January 26 | 10:00-11:30 am EST
The third session focuses on how decisions are made to address the needs of those experiencing food insecurity, and who is making those decisions. The session includes a reflection in the way decisions have been made in the past, and opportunities for understanding needs and root causes and making meaningful and high impact decisions together in the future.
Participants will learn how some local agencies and nonprofits worked together in new ways to evaluate changes in demand and supply of food in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Case studies from the Grand Traverse Area, and from Des Moines, Iowa are featured. Speakers share information about how data from community members, and about community needs and resources, informs decisions-making within an individual organization, like a food pantry, and also across multiple agencies and entities through collaborative information-sharing and assessment.
View the Pre-session Reading Materials to have a better understanding of the topics that are covered during Session Three.
Session Three Recording
- Well, good morning. Welcome back, or perhaps welcome for the first time to the Northwest Food Coalition's Food Security Summit Series. My name is Mary Clewlow and I chair the operating committee of the coalition. We are presenting this Food Security Summit in collaboration with our wonderful partners, Michigan State University Extension, Food Rescue of Northwest Michigan, and Groundwork Center for Resilient Communities. We have financial support from rotary charities of Traverse City. Today is our third session and we will be considering how decisions are made to address the needs of those experiencing food insecurity. Recall in our first session, we learned about who in our region is food insecure. And then in our second session, we looked at what types of assistance are available. During the past few weeks in the news we've heard a lot about additional funding for community members who rely on governmental assistance, both at the federal and the state level. But as we learned in the last session that assistance plays such a considerable role in ensuring a stable supply of food in a household but it is not always sufficient. We are using a case study approach today to learn about factors that contribute to a myriad of decisions that impact programs in our region and probably will reveal the interconnectedness of those factors influencing the health of our community. We'll also consider the impact and availability of data sources to support and inform important daily, as well as strategic decision opportunities. Please remember the coalition's website has links to all the preread material as well as links to replay the previous sessions. Thank you to the individuals who work to plan and conduct this summit, as well as all of our presenters who provide such incredible insight. All of our presenters have been so wonderful and I think you'll really appreciate the great information our speakers will offer today. We'd like to thank you for your feedback, keep it coming, and thank you for committing to improving the health of our community by attending this summit. Now I'd like to introduce Val Stone the coalition coordinator, and then we'll move on to our speakers, Val.
- Good morning, everyone. Thank you, Mary. We're glad you could join us again today. Our coalition is actually made up of more than 46 pantries and 14 meals sites plus our baby pantries, and we cover six counties. Today you're gonna hear more about the partnerships that we have formed here that help all of us to feed our hungry people and also to promote healthy eating. You're going to hear about others in another state and what they've done to serve people in a large city. We have , Megan Olds, the founder and principal of Parallel Solution who has been working with our coalition in organizing this summit series. She's going to introduce and moderate our polls. She'll help you to partake in discussions and also questions and answers, Megan.
- Thank you, Val and Mary for that warm welcome. And thank you everyone who's made the choice to participate today. Before we kick off with our first speaker I do wanna invite you to take a look at the chat function. And we'd like to encourage you to use the chat function today on the Zoom call to chat with each other. As speakers and as a moderator we won't be monitoring the chat, but we would love for you just to introduce yourselves kind of let people know you're in the Room. And if you'd like, feel free to interact with each other using that chat feature today. We'd also like to invite you to use the Q and A button which is also at the bottom of your Zoom screen to share questions you may have for our speakers. So we'll have, as Val mentioned several case studies presented today as well as the speaker to kick us off. If you have questions for any of them we will be taking 20 minutes at the end of the session to have a moderated Q and A. So please share your feedback and questions there. I would like to introduce now our first poll of the day. So you'll see a poll up on your screen. We'd like to know what your level of awareness is regarding how data are used and how decisions are made to meet the needs of people experiencing food insecurity in our region. We'll take about 30 seconds to complete this poll. So please just select the option that best fits your experience and perspective here. All right, we'll take a five more seconds to complete the poll here. So if you haven't yet had a chance to pick an option go ahead and do that now. All right, I'll end the poll here and share it with you. It looks like 33% of you feel you're somewhat aware. 32%, not at all aware. 20%, moderately aware. 15% slightly aware. We hope you leave today with a greater sense of awareness and connection to the type of data and decisions being made in the community. Well, now I'd like to introduce our very first speaker. I'd like to introduce and welcome Erin Barrett. Erin is a public health planner with the District Health Department number 10. She is a certified health education specialist and she is the community coordinator for the Northern Michigan Community Health Innovation Region. They call that the CHIR. And as part of her work with the CHIR, Erin supported the development and current implementation of the MiThrive outcomes framework. Some information was included in your preliminary materials about that. Additionally, the CHIR is committed to increasing coordination and alignment across sectors, amplifying resident voice and resident power, and promoting health equity through a system policies and practices. Erin, we are so very honored to have you here today and we're excited to hear what you have to share.
