP – DePaul Center
              • SVDP – Gateway
              • SVDP – Safe Haven
              • SVDP – Supportive Housing
              • Storehouse Food Pantry – PFI
              • Thrive Together
              • O.P.S
              • Trinity Lighthouse Church-TLC
              • Triple C Community Outreach
              • United AME Church
              • United Community Brethren
              • Vineyard Christian Fellowship
              • Volunteers of America
              • Wayman AME
              • Wesley Community Center
              • With God’s Grace
              • With God’s Grace – Free Store
              • Xenia Nazarene – Kinsey Food Pantry
              • YMCA of Greater Dayton
              • YWCA of Dayton
              • YWCA Preble County Shelter
              • Zion Baptist Church

Black History-in-the-Making: Tae Winston

Black History-in-the-Making: Tae Winston

Dayton Powerhouse supports Black-owned businesses in the Dayton area, brings commerce back into the community

 

By Amber Wright, Development and Marketing

Every February we celebrate the accomplishments and contributions of Black Americans throughout history.

A simple Google search will generate endless pages filled with iconic pictures: Martin Luther King Jr. addressing the crowds in Washington, Muhammed Ali standing over a knocked-out Sonny Liston in the boxing ring, protestors holding signs while marching in unity, and Rosa Parks poised with strength and dignity in front of a bus.

These images are snapshots of pivotal moments in American history, cataloging the struggle of our nation as we began the transition from slavery and segregation to civil rights and equality.

At The Foodbank, we realize the fight is not over yet.

Our organization is dedicated to addressing the root causes of poverty, which includes factors such as systemic racism, redlining, and other policies that have contributed to racial inequity. It is crucial that we have these conversations so we can develop sustainable solutions.

While it is tempting to reiterate the atrocities that took place in our country and the extraordinary men and women who fought (and often died) to bring about change, that information is better taught in school textbooks where it can be discussed in-depth.

For this blog, we want highlight history-in-the-making with a profile of a local woman who is part of the solution for systemic change. Tae Winston is a Black entrepreneur who is using her talents to improve local communities and the small businesses they house.

 

Tae Winston: Entrepreneur

Tae Winston has made it her business to help other local businesses.

In a time of pandemics, natural disasters, rising inflation and economic instability, the people who often suffer most are small business owners. Factor in decades of redlining, discrimination, and food deserts, many historically Black Dayton neighborhoods have been deeply affected. Winston’s success with the Dayton Powerhouse is helping to reverse the damage by providing the space and guidance for local entrepreneurs to thrive.

The Dayton Powerhouse is a collective created by Winston which also sponsors community events. It includes two buildings housing various businesses, an educational center and a bus that has been converted to a mobile fashion store.

Her first brick-and-mortar store, the Entrepreneur Marketplace, was opened in 2019 as a space for local entrepreneurs to have a safe place to connect, shop, and sell their products or services. Local vendors can display their product without having to finance all the overhead costs for things like rent, electric, staff and property maintenance. The Marketplace comes staffed with its own manager, so independent sellers can still work a normal job while their wares are being sold.

Located in the Wright Dunbar business district, it also provides a place for the community to buy local in an area where many businesses had permanently closed.

“When I first came to Wright Dunbar it was a food desert and business was dead,” said Winston. “It inspired me to bring a chef into the Marketplace and have food trucks outside to give people options. Now the district is drawing in other businesses and beginning to rebuild.”

The launch was so successful that she opened two additional brick and mortar locations. The Entrepreneur Shoppe, also located in the Wright Dunbar business district, is another store housing more than 30 Black-owned businesses. The Entrepreneur Connection is an academy that works with small business owners by providing workshops, resources, guidance, and support. It also can be rented out to other community members who need space to host classes of their own.

“My thing is, anyone can get an LLC and become a business, but can you sustain it? Can you grow it and make a profit? That’s what we offer,” Winston said.

Opening the Connection is continuously helping the community by giving local small businesses an opportunity to gain footing in a market dominated by large corporations. With a pandemic induced shutdown and an immediate rise in inflation, bigger businesses are often the only ones able to survive. The Marketplace and Shoppe enables smaller vendors to access space. The Connection coaches them on how to use it.

