Chip seminar2010 arnold_hunger


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John Arnold's presentation handout for the Center for High Impact Philanthropy

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Chip seminar2010 arnold_hunger

  1. 1. flow a Community Mobilizes and Employs Its Anti—Hunger Resources is the Difference Between Adequately Addressing The Need, or Not Adequately Addressing It "If a community addresses the key issues our research has identified, it likelygzm adequately address its hunger problem. ” ’’If a community does not address the key issues our research has identified, no conceivable configuration of compensatory measures will bring adequately addressing its hunger problem to within reach. ” —lnternationa| award—winning Second Harvest Gleaners Food Bank of West Michigan (now Feeding America West Michigan Food Bank)/ Michigan State University ”Waste Not Want Not Project” A Report for the Center for High Impact Phi| anthropy’s inaugural Seminar at Wharton: Addressing the Needs of Vulnerable Families, November 7-8, 2010 John Arnold Executive Director Feeding America West Michigan Food Ban| < 864 West River Center Drive Comstock Park, MI 49321 616-784-3250 iohna@FeedingAmericaWestMichigan. org (after 12/31/10: ima614@triton. net) www. FeedingAmericaWestMichigan. org
  2. 2. The Waste Not Want Not Project In 1993, the Heart of West Michigan United Way in Grand Rapids, Michigan conducted a comprehensive community needs assessment study to determine where it should allocate its funding. At the news conference in early 1994 where the United Way announced its findings, the United Way's President & CEO said that they were surprised at what they had found. Coming into the study, they had had some preconceived notions of what they would find, but once they started doing the actual research something surprising occurred: No matter what problem or community need they looked at - failed pregnancies, children not learning in school, teens getting into trouble, excessive emergency room usage, etc. ~ the subject of hunger always came up as generally having caused or exacerbated the problem. The United Way's conclusion was that hunger was a festering sore that was the source of many community problems, and that in order to get ahead of the curve in dealing with those problems the wellspring of poison needed to be capped off: The hunger problem needed to be adeguately addressed. At that point in his presentation the head of the United Way pointed at me, John Arnold, the executive director of West Michigan's regional food bank, and announced, "That man is going to solve the prob| eml” The room erupted in applause. People around me thanked me for this miracle I was about to perform. I was in total shock and disbelief. He might as well have announced that I would bring peace to the Middle East! So when the session ended I asked him how exactly he expected me to achieve this amazing thing? He assured me he hadn't a clue, but was confident that since we (the food bank) were ”the food guys”, that we could and would figure it out. So I and my staff began trying to do just that, but had difficulty concentrating on the matter because of how much of our days were occupied by fending off offers of food we could not take because our warehouse was already full. At the time we were being offered so much food that we routinely were having to decline between 6 and 8 million pounds of food per month, far more than was needed to adequately address the County's need for food aid. Eventually it dawned on us that there was a disconnect in the system somewhere: We had access to more than enough food to meet the need, but the need was being so poorly met that hunger ranked as our community's worst unmet need. So we went back to the United Way and secured $264,000 to fund a two-year research collaboration of the Food Bank and Michigan State University to get to the bottom of the matter. A That international award-winning* research effort, the Waste Not Want Not Project, identified a series of mistakes and missed opportunities in how charity food assistance services in America are generally operated, and determined that the average community in the U. S. probably already has access to more than enough food, and is already spending as much as five times more on the hunger problem than would be necessary to adequately address the problem if the mistakes and missed opportunities are corrected. *International City/ County Management Association Award for Programs for the Disadvantaged.