- Thank you. I appreciate that introduction. And hi, everyone I'm very grateful to be a part of this summit today and to be with all of you. So in this presentation, I will be taking you through a cross-sector approach to data and decision-making. Next slide, please. So I'll start with a brief level setting slide for those of you who may be unfamiliar with the Northern Michigan Community Health Innovation Region also referred to as the CHIR. The CHIR is a collaboration of cross-sector partners and residents working together toward a shared community vision of healthy communities. And the CHIR is made up of three interconnected components, community connections, a clinical linkages model. MiThrive, a community health assessment, and systems change efforts for community health improvement. And together these three interconnected components address social determinants of health that the individual sector, community, and systems level. Next slide please. So in the CHIR's efforts to achieve a vision of healthier communities we have found some data gaps and obstacles. We found that a lot of agencies, organizations, and collaborative groups individually complete community health assessments and this provides an amazing opportunity to pool everyone's expertise and resources together for a collaborative community health assessment. We also know that our rural communities are not always captured on state level collection processes. And we also know that gaps exist between decision makers and those experiencing the impact of those decisions. And so in this presentation, I'll focus on approaches to addressing these gaps and obstacles through collaboration, coordination, and resident voice. Next slide please. So I want to start by talking about what does data look like? It seems like when we think about data we automatically think about numbers, bar charts and Excel spreadsheets. And this type of data is often referred to as quantitative data. So numbers and counts. And this type of information we generally can get from questionnaire, surveys, and polls. And quantitative data is great at providing us with the what, where, how, when and who. And the best friend to quantitative data is qualitative data. And this is where we begin to look beyond the numbers and look at the why. And we can get this information through observations, experiences, photos, and conversations. And this could be a formal conversation like an interview or an informal conversation you're having with a client in a lobby. And I say all of this to say that data is all around us and it's not just numbers, and we can all use data to inform our decision-making. Next slide please. So now I'll share with you about the MiThrive community health assessment as an approach to strengthening available data in our region. MiThrive is a regional, collaborative, community health assessment that uses the mobilizing action through planning and partnerships framework. And within this framework there are four assessments that use a comprehensive lens and community-based approach to identify, assess, and prioritize the most important health issues affecting our region. And MiThrive is made up of cross-sector partners, residents across 31 counties in Northern Michigan. And 2019 was actually the first year that MiThrive was completed, and moving forward it will be conducted every three years. And MiThrive data is open and available to all. The purpose of this data is not to sit on a shelf, but to be used in whatever way makes the most sense for you. Next slide please. So upon the completion of the 2019 MiThrive Assessment over 100 cross-sector partners in Northwest Michigan came together to develop the MiThrive Outcomes Framework based on data collected from the 2019 MiThrive Assessment. And specifically this framework serves as an overarching improvement plan to communicate shared community priorities and desired outcomes, track progress towards community goals, and allow for shared learning and course correction. Next slide please. So these are the six priority areas that were prioritized by residents and community partners across our 10 County region. And here you will see the link for the MiThrive Outcomes Framework website. And when you navigate to this website, you will find the MiThrive 2019 report and data, as well as the complete, MiThrive Outcomes Framework. Next slide please. So why is a collaborative community health assessment and outcomes framework important? They're important because we can build a shared language and understanding of outcomes across sectors. We can improve the standard and consistency of data collection and measurement. We can increase accessibility to quality local data to inform decision-making. And additionally, we can highlight how everyone has a role to play in improving our communities. Next slide please. So there are a lot of different ways to use the MiThrive Assessment data and the MiThrive Outcomes Framework based on your specific needs. And I've included a handful of examples on this slide. So you can use these to collaborate with others working on similar or intersecting issues. And by intersecting, I mean that if you're working in food security you would also want to connect with those working in transportation to align your efforts for greater collective impact. You can advocate for new data collection measures. So just because a data measure hasn't been collected in the past doesn't mean we can't collect it moving forward. You can fulfill your community health assessment requirements, or perhaps supplement your agency specific assessment. You can inform organizational strategic plans with this data and outcomes framework. You can support legislative advocacy efforts, as well as informed grant proposal development. Next slide please. So, so far in this presentation I've talked about two approaches to addressing data gaps and obstacles through collaboration and coordination. And I want to end this presentation by focusing in on the gaps that exist between decision-makers and those experiencing the impact of those decisions. So what do I mean by a gap in decision-making? Let's