In addition to facilitating commerce in her brick-and-mortar stores, Tae Winston attracts customers with her organized events. The Fashion Meets Food Truck Rally has hosted more than 50 vendors and 15 food trucks in Trotwood. Winston also created what former mayor Nan Whaley officially proclaimed “Wright Dunbar Day” on June 27th, 2021. This event has already created revenue for 80-100 small businesses and 30 food trucks, according to Winston. Her events have the capacity to feature as many as 300 merchants. This generates cash flow that stays in the community.

The Dayton Powerhouse did not pass unscathed from Covid. All the large events had to be canceled and her stores saw a decline in sales. Winston adapted with a curb-side pickup policy and managed to keep her doors open. “Covid just came and changed the game,” she said. “I’m still struggling to make up for the losses, but I’m making it work.”

Winston says she faced the same barriers many Black entrepreneurs face when first entering the market: lack of capital and support. Her entire business venture has been self-funded without grants or a business loan. That is a problem many people face in areas that have been redlined, often disproportionately effecting people of color. After securing her brick-and-mortar retail space, she encouraged other small businesses to share it.

While most small businesses she works with are Black owned, she offers her services to everyone.

“I don’t care what color you are. I don’t just cater to Black vendors, I help all races,” she said. “I am proud to be a Black business owner, but I am here for everybody. What I do is out of love. That’s how I was raised.”

Experiences with discrimination motivated Winston to help other aspiring business owners by being more inclusive and supportive. “I was a vendor that was thriving and doing well, but I was pushed out of my space for trivial reasons,” Winston explained. “That’s what made me want to create a safe place for people to thrive where they wouldn’t be pushed out like I was.”

All of Winston’s efforts have revitalized the community so greatly that Winston’s business was selected for the Ohio Business Spotlight and received a certificate of commendation from Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose. The recognition is given to organizations for transforming the community and educating job creators about what it takes to succeed.

“I’m more concerned with helping others instead of only building myself up,” she said. “I think the community would look different if more people were willing to collaborate, share information and support each other in life and business. We can all win.”

The Dayton Powerhouse has worked with more than 350 Black-own businesses in the last three years. More than 25 vendors have already grown into their own independent locations which are still sustaining. Annual events like Wright Dunbar Day bring the community together while supporting local and minority-owned businesses.

Winston credits her success to hard work and to being part of the community, not just doing business in it. She has taken a seat on the Greater West Dayton Incubator Advisory Council where she can also be a voice for the community she serves.


What to expect: The Foodbank pilots new neighbor intake system

What to expect: The Foodbank pilots new neighbor intake system

The platform, created by Feeding America, will allow us to collect more insights about the people we serve

By Emily Gallion, Grant & Metrics Manager/Advocacy Manager

Thanks to a new partnership with Feeding America, The Foodbank is piloting a new neighbor intake platform. This platform will allow us to better understand the people we serve and evaluate our services, but may cause some minor disruption as we adapt to the new system.

The new platform is very similar to PantryTrak, the system we already use, which was created by our friends at Mid-Ohio Food Collective. However, the new program will collect more complex demographic information so that we can evaluate how well we are reaching communities that are traditionally underserved.

We are already using the new system to sign-in clients at select Mobile Pantry and Drive Thru Food Pantry distributions. Significantly, we are unable to import our historic client database to the new system at this time.

PantryTrak has enabled us to quickly pull up our returning neighbors’ profiles without entering more detailed information, but we must create a new profile for each individual for this new system. Fortunately, this is a one-time process — you will not need to provide this information for each consecutive visit.

If you are unable to provide any of the following information, you will not be turned away from receiving food. Our team does everything we are able to, in keeping with state and federal guidelines, to make sure anyone who reports a need for food receives assistance.

The new platform will require the following information from clients:

  • Full name
  • Date of birth OR age
  • Street address
  • Number of adults (18-59), seniors (60+), and children in the household
  • Date of birth OR age of each family member

If you are picking up on behalf of another household, you will need to provide this information about the family you are picking up for.

We’d like to remind you that we are required to collect the above information about each client to receive federally-purchased food. While we strive to make our programming as user-friendly as possible, we must follow federal and state guidelines to distribute food. (In special circumstances, we are able to find alternative solutions — such as offering food that is nor federally purchased — to ensure no one goes hungry.)

As we move further in the pilot process, we will be asking additional questions to help understand who we are serving. You may decline to respond to any of the following questions:

  • What race or ethnicity do you identify as?
  • What gender do you identify as?
  • Does anyone in your household receive SNAP/food stamps?