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  5. 5. AMERICA’S HUNGER PROBLEM If one were to try to portray America’s hunger problem in picture form, what would it look like? Most people see it this way: A woefully inadequate donated food supply available to the charity sector requiring service providers at every level to supplement that supply with purchased food, government commodities, canned good drives, etc. in order to come anywhere close to meeting the need. Food Supply AmerIca’s Food Banks Agencies The Needy Second Harvest The Waste Not Want Not Project research suggests a very different picture: A more than adequate donated food supply blocked from solving the hunger problem by a series of barriers In the distribution system, particularly at the agency level. Food Supply America's Food Banks Agencies The Needy Second Harvest . .. -
  6. 6. Key Findings and Recommendations of The Waste Not Want Not Project 1. Many/ Most communities have never estimated their area’s need for food aid and/ or how much food aid is being provided. Why it matters and how to fix it: if no one knows how big the need is, no one can plan for how to address it. Noise can easily substitute for substance, and no one can be held accountable for making credible progress toward meeting the need. A crude but remarkably effective way to estimate an area’s likely annual need for food assistance is to multiply 234 lbs. times the number of persons in the area who are subsisting on incomes at or below the poverty level. The area’s Feeding America food bank should be able to estimate how much food aid is being provided in the area. Q key players will know how much of a gap remains to be addressed. 2. Many/ Most communities haven't enough charity food distribution outlets; large gaps between them | il<e| y exist; many people who need food aid don't know who/ where they are. Why it matters and how to fix it: Food in the charity food pipeline doesn't matter if people who need it lack reasonable access to it. The average charity food distribution agency in America can probably handle only between 40,000 and 50,000 lbs. of food per year. Divide the total estimated need by 45,000 lbs. to determine the number of agencies likely needed; the area’s Feeding America food bank will know how many agencies there currently are. Someone (most likely the area’s food bank) needs to contact churches, synagogues, civic organizations in areas where there are gaps to recruit them into providing food aid. Mobile food pantry services can be used to serve persistent gap areas. Where, when and how needy people can access food aid needs to be widely publicized. 3. Many/ Most charity food agencies’ first choice for acquiring food is to have its supporters participate in a traditional food drive. Why it matters and how to fix it: In a food drive, people buy food at retail prices and donate that support in ways that generally are not tax deductible. By foregoing their tax benefits they have increased the cost of addressing the area’s hunger problem by as much as 25%. The simple fix is to coax agencies to solicit tax deductible ficl donations instead ofjcfl donations. 4. Many/ Most charity food agencies acquire much/ most of their food via they or their supporters purchasing that food at retail prices. Why it matters and how to fix it: Retail purchasing by charity food agencies or their supporters translates dollars into food at only a dol| ar—for—dollar rate. By contrast, if the agency solicited funds from its supporters and then used those funds to acquire food from the area’s food bank, they could get in the range of twenty dollars’ worth of food per dollar spent! Add in the tax benefits of #3 above, and making these two simple changes can move a community as much as 26 times closer to being able to afford to adequately address its hunger problem! 5. Many/ Most charity food agencieswill permit the people they serve to access food aid only once per month or less often than that without regard to how often they might Leg help. Why it matters and how to fix it: The average American household shops for food 2.2 times per week; but because it makes it easier for their record-keeping, and because ”they can't afford to let people get help more often than they are”, many/ most charity food agencies limit how often the people they serve can access food aid without regard to the clients’ needs. If people
  7. 7. who need help cannot get help when they need it, then by definition a community cannot adequately address its hunger problem! The solution is to coax agencies into collecting funds and acquiring food from the area's food bank; if they do that, they almost certainly E afford to let needy people draw food aid as they need it, and if the agencies can afford to do that, they obviously should do it. Their ”not being able to afford to” is entirely a function of how they choose to acquire their food. 6. Many/ Most charity food agencies subject people who ask them for help to arigorous eligibi| ity—screening process designed to weed out ’’people who are just trying to scam the system”. Why it matters and how to fix it: ”Scamming” for food aid is an urban myth, but in their zeal to defend against it what we found in the Waste Not Want Not Project study was that as many as 40% of genuinelyheedy households were deterred from getting help by the questions asked, documentation required, and rulings rendered by charity food aid agencies. As above, a