say I'm trying to implement a cooking class and I've pick the class to be from 1:00 to 2:00 PM because that into my schedule best and I'm the one implementing it. However, by making that decision on my own I haven't connected with the population I'm trying to reach to see if that time works best for them. Oh, next slide please. Sorry about that. Thank you. And so there might be factors outside of my understanding that would make a 1:00 PM time not a great time, and no one would be able to show up. So that's what I mean by a gap in decision-making. So, although I'm well-intentioned, I'm missing the mark by not getting any resident feedback to inform my decision-making. And far too often those making the decisions are not the same people as those who will be impacted by the decision whether that for a service, a program, classes, funding, or resources. And perhaps your organization or group already has a process in place where residents and clients play an active and equal role in decision-making. But if not, it can feel a bit daunting on where to start because essentially we're trying to rework the system to be resident-led versus well-intentioned community partners. And so on this slide, I've included some simple and tangible ways to begin collecting resident and client voice to inform your decision-making. And I'll preface by saying this list is not exhaustive and it just looks at one level of client and resident voice, and there's a ton of best practices out there if you're really looking to scale this work. So social media. If appropriate for your priority, population is a great way to poll followers about a new program idea or preferred service hours. If you're offering an in-person service, placing a comment box in an accessible location provides people the opportunity to give positive and constructive feedback on their experience. You could also add an open-ended question on your intake form about what they hope to get out of a service, or even feedback on the intake form itself. And you can also start jotting down your parking lot conversations. And what I mean by a parking lot conversation is any conversation that happens anywhere and organically. So this could also work for a drive-through service as well. So perhaps you have one simple feedback question that you're going to ask each person as they come through. And at the end of the day, volunteers and staff can have a conversation about what they heard from clients. It can really be that simple. So all of this resident and client feedback that you're gathering is data. And with this new data that you're collecting you can begin to adapt your services, programming, and decision-making processes. And again, this does not have to be a huge policy or procedure shift right away. Start small, and then continue to find ways to check in, pilot ideas and adjust as needed, and then build off of those wins. Next slide please. So that's all I have for today. Thank you so much for taking the time to listen to my presentation. I've provided my contact information. If you want to connect and chat, I would love to do that. So thank you so much. I appreciate it.
- Thank you, Erin. Thank you for in 10 minutes, taking us from such a big picture lens all the way down to providing practical tools and approaches people can use to gather data related to their own programs and services. Just as a reminder to everyone, Erin will be joining us later for the Q and A. And I noticed there was already one question in the Q and A box for her. If you have other questions for Erin please do include them in the Q and A box. And we will look forward to welcoming you back here at the end of the session. Thanks, Erin. I have a second poll to launch for all of you. You'll see another box come up on your screen here. We'd like to learn a little more about your role, how you see your role in decision-making. So please select the option that best describes your role related to data and decision-making, related to food security. We'll take 30 seconds or so to complete the poll here. You can select all that apply for this option. So if you play multiple roles or wear multiple hats you can select multiple choices. And we'll just take 10 more seconds here to complete the poll. Okay, I'm gonna go ahead and end the poll now and share the results with you. So it looks like 46% of you said you use data to educate others about needs. 32% said you're responsible for making decisions about how to manage programs or services or where to allocate resources. 28% said responsible for gathering data to inform decisions. 30% not involved in using data or decision-making processes. 20% informed after decisions are being made. 15% share data preferences and information about services. Thank you so much. It's helpful to know who's in the Room and how you're involved in these types of processes. I have the honor now of welcoming our very first case study presenters. We have three different case study presenters today, or teams of them. So I'd like to welcome Taylor Moore and Christina Barkel to please turn on their cameras so I can introduce them. Welcome, good morning. Taylor Moore is joining us as the manager of Food Rescue from Northwest Michigan which is a program of Goodwill Northern Michigan. Taylor, is a culinary graduate and he holds the bachelor's degree in sociology and political science with a focus on social policy. He's led Food Rescue's transition in adapting systems change practices to address food insecurity and food waste. Since Taylor joined the team in 2015 Food Rescue has prioritized access to healthy food by increasing services and connection with local farmers through its healthy harvest program, the Northwest Food Coalition's Farmer 2 Neighbor Program, Groundworks Local Food Relief Program, and most recently assisting the Area Agency on Agings USDA produce distribution. And you heard from Darcy Brewer at the last session who discussed that program a bit. Taylor understands an equitable food system to be a primary function of sustaining and improving one's sense of belonging in a community. Taylor, thank you for joining us today.
