We are in the midst of our strategic plan refresh which will take us into 2018. This is a realistic look at today and a visionary look to our future. Local relationships are expanding. Purdue University School of Technology continues to engage more interest from local companies who see this as a direct way to engage the topic of food insecurity and what role they could play. Our relationship with Ball State University continues to expand the opportunities in immersive learning for students from several areas of study. Students are seeking us out for prime internship opportunities. Established professor networking continues to provide meaningful team projects for several classes with additional focus in Public Relations and Journalism. Anderson University will also provide some opportunities for student and faculty engagement as we move toward the reality of a Hunger Free Zone established in the community hopefully during 2015. This would involve several additional programming components in addition to food distribution, more to come later.
Other areas getting attention are diverse. We are currently vetting the idea of establishing a Food Hub in Delaware County for East Central Indiana. This is a little different than a farmers market. The closest one currently in operation is in Greenfield. We have the facility footprint large enough to support one and it would be very much in line with what we do every day, to get perishable foods moved to consumption points.
Testing is underway for a potential alternative program we currently operate that is directed to low-income seniors funded through the USDA. We believe we can provide more food to more low-income seniors with less government red-tape than the current program allows. We are excited to get some feedback from seniors, distribution site volunteers and potential funders from our test counties to help us reach a decision. We hope to have a decision by the end of this month.
Composting has been on our radar for a few years now. We are working with Farmished, another not-for-profit who has been in conversation with us for almost a year. Michael Wolfe, Founder, President and Chairman of the Board of Farmished and his team are focused on establishing a sustainable food system in the local community. We can supply a lot of the material (food) that is past its prime to feed the compost pile and together we can produce a marketable product. The acreage that Farmished now owns is going to be a great site for several programming pieces we hope to develop together. We are waiting to hear results from a grant request for solar panels (educational programming and reduced energy footprint), also funding for some of the composting equipment. Community garden activity and food distribution are also part of the overall plan.
We are also visioning some new community-based educational activities and revenue generating entertainment located on our complex of just over 36 acres, all aimed at providing us with an additional sustainable source of income. Looks like 2015 will be eventful.
Written by Tim Kean