community cannot adequately address its hunger problem if four in ten people who need help are kept from getting it by a generally unnecessary eligibility determination process. As with #5 above, many agencies justify the practice because ”they can’t afford to be scammed”. ... because of how they have elected to acquire their food! If they collect money and use the area’s food bank, they can afford to risk the 1 in 1,000 "abuser” in order to serve the 400 genuinely needy people they otherwise would have driven off without help. Charity food agencies need to be coaxed into taking people who ask for help at their word. 7. Many/ Most charity food agencies (and now even some food banks) significantly censor the food products they are willing to seek, accept and/ or offer to the people they serve. Why it matters and how to fix it: in the Waste Not Want Not Project's study of what products charity food agencies were generally willing to handle it was determined that as much as 80% of the goods that gllti be offered to needy people would probably not be offered to them. That dropped the amount of food available to well below the amount needed to meet the need. The blockage generally arose from either the agency giving out only a standardized box of a certain array of products, or from individual staff/ volunteers at the agency deciding that "needy people don't need, shouldn't have, can’t use, wouldn't want, etc. ” particular products. To fix the problem, charity food agencies need to be coaxed into offering their clients some of every food product that is available! 8. Many/ Most charity food agencies give out food in the form of standardized food boxes or otherwise give clients goods without regard to what the clients need or can use. Why it matters and how to fix it: When food is given out without regard to individual clients’ needs, the Waste Not Want Not Project found that as much as half of the food given out ends up not being used! That is: Fully one-half of the community's anti—hunger efforts and spending is for naught! This is the most easily correctible, and the most necessary of all the issues identified by the Waste Not Want Not Project: People should not be given arbitrary selections of food aid but instead should pgoermitted to freely make their own selections from the full array of available goods! Batched back with the tax benefits of #3 and the better leveraging of resources per dollar spent of #4, coaxing a community's charity food aid agencies to switch from giving out standardized food selections to permitting clients to pick out their own food can multiply out to increasing the community's capacity to adeguately address its hunger problem by as much as 52 times over the "traditional” practices they replace!
  8. 8. 9. Many/ Most charity food agencies give needy people only a three—day (or some other arbitrary quantity totally unrelated to clients’ needs) food supply. Why it matters and how to fix it: ”Three day food boxes” are a historic relic much like ”Dime Stores” or ”5—cent coffee”. There was some basis for the practice 30 years ago, but it has long since disappeared. Now many/ most agencies justify the practice on the basis of "we can’t afford to do more” and ”it is the way our church has always done it! ”. if agencies can be coaxed into mobilizing and employing resources 52 times more cost effectively per #'s 3, 4 and 8, above, they clearly gap afford to let clients take as much as they need to, and always doing something that doesn't work is not a good reason for continuing to do it! What the Waste Not Want Not Project found was that by the time people were desperate enough to seek food aid they almost always needed seven to ten days’ worth of help. Charity food agencies need to be coaxed into permitting their clients to draw as much food as they need (which actually doesn't generally radically “increase the amount of food agencies handle, because now all of it is being used instead ofonly half of it). ' 10. Few charity assistance systems consider offering clients food aid when the clients have a need that otherwise cannot be addressed. Why it is a problem and how to fix it: Because food is available in virtually limitless quantities (and will be wasted if not used), and because food aid can (if #’s 3,4 & 8, above are employed) leverage huge advantages per dollar spent on it, why not use extra food aid to help at—risk people keep up on their rent or mortgage? Why not use it to help people pay their utility bills? Why not use it to help people get needed furniture or clothing? Why not use it to help people pay their medical bills? The average 4—person household in the U. S. spends between $100 and $125 per week on food. lfthe help they need isn't otherwise available, why not give them extra food aid in orderto free up their food money for addressing that need? 11. Few charity food agencies provide their clients with any information or assistance regarding SNAP (food stamp), WIC, EITC or other governmental aid they might qualify for. Why it matters and how to fix it: Particularly in a recession many clients are needy for the first time and may well be unaware of what other help they might qualify for. Providing them with information about other aid is an easy fix. 12. Few charity food agencies regularly inform their community's elected officials of the magnitude and nature of need they face. Why it is a problem and how to fix it: Legislators and other elected