- It's my pleasure to be here.
- Christina Barkel is also joining us. Christina is the food equity specialist at Groundwork Center for Resilient Communities. And she holds a bachelor of arts in the program in the environment with a focus on environmental justice from the University of Michigan. Christina found vegetables for community supported agriculture programs, farmer's markets and schools prior to landing at Groundwork where she uses her farming experience to build systems that support local farmers and connect fresh healthy local foods to food pantries and meal sites across the region. Christina, thank you so much for being with us today.
- You're welcome. Happy to be here.
- Great, well, I'm gonna turn it over to the two of you now for your presentation.
- Yeah great, thank you. So I will share my screen real quick. Again, so happy and excited to be here today. So I'm gonna lay the groundwork for the purchasing committee, and tell one of the stories of how we got to this point. What data we used, what decisions needed to be made. And Christina's gonna talk to you about more of the details of how the food purchasing committee makes decisions. So where we need to start first is the Northwest Food Coalition. So here you have a map of the food pantries, meal sites, and baby pantries that comprise the Northwest Food Coalition. Their mission is to achieve regional food security, they have in a group for over 25 years led by Val Stone. So the Northwest Food Coalition members are who Food Rescue serves. In this map you see the routes that we drive every week. The majority of our work is picking up food from grocery stores, farms, bakeries, food that would otherwise go to waste or excess food. And we distribute that food out to these pantries and meal sites at no cost. But over the past two years, there's been this evolution and we've taken on more responsibility in the system by storing food, by repacking, sorting and then distributing that food with our partners in partnership with the Food Coalition. But what's important to note here is the routes, is this distribution network which has been leveraged so effectively by the food purchasing committee in order to increase access to healthy food. So the other key player in the purchasing committee is Groundwork, who has been essential in working to build a better food system in our region. And they have been a really important partner of the coalition, or Food Rescues, and with the purchasing committee, Christina Barkel works for Groundwork. But also Megan McDermott director of programs has facilitated these meetings in a way that's really made a difference. So I wanted to include that. Thank you, Megan. So the purchasing committee is a committee of the Northwest Food Coalition, and it consists of seven members. All told it's nine different nonprofits who work together to purchase healthy food. That is the mission. That's the purpose of the purchasing committee, is to buy healthy food. And the food that's mainly bought is produce from local farms. And the purchasing committee that we're talking about today is really the one that came out of the challenges and opportunities presented by the pandemic. I wanna take a step back and talk about the how and the why. So how did we get here? What data was used? And that starts with the "Food Security Report" authored by Chris Thomas in 2014 which provided just an incredible amount of data as to what was going on in our region. 421 people were interviewed for this report. 52 pantries were surveyed. And it really gave us an understanding of what the needs were in the community. And it also presented a whole host of ideas of the ways that we can best address food insecurity. And it made it an important claim to that we have the resources we need, we just need to start fitting these pieces together. And these pieces were really mapped. In 2017, Mary Clewlow, Michelle Warden, and Michelle Northrup started looking at the entire system and looking at the leverage points based on the question of how can we best meet the nutritional needs of people going to the food pantries. And what they found was that by increasing access to healthy food, that would have the greatest effect. And that was what we could best control. And so it's with this data in the systems mapping, the systems approach that we started to see change. We started moving from being opportunistic to more strategic. So 2018, the Farm 2 Neighbor program had started at the coalition, Val Stone was putting in the first orders for purchases from local farms. And then that same year too, we came together for rotary charities grant to really increase our capacity to distribute more healthy food throughout the system, really coming together. And we've had an effect. So in 2014, when the pantries were surveyed only 13% had fresh fruits and vegetables available at the start of their food pantries for their clients, 13%. In a poll taken just two weeks ago, that number is now up to 68% of food pantries having food readily available. And 40% of those have six to 10 items of produce available. And our data backs this up too because on the Food Rescue side we've seen a double in the amount of food, 104% increase in the amount of healthy food that we have been distributing. But I wanna take one more step back, peel off one more layer, and talk about two of the key things that go into Food Rescue is decision-making. And I tell you this because this one I can not only speak best to myself, but also it might provide you the ability to translate some of the other details that Christina will be talking about into a larger context. So the first is equity. And what equity means to us in what we do is that we fairly distribute that food. And we've used data in order to create a more equitable system. So in 2015, Traverse City area was getting a lot of the food. And the outlying counties were not. And so we've worked using data to start moving food out into these outlying counties. And the effect of that has been being out in a farm country more often around more farms, visiting more pantries more often. Equity has built capacity. And then interdependence. And this is at the basis of all the decisions. Is this understanding that we can't do our work without the food pantries and vice versa. We, at Food Rescue are not a food pantry, we do not serve families and individuals. We rely, we depend on the food pantries to get that food out. So ultimately a decision made at Food Rescue affects the pantries and vice versa. And it's this interdependence, I think, that has really assisted in the purchasing committee. So I have the pleasure of handing it off now to Christina Barkel. Thank you.