Finally, we will be piloting optional questions to gather information such as dietary restrictions, disability status, and veteran status. You may decline to respond to any question you do not wish to answer.

We are grateful for our neighbors’ patience as we collect this vital information. We are so excited to use this data to better serve our community.

If you have questions about this pilot, call Lauren Tappel at (937) 461-0265 x40


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 http://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 http://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. 


Closing out a historic fiscal year at The Foodbank

Closing out a historic fiscal year at The Foodbank

Amidst the ongoing recovery from the 2019 tornado outbreak and the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, The Foodbank distributed more food than ever before

By: Emily Gallion, Grant and Advocacy Manager, and Caitlyn McIntosh, Development Manager

Despite an unusually challenging year, The Foodbank was able to distribute 17,884,642 pounds of food in our 2020 fiscal year, which ran from July 1, 2019 to June 30, 2020.

Over one third of the food distributed by weight was fresh produce. With it, we were able to provide food to 116 partner agencies in our three-county network and serve a total of 935,404 people.

It’s hard to believe over a year has passed since the 2019 Memorial Day tornado outbreak. The storm left over $1 billion in property damage and at least 1,800 without homes. While the disaster struck a month before the beginning of the fiscal year, recovery has been slow, and the destruction is still visible in many parts of our community. Read about our tornado relief response here.

It’s even harder to believe that just one year after the storm, our community would be living through a mass shooting and a pandemic. It has been a challenging year,  but we are honored to have been able to serve our community through it.

Here are some highlights from the past year at The Foodbank:

Drive Thru fills critical gaps in COVID-19 response

A line of cars forms outside The Foodbank’s Drive Thru Food Pantry on a rainy distribution day.

Our on-site drive thru was built in 2018 as an accessible distribution site for our Senior Box Program. While we saw potential in the drive-thru to expand our distribution capabilities, we didn’t know just how critical it would be in our disaster relief efforts.

Early March was an extremely difficult time for us at The Foodbank. The spread of COVID-19 and mandatory social distancing measures forced us to rethink nearly every aspect of our operations.

We typically host Mobile Farmers Markets at 27 different sites each month, but the high attendance at these events makes social distancing difficult to enforce. Sadly, we had to suspend these distributions for nearly three months.

Additionally, we could no longer visit our 18 Senior Box distribution sites due to safety precautions at the living facilities. With all of these operations canceled, we were left with one way to get food out of the building and onto the tables of our community — our on-site Drive Thru Food Pantry.

Immediately, we saw attendance rates spike to levels we have never seen before. Before the pandemic began, our Drive Thru was averaging about 200-300 households per distribution. That number skyrocketed to 600-700 households per day, peaking at a record breaking 750 households on April 22nd.

This was an incredible year for the Drive Thru, which served a total of 37,249 households and distributed 3,467,113 pounds of food. It is an essential service that aids in our confidence that Miami Valley residents can always turn to us no matter the circumstance.

 

Mobile Farmers Markets distribute record-high number of meals despite COVID-related cancellations

Like nearly all aspects of our operations, our Mobile Farmers Market program was impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. We were forced to temporarily suspend our Mobile Farmers Markets March 12 to limit the spread of the virus.

After developing a plan to enforce social distancing, which included additional staffing to keep our families six feet apart, we were able to reopen on a limited basis starting in June.

After carefully evaluating each Mobile site to ensure our ability to enforce social distancing and reach all areas in our territory, we selected 11 sites to reopen first. We are continuing to evaluate the course of the pandemic as well as food insecurity projections in our area to determine our next courses of action.

While our almost three-month closure certainly affected our metrics, this has still been a very successful year for our Mobile Farmers Market program. Through this program alone, we were able to distribute a total of 1,848,453.7 pounds of food to families in our three-county service area — an increase of 73,990.5 pounds from the previous year!

We would like to thank our generous donors and volunteers for supporting our work in the past year. Last year, a total of 5,414 volunteers spent 13,600 hours with us. We couldn’t do it without your help! Follow our social media accounts @thefoodbankinc for future announcements on volunteer opportunities. While we are still not allowing volunteers on-site due to the severity of the pandemic, we hope to see you all soon.

It has been a record breaking year here at The Foodbank and we are hopeful for what the future holds. This year has challenged us in ways we never thought possible and proven our true resiliency as a team and a community. If you want to read more about our service area, hunger statistics, or our economic impact, visit our Tri-County Impact Statement on our website.


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!