officials only know what they know; if no one tells them about the hunger problem, they may well not take it into consideration in performing their official duties. Most charity food agencies routinely compile statistical reports on their activities each month. Informing the area’s elected officials is as easy as making some extra copies and sending them to the area’s Federal, State and County officials. *= i<*>l<>l<*>l<>l<>l<** By leveraging/ employing the area’s anti-hunger resources as much as 52 times better, by providing aid in ways that actually meet needs, by helping at-risk people access other help they might qualify for, and by keeping the area’s elected officials’ informed of the need, a community is moving so powerfully across such a broad front against hunger that the dream of a hunger—free community can easily and quickly become a dream come true,
  9. 9. .. ... O|<ay, okay, but does this Waste Not Want Not stuff really work? it turns out to be exceptionally difficult to get charity food agencies to change how they operate. But here are three quick examples of what happened when change has occurred: (1) Newaygo County, Michigan - In early 2006 the Fremont Area Community Foundation got wind of the Waste Not Want Not Project's findings and West Michigan's food bank's addressing service gaps with mobile food pantry services. The food bank had served the county for 25 years but had coaxed agencies there into drawing/ distributing quantities of food aid equal to only about a third of the estimated 1.5 million pounds per year need. That fall, the Foundation sat those agencies down in two meetings and explained that from then on the Foundation would be devoting g| _l of its anti—hunger resources to promoting the needed reforms. fpp_r months later, in January 2007 Newaygo County went hunger-free. It has stayed at that level ever since. (2) Ottawa County, Michigan — in the fall of 2006 the amount of Ottawa County's food aid need being met with food drawn from the food bank nearly doubled, almost overnight! The food bank had done nothing it was aware of to cause that change, and so was surprised by that increase. As above, the food bank had served that county for 25 years and had gotten up to meeting only about 25% of the estimated need. Suddenly, 44% of the need was being addressed with food bank food. So calls were made to see what caused that jump, and come to find out, the 17th time the food bank's executive director did his annual presentation to the United Way's funds allocation panel there, ”they got it”! Apparently theyjumped all over every agency they met with after then, and those agencies nearly doubled their use of the food bank. (3) Charlotte North Carolina — Shortly after the Waste Not Want Not Project issued its findings in the mid-1990's, the executive director of West Michigan's food bank was invited to give the keynote address at the food bank in Charlotte's annual agency conference. The food bank there was very frustrated at having its distribution see—saw between 5 and 6 million pounds per year for nearly a decade in the face of both food supplies and evident need far greater than that. In that address agencies (largely Southern Baptist churches) were challenged to hold their agencies’ practices up to what The Bible teaches: How often should you help someone who is in need? What kinds of hoops should you make them jump through in qualifying for help? How _iT_‘i_li(_2_l1 help should you give them? Etc. The conference occurred mid-year; that year the food bank's distribution jumped to 7 million pounds for the first time ever, the next year it went to 10 million lbs. , and the next year to 13 million lbs. ---That they had been stuck between 5 and 6 million pounds per year never had anything to do with supply or demand, and instead had everything to do with old habits that get in the way of getting the need adequately addressed.
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  11. 11. Food Pantry Best Practices Evaluation Score Sheet Agency's Name Date Scored Current Score In each of nine criteria under "Current, ” a pantry is scored according to its current practices. These nine numbers are then multiplied together to determine the pantry’s overall score. If you are not happy with that total, please go back through the score sheet indicating, ,under "Goal, ” what prac- tices could, should or will be changed, and then multiply these nine scores together to see just how easy it is to improve the pantrj/ 's efifectiveness by making very achievable changes in its operations. 1 Tax Savings For Supporters Which of the below best describes this food pantry's normal practices? Z! Most of the support it receives from individuals is in the form of money (checks or money orders) and not as food (canned good drives or collections) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Score 1.25 Two-thirds of the pantry's support from individuals is in the form of money and one third is in the form of food . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Score 1.17 2! Half of the pantry’s support from individuals is in the form of money and half is in the form of food . . . . . . . . . . . Score 1.13 One-third of the pantry’s support from individuals is in the form of money and two-thirds is in the form of food Score 1.08 Most of the pantry's support from individuals is in the form of food and not as money . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Score 1 Current score for #1: Your goal for #1: 2 Translation of Pantry Funds into Food What percentage of this pantry’s food acquisition funds are spent on acquiring donated goods (Oct-18¢ per lb. ) from a food bank? : ] 90-100 percent . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Score 10 : ] 75-89 percent . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Score 8 : ] 50-74 percent . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Score 6 — ercent . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . care 3 25 49 p s 3 : ] Below 25 percent . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Score 1 Current score for #2: Your goal for #2: Charity Food Programs That Can End Hunger in America By John M. Arnold Goal Score 3 Client Screening Which of the below best describes this food pantry’s normal practices? 1:! E! Cl C! We ask pretty much only who they are, where they live and if they are in need (and maybe why) . . . . . . . . . . . . Score 1.25 We require that they prove who they are and where they live . . . . . . . . . . . . , . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Score 0. 75 We require that they prove who they are, where they live and why they are in need (their income, etc. ) . . . . . . . .Score 0.50 We require that they prove who they are, where they live, why they are in need, and we check that out (on a computer, with phone calls, etc. ) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Score 0.25 Current score for #3: Your goal for #3: 4 How Food is Offered to Clients Which of the below best describes this food pantry’s normal practices? I! C] II 2! Clients are permitted to freely assemble their own food box from whatever goods are available . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Score 2 Clients are permitted to assemble their own food box by some formula . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Score 1.75 Clients may pick out some (a small portion ) of what they are given . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Score 1.25 Only a standardized box is given . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Score 0.50 Current score for #4: Your goal for #4: 5 Quantity of Food Given Which of the below best describes this food pantry’s normal practices? 3 2! El Clients are able to take as much as they feel they need . .Score 1.5 Clients are given or permitted to take whatever the pantry determines it thinks they need on a case—by-case basis . Score 1 Clients are given a standardized amount unrelated to their need, but then are referred elsewhere or are invited to return , for more help when needed . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Score 0.75 Clients are given a standardized amount unrelated to their need and are denied or discouraged from seeking more . .Score 0.25 Current score for #5: Your goal for #5: 31
  12. 12. 6 Frequency of Help Provided Which of the below best describes this food pantry’s normal practices? II Clients are provided food as often as they need help . Score 1.5 Clients are permitted to come back only by some schedule, but more than once a month . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Score 1 Clients are served as often as once per month or every 30 days . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Score 0. 75 II I] _'_| Clients are not permitted to draw food even as often as monthly . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Score 0.25 Current score for #6: Your goal for #6: 7 Variety of Goods Offered to Clients which of the below best describes this food pantry's normal practices? II Variety of goods offered or given to clients includes most goods available from the food bank . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Score 1.5 Variety of goods offered or given to clients includes more than half of the variety of goods available from the food bank . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Score 1.25 I] Variety of goods offered or given to clients includes about half of the variety of goods available from the food bank . .Score 1 : ] Variety of good offered or given to clients includes less than half but more than one quarter of the goods available from the food bank . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Score 0. 75 : | Variety of goods offered or given to clients includes less than one~quarter of the variety of goods available from the food bank . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Score 0.25 Current score for #7: Your goal for #7: 8 Ensuring That Clients Are Aware Of Other Help They Might Qualify For Which of the below best describes this food pantry’s normal practices? 3 Pantry provides clients with information on food stamps, etc. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. ... ... .Score1.10 _'_] Pantry is prepared to and does answer clients questions about other aid . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Score 1.05 3 Pantry provides no referral advice . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Score 1 , :| Pantry requires application for food stamps, etc. as a condition of further service from the pantry . . . . . . . . . . . . . Score 0. 75 : ] Pantry denies service to clients who are receiving food stamps, WIC or other similar aid . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Score 0.5 Current score for #8: Your goal for #8: Charity Food Programs That Can End Hunger In America By John M. Arnold 9 Informing Elected Officials of Hunger’s Reafifies Which of the below best describes this food pantry’s normal practices? 