- Thanks, Taylor. So I'll jump in here and set the stage for how our collective purchasing model was established and how it continues to operate now. So the Northwest Food Coalition leadership is a volunteer effort, and in 2019 the need for a pay to purchase coordinator for Farm to Neighbor became clear. And that's when I was hired at Groundwork, where part of my role was to support the coalition in the development of that program. Prior to the pandemic, members of the operating committee formed an ad hoc group to advise and review the purchases made. But the purchasing committee, as it functions now, officially convened after COVID arrived in March, 2020. So at that time, there was a lot of uncertainty for all of us. Restaurants, farmer's markets, schools, all of those community places shut down. People lost their jobs. The economy was tanking. And at the same time, we were all encouraged to prepare for periods of quarantine by having two weeks of food on hand, as well as cleaning supplies, masks, and gloves. And of course, a lot of toilet paper. All of these circumstances led to panic buying and bare shelves at the store, strained supply chains, and the threat of increased food insecurity in our region. It was in this environment that Groundwork launched the Local Food Relief Fund. A tremendously successful crowdfunding campaign that raised $30,000 in one day. And eventually just under $200,000 to be passed through to Northwest Food Coalition, Food Rescue and Manna food project for the purchase and distribution of locally produced food. At the same time the coalition applied for and received emergency funding to support the purchase of bulk, shelf stable or frozen goods to distribute to their membership. And many members of our community donated directly to the coalition during this time of crisis. For the first time the coalition had three distinct funds to use to buy food for the entire group, which you can see on the slide here. And each having their own purpose and their own guidelines. So in light of this tremendous outpouring of support, the coalition recognized the need to steward these resources responsibly for increased collective purchasing. This meant more intentional coordination in decision-making, and an opportunity for the coalition to collaborate with Groundwork and Food Rescue to create the purchasing committee as it operates today. So, as Taylor mentioned, the composition of the committee is intentionally representative of all of the different types of member sites that make up the coalition as a whole. And it also represents the collaborative structure that we have between all of the partners that support the coordination and distribution of the purchases. So you can see on the slide here kind of the constituent groups that make up the coalition and we seek to have a representative from each of these categories. And this structure is what makes our decision-making possible. We really couldn't do it without all of the members of our group. And I'm really glad for their time and their expertise and the unique perspectives that they all bring to the committee as we decide how to use these resources. So some nuts and bolts. The committee appoints two co-chairs for leadership which rotates, we meet via Zoom as you can see there as we all must do during these pandemic times. And the duties of the committee are outlined in a charter which was drafted with input from committee members and approved by the operating committee of the coalition. So now that you kind of have an understanding of the context and the structure of our committee, I'll explain how we gather data on the purchasing potential, prices, and opportunities, and how we use that information to make our decisions. So my role as the purchasing coordinator is to build relationships with farmers, food, producers, and other vendors so that we can understand what products are out there, when they're available and for what price. I'm also the person that places the orders. So I'm the one who calls up the farmer and says, "Yes, we'll buy your carrots." The members of the coalition and the purchasing committee inform me and others in the group about the types of food that worked best for their site. We consider pack size, quantities, types of fruit and vegetables, as well as what shelf stable items are favored or hard to access. The committee members let Taylor and I know what trends they're currently seeing too. Are people taking a lot of canned beans, for example, or are they totally sick of them? Do we need to buy more, or should we look for other protein sources? Questions like that. We use that information to establish lists of pre-approved products, pack sizes and price points. So you can see the list here for each fund there are different items that apply to each list. So there are about 10 produce items that the coalition members in general like, and can always use at their sites. Things like apples, potatoes, onions, things like that. They're about 15 shelf stable products. So things like peanut butter, pasta, canned beans, et cetera, on this list as well. And each item has a range of price points that