In The News

Together We Are Making An Impact – Thank You

We are getting more food out the door than last year. That is really good news. Our food distribution is up over last year by 9%. We are seeing more struggling families receive enough food to cover the average gap of 7 pounds per person per week. That number is important. When someone is able to access that amount of food in one location they not only receive enough food to cover their gap for a week, but they will not have to visit another location that week which saves time and limited resources. Being able to have a little more time and resources is sometimes all that is needed for someone to be much closer to self-sufficiency versus being dependent on a system that forces them to make multiple visits to different locations. What would your life be like if you had to visit multiple stores to get what you needed to eat and had a quarter of a tank of gas until Friday?

Educators tell us that kids do better in school when the parents are engaged and are in sync with the school staff. The School Pantry Program is designed to facilitate a positive experience to get parents and teachers talking about positive things happening with the children, who in turn respond to the positive messaging they hear at home and at school by seeing themselves in a positive path for the future. Raising a generation of kids who are aimed at a self-sufficient adulthood that will not need a safety net of social service providers is what this program is about. We all need kids to find a path (not the same path) to making it on their own and to raise their children to be self-sufficient as well. Our efforts are prioritized to make shortening the line of need our first priority.

We engage struggling families to take the steps needed to end the poverty cycle and the rest of the community to facilitate those steps by removing barriers they may not even are aware that exist. We want to change the system and drive permanent impact. If you would like to learn more about barriers, we have experienced facilitators and would love to partner with you to host a training session.

Have a great July,
Tim
President & CEO

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Growth In Programming Requires More Volunteers

In the last 18 months we have experienced substantial growth in our programming. The growth has come primarily in our School Pantry Program. We are now in partnership with 10 schools in 4 counties and we are ready to move forward with another 14 schools that would represent 7 counties. This parent-school staff relationship building program continues to grow in numbers of families who attend each month. Schools are seeing a record number of parents engage with them. This slow burn, continual interaction is providing great opportunities for parents to learn what is going on at school, discuss the progress their child is making and develop a positive impression about school visits. The big win is that the children are exposed to positive discussions every month about their education which sets the stage for improvement in academic achievement. We all want and need for these kids to do well in school so our communities can continue to produce self-sustaining young adults who are ready to further their education or technical training and fill the jobs we have available now and see in our future.

This program growth needs more volunteer engagement to allow it to expand into schools who have already expressed an interest in partnering with us. This is a great opportunity for a church to “adopt” a school and supply the volunteer needs on a regular basis. It takes a group of 4-5 people to meet the delivery truck and get the food into the building and set it up for the distribution to happen after school. It takes about 12-15 people to come to the school just before the distribution happens (usually around 4 or 4:30) and pass the food out to families until approximately 6-6:30. This normally happens once per month at each location. The total time commitment would be in the neighborhood of 3 hours per month if you volunteered for the delivery crew or the distribution crew. There is also the opportunity for the volunteer to engage deeper with the school and consider participating in a mentoring program or volunteer to be a chaperone for a field trip. These opportunities can provide a positive impression on a young child for a lifetime.

I ran across a simple explanation for Categories of Volunteering provided by BRiCKs Alliance, Inc. It breaks down volunteering in 4 ways, but I’m sure there is some overlap. 1) Give – Provide basic needs (clothing, food, money, etc.). I have something from which others can benefit. 2) Do – Provide time, skills-based support, etc. I really do not know what it is like to be in another’s situation, but I provide support in ways that I hope will help. 3) – Engage (Volunt-Hearing) My friend needs my assistance but they define what they need. Realization that this is part of my life, not a “project” I learn from the relationship about myself and my community. Two-way relationship! 4) Advocate – I have a broader understanding of my community and I learn from my relationships about systemic barriers. (I am dissatisfied with the current state.) All that said, every important effort requires collective energy to be accomplished.

There are deep needs in this community. Everyone can has something to offer from the most gifted to the least, even if you are in need, you have something to offer. We teach our children by the way we engage to assist the community to become a better place. A place where they may want to live because they can find a job, their kids can get a great education and the community works together to raise the boat we are all in. We need a few groups to work a few hours once a month so relationships will grow and kids will be in a better place because of it. Will you help? You may just love it.

Tim Kean is the President and CEO of Second Harvest Food Bank of East Central Indiana. The Second Harvest Food Bank network of 115-member agencies and programs provides food assistance to more than 70,000 low-income people facing hunger in Blackford, Delaware, Grant, Henry, Jay, Madison, Randolph and Wabash Counties.

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TEAMWork for Quality Living Merger

On February 25, 2016 we held a press conference to announce that Second Harvest Food Bank of East Central Indiana and Teamwork for Quality Living (TQL) will come together and merge our two great organizations into one, effective July 1, 2016.

Since the announcement, there has been a lot of buzz from the community around just how this will work. So here are a few of the facts for clarity.

  1. TEAMwork for Quality Living will move under the umbrella of Second Harvest Food Bank as a program.
  2. The TQL staff will become part of the Second Harvest staff and will move to the Second Harvest facility.
  3. The 501 (c) 3 status held by TQL will be dissolved and we will operate under the 501 (c) 3 held by Second Harvest.
  4. The community can continue to contribute specifically to the TQL program after the merge.
  5. We intend to develop partnerships for this program in the other 7 counties we serve as we go forward.

motherandbabyOver the last several months, our board and management team at Second Harvest have been developing a long-range strategic plan for the continued growth and sustainability of the organization. Through this process, we looked closely at the issues related to hunger and food insecurity across East Central Indiana and we challenged ourselves to evaluate every aspect of our organization to find solutions to these problems.

While there were numerous outcomes from this process, likely the most significant was a refined definition of our organizational purpose. Once this was in place, we were able to develop strategic objectives that will advance the organization and direct our energy, resources, and expertise in two core focus areas.

This is best described in the following phrase; Help for Today and Hope for Tomorrow!

Help for Today and Hope for Tomorrow is what this merger is about. This merger represents the practical application of what Help for Today and Hope for Tomorrow looks like in real terms. Our organization is in its 33rd year of operation. Picture our operation as a 3-legged stool. This first leg is Food Distribution. This is how most people would define us. We access millions of pounds of food that would go to waste and get into the hands of struggling people. This is what Help for Today looks like – providing immediate short-term assistance.

Our current Hope for Tomorrow areas of emphasis include our second leg – Education. We have always had the role and responsibility of providing a food education component for the people in need and to expand the knowledge of the general public regarding the circumstances of struggling people.

Hope for Tomorrow also includes the third leg of our stool, which is our role in Advocacy. To speak out for those have no voice but who have a right to be heard in all areas of our government and in our communities.

This merger enhances Hope for Tomorrow by adding an important fourth leg to our work, a pathway to self-sufficiency.

This will assist in providing a way for someone who wants to change the circumstances they’re in by starting on a path toward self-sufficiency, free from dependency on the safety net of service providers. This program coaches and encourages people with accountability on ways they can move from “Surviving to THRIVING”. This additional leg of our stool will help “shorten the line” of need. Providing this important path for independence provides Hope for Tomorrow and in doing so, we all benefit.

 

Written by Tim Kean

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