3 Pantry sends key government officials updates at least quarterly . . . . . . . . , . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Score 1.10 : ] Pantry sends key government officials updates at least annually . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Score 1.05 : ] Pantry does not send information on its work or workload to key government officials . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Score 1 Current score for #9: Your goal for #9: Scoring: You should have a total of nine numbers. In order to calculate the pantry's total score, you need to multiply down the column. For example, if the nine scores were: 1.25, 6, 0.75, 1.75, 1, 0.75, 1, 1.05 and 1. You would multiply 1.25 x 6 x 0.75 x 1.75 x 1 x 0.75 x 1 x 1.05 x 1, for a total of 7.75. That (7.75) is the pantry’s total score. Current Please enter this pantry’s total score here: The highest score possible is 127.6. Such a pantry is truly making optimal use of available resources and is truly blessing its clients. Conversely, the lowest score available is 0.0009. Pantries on the low end are costing their communities more or are blessing clients far less than high—end pantries are. In general, Pantries with a score above 100 are model programs Scores of 80 to 99 indicate excellent programs , Scores of 60 to 79 indicate very good programs Scores of 40 to 59 indicate good programs Scores of under 39 indicate programs needing improvement Raising Your Score If this pantry Wishes to raise its score, please go back over the score sheet and rescore the pantry under “Goal. ” Simple changes like referring clients on to other pantries for more help or letting them pick out a few odds and ends will greatly increase the score. Each change that increases the score represents increased likelihood of the pantry’s making optimal use of resources and of its services really blessing its clients. Goal Please enter this pantry’s goal score here: And there is no need to stop here! The more you raise your score now or later, the more help you willbe able to give people and the more that help will really truly bless them as you always wished it would. 32
  13. 13. The Average American Food Pantry. .. still has not been challenged by the Waste Not Want Not concept. Here is what it would score on the Food Pantry Best Practices Evaluation Scoresheet: 1) Prefers having its supporters give it food rather than money; Score ends up with about a 50/50 mix of food and money. L13 2) Spends 25-49% of its food funds at its local food bank. 3§)0 3) Requires clients to prove their address and need. (#50 4) Gives out standardized food boxes. $50 5) Gives out standardized quantities of food. 025 6) Only permits clients to access help once per month. $75 7) Gives out less than half of the varieties available. (£375 8) Provides no referral advice. lfiw 9) Does not communicate with public officials. 120 Total Score 0.12 . ..ofa possible 127.60 Why does it matter what they score? What the Waste Not Want Not methods do is tug the charity food system closer to practices that drive down costs to levels communities can afford and are more likely to adequately address needy people’s actual needs. Traditionally, many charity food programs’ preferred way of acquiring food has been a food drive. But in a food drive, people are paying full retial prices for food and generally receive no tax benefit for their gifts. That tests out as up to 26 times less cost-effective than if they had donated money (written as a check), taken a tax deduction for it, and the agency had acquired its food from the area’s food bank. And on the distribution side, most charity food programs in America give out standardized food bags that the Waste Not Want Not research found result in Waste levels of as much as 50%, as contrasted with client-choice distributions which drop waste to as little as zero. _ Taken together, shifting from food drives/ standardized food boxes to fund drives/ food bank food/ client choice distributions increases a community’s capacity to adequately address its hunger problem by a factor of 52 times over. Not 52%, 5200%. And if you pick up that efficiency then agencies can afford to let needy people acquire food more often, acquire more food, etc. , up to the level of ending hunger.
  14. 14. Food Banks Are From Abundance and The Agencies They Serve Are From Scarcity The modern era of hunger in America began in 1977-82 when a period of very high increases in the cost-of-living coincided with a backlash against The War on Poverty and its "welfare queens" who were supposedly buying steaks fortheir dogs with Food Stamps. Between the mid- 1960's and 1977 the much-maligned but in reality remarkably-successful War on Poverty had reduced the need for charity food assistance to the point of letting most of the charity food agencies that had existed prior to then go out of business. So when widespread hunger returned in the late 70's/ early 80‘s, 'churches and other charity organizations had to create their charity food programs more or less from scratch, and did so based on the realities of the times in which those creation efforts occurred. It was a time before food banks were widespread or large, so most agencies in most communities were essentially on their own to come up with the food they would give out. Pretty uniformly across the country that involved their getting supporters to buy food for the food program, or collecting money so the food program itself could go to the store and buy what it needed. "What It needed" nearly always was defined by a committee of agency staff and/ or volunteers who sat down and tried to come up with what seemed to them to be a reasonable two or three day supply of food. And "two or three" days arose from the fact that at the time it was widely known that If a family was in dire need they could apply for "expedited" Food Stamps and were supposed to receive those within three days. So it was thought that only a three-day supply was necessary/ proper because all the charity agency needed to cover, so it was widely believed, was that two or three day gap. And in the context of widespread angst at how the poor were "conning the system" and how hard it was for agencies to secure food, treating clients with distrust and severely limiting how much food was given them made all the sense in the world. Then with the advent of food banking, the world changed, but the agencies largely did not. Most charity food programs in America are church or faith-based, and an interesting characteristic of church and faith-based enterprises is that once they have done something in a particular way for a period of time it solidifies Itself as "tradition". There are few phrases that signal finality more strongly than the phrase "At our church we've always done it this way. " And so long after food banks have become able to supply pretty much all of charity food programs‘ food, remarkably large numbers of charity food programs persist in their 1977-82 mindsets and practices because "that is the way they have always done it". Food banks, on the other hand, are a product of abundance. They exist because gargantuan quantities of edible food in America is routinely trashed for purely marketing reasons. if the agencies food banks serve would/ will take and offer their clients the full range of goods available from their food bank, the food bank could/ would be able to solicit and accept food enough to end hunger. Most food bankers are of a mindset to let this otherwise-to-be-wasted food be made generously available to the needy in order to relieve as much suffering as it can. But if the food the food bank has isn't what the agencies they serve have traditionally given out or if the food bank acquires more of products that agencies do give out than agencies need for their 3-day food boxes, the result is an impasse: The food bank chafes in the abundance available to it, while the agencies it serves chafe in scarcity of their own creation and perpetuation. We food banks and the agencies we serve come from different places. We are divided by perspectives and traditions. it is the stuff of Venus vs. Mars and Red States vs. Blue States. And it stands between where we are now and our ever adequately addressing America's hunger problem. it's not about a lack of food. it is about an inability to make optimal use of food. And until we figure out how to overcome it food banks and America's charity food distribution agencies will continue to be like planets silently passingone another in the night on their very different orbits around a hunger problem that will not end.
  15. 15. 5 , ¢., . . .sa{ 4, -»_. ..: ::j; ‘
  16. 16. A Tale of Two Churches Imagine two churches across the street from one another. Both of them are aware of people in the neighborhood and in their congregation who are suffering from unemployment, low wages, debt, and other problems such that they periodically have trouble even getting enough food to eat. So both churches decide to provide such people with help. Church X Decides to procure food to give to needy families by asking the members of the church to buy food at the store and to bring it with them to the church for the churoh’s food pantry. So the members do that, spending $5,000 over the course of a year. They receive no tax benefit for their gifts, so the after-tax cost to them is $5,000. For their $5,000, the members are able to buy about 3,500 lbs. of food for the pantry. The pantry lovingly assembles standardized 50 lb. food boxes with the food. 70 families are given those standardized food boxes. As much as half of the food ends up not being used. Bottom Line: At a cost of $5,000, Church X has reduced hunger in the community by about 1,750 lbs. = 1,750 meals. Church Y Decides to procure food to give to needy families by asking the members of the church to donate funds onto its account at the Food Bank so that the church’s food pantry can obtain food there. So the members do that, spending $5,000 over the course of a year. Their gifts qualify for up to a 25% deduction on their Federal taxes, so the after-tax cost to them is as little as $3,750. With that $5,000 on its account, the pantry is able to draw approximately 35,700 lbs. of food from the Food Bank. The pantry lovingly stocks its store- like shelves with the food. 714 families are invited/ permitted to select 50 lbs. of food they can use. All of the food ends up being used. Bottom Line: At a cost of as little as $3,750, Church Y has reduced hunger in the community by about 35,700 lbs. = 35,700 meals. During the worst economic downturn in half a century, which approach makes the most sense? Which one would you want used ifgfamily was hungry? Which approach does your pantry use? The time to convert it to the “Church Y” approach is before you need food aid!
  17. 17. .. .but people l_i_k_e_ to give cans. ... .! Let’s assume your church is in a community of 3,500 people that has a poverty rate of about 11% (which is about the national average). From those numbers the Waste Not Want Not research would project a likely annual food assistance need ofjust over 90,000 lbs. Suppose people in your church faithfully bring in cans of food for its own or another churoh’s pantry to help meet that need, and just for illustration purposes let’s assume the total they bring in is an average of 30016 oz. cans per week. That would meet 15,600 lbs. or about 1 7.3% of the need, at a total cost to those giving those cans, assuming a 69-cents per can cost, of $1 0,764 per year. To meet 100% of the need that way (sidestepping for the moment the client choice vs. standardized bags issue) those faithful givers need to be coaxed into spending/ giving $51,336 more per year than they now are. Suppose that you try to get them to give money instead so that the pantry can get its food from your area’s food bank, but that so many people are put off by the change that a third stop giving altogether, a third give only half as much as they used to, and only a third continue giving at the old rate. That would total $5,382. The givers would likely be able to deduct at least $1,076 of that on their taxes, so the total they would be out would be only about $4,306. But with $5,382 the pantry could acquire about 53,820 lbs. of food from the food bank, meeting nearly 60% of the area’s estimated need! If over time more people could be coaxed into giving in this new way the entire need could be met for approximately $9,000 per year, with donors being able to get about $1,800 of that back on their taxes, for a total bottom line cost of meeting the area’s estimated need ofjust $7,200, which is 30% less than what they used to spend on canned goods in meeting only a fifth of the need! Waste Not Want Not!
  18. 18. Could anything be nicer than providing Holiday baskets to the needy? Every year across America during the November-December holiday season countless churches and organizations rally themselves to the cause of "making sure that every needy person has ‘turkey and all the trimmings‘ for their holiday meal". In many/ most communities that takes the form of some coordinating entity advertising the availability of holiday baskets to the needy, and enlisting interested churches and others in buying, assembling, and often even delivering that food. To make sure that everyone gets it right, often the organizing group provides those volunteers with a list of what to put in the basket, generally suggesting that the total cost to acquire those goods will run about $40. And from that expense a needy family will get a “traditional” holiday meal. Could anything be nicer? Well, actually, something possibly could be: Suppose instead of spending that $40 at the store the original donor had sent $40 to be put on a food pantry's account at the area's food bank. With $40 on account at the food bank the food pantry could draw more than $500's worth of food, which it could let the needy family draw at a rate of about $100's worth of food per week for the next 5 weeks! Holiday meal, or $100's worth of food per week for 5 weeks? If you were constantly struggling to make ends meet, which one would you choose if given a choice between the two? 100% of the clients we have asked have instantly affirmed they would prefer the more long- term help. But who ever gives clients . a real choice? All they are asked is “Would you like a holiday basket? ”.. .with the unspoken end of the sentence being “. ..or nothing at all? ” So of course they say “yes” to getting a basket, and communities dutifully spend a fortune in providing far less help than they could have. In hard times even beloved traditions need to be critically examined to see if there might be some way to get more optimal performance from the resources employed. And in this case, there is. Needy families who really want holiday baskets should still get them, but if and when possible they really should be given a meaningful choice in the matter.
  19. 19. Key Contacts for Anyone Wishing to Pursue The Waste Not Want Not Reforms Nationally, Statewide, or Locally Anywhere in the United States 1 - A wealth of information can be gleaned absolutely free (there is no charge for anything! ) on Feeding America West Michigan Food Bank's web site: www. FeedingAmericaWestMichigan. org in particular, download ”Charity Food Programs That Can End Hunger In America” and the ”How to Run A Food Pantry” manuals found on the ”Resources” page. Collections of what the world's major religious faiths’ guiding scriptural texts say about dealing with hunger and the needy can also be found there. 1 2 - The Feeding America national office is located at 35 East Wacker Drive, Suite 2000, Chicago, IL 60601. Their phone number is 312-263-2303. Vicki Escarra is the President & CEO, at extension 6610. A good place to start in talking with them is to contact Donald Zeilstra, their VP of Philanthropy/ Strategic Gifts at 312- 641-5612 or dzeilstra@ FeedingAmerica. org. 3 — To identify/ locate the Feeding America food bank(s) that serve(s) whatever state or local area you are interested in, visit the ”Food Bank Locator” tool on Feeding America’s web site: www. FeedingAmerica. org 4 - For more information from the person who convened and coordinated the Waste Not Want Not Project and who has assembled and presented this information at the Center for High impact Philanthropy’s Inaugural Seminar at Wharton, contact John Arnold, Executive Director, Feeding America West Michigan Food Bank, 864 West River Center Drive, Comstock Park, MI 49321, 616, 784-3250, X7860, or via: '| ohna@FeedingAmericaWestMichigan. org until 12/31/2010 OF '| ma614@_triton. net after 12/31/2010