the committee agrees would be acceptable to pay. These agreements from the guardrails are the boundaries that we use as part of our decision making structure. For the shelf stable products we relied on the knowledge of committee members who do their own buying at their sites to tell us what prices we should expect to pay and keep us updated on any trends or supply chain issues they're seeing. For the local produce we surveyed as many farmers as possible at the beginning of the season to get an idea what their price points and quantities could be over the course of the season. And I'm in constant communication with them so I can learn more about their plans as well as any challenges or setbacks they experience that could affect availability or price. We use that data to set price ranges and averages that guide our decision making process there. And we'll talk a little bit more about that later. So it's clear that we all love collaborating with each other, but if we needed a group of people to make decisions about each purchase every time we wouldn't get anything done. So we had to come up with a way to empower the purchasing coordinator to make decisions that are informed and pre-approved by the committee. We did this by setting up a tiered stoplight system which is outlined here with three categories that potential purchases fall into, green, yellow and red. Green purchase opportunities meet all of the pre-approved criteria from the committee. So they're on our approved product list, the price point falls within the correct range, there is a demand for the product, and Food Rescue is able to deliver. As long as Food Rescue has the capacity I can go ahead and purchase whatever items these are for the coalition with no additional input from the group. Yellow purchases meet some criteria, but not all. For example, the product could be on our list but the price point might be too high. If Food Rescue has the capacity to repack and deliver the food, I as the purchasing coordinator can proceed with an opportunity like this if I get some additional approval from the co-chairs of the committee. Their job is to be available by phone or email so I can reach them in a timely manner, present the opportunity and get the okay, or the, "No, I think we should pass on this." If the co-chairs disagree, we wait until the next meeting to discuss it with the whole group. And finally red purchases meet one or more but not all of our criteria. So Food Rescue always has to be able to distribute but maybe the product in question is expensive and it's not on our list. Maybe it's something complicated and the full committee input is required. Whatever the case, neither I nor the co-chairs have the authority to make the decision or move forward with the purchase without additional input from the whole committee. And I don't have to wait until our next meeting to bring up the opportunity. At each purchasing meeting, I present a report that clearly outlines the purchases we've made over the last week and detail any opportunities we have coming up. The meetings allow time for plenty of discussion and feedback that is necessary for us to proceed or course correct as needed. So it is this system that allows us the opportunity to navigate in a complex food system, the additional complexity of making decisions on behalf of a large group of food pantries and meal sites in a way that is representative, collaborative, and generative. So just to wrap up here I'll show you some examples and results of our efforts. This slide here shows the purchasing that we've done through funds from the COVID Crisis Fund. It's an incredible amount of food that we have been able to get to pantries at a time where supply chains have been disrupted, some things have been hard to get, and individual, pantries, and sites have had difficulty for many reasons acquiring their own food. And then the next slide is a photo of what some of those pallets of food look like at the Food Rescue warehouse. And then the next slide shows the local food purchasing data that we have. So for 2018 and 2019 those numbers reflect the Farm 2 Neighbor purchasing. And then the 2020 numbers reflect both the Farm 2 Neighbor purchasing, as well as the Local Food Relief Fund Purchasing there. So you can see our efforts have been fruitful and we've been able to get so much food to those in need in our community. I'm glad to be able to lend my time to this effort. Thank you to Taylor and Food Rescue, the coalition members and leadership, and to all of you listening for your time. I look forward to your questions. Thank you.
- Thank you, Christina and Taylor, for that perspective. it was really wonderful to hear about the focus on relationship building, and trust building, and listening that happened through your work together and also the way you've created decision-making structures and models to clarify people's roles in the process. We're looking forward to hearing questions you may have for those two presenters. Please feel free to put them in a Q and A box because the two of them will join us later at the end of the session for Q and A. I'd like to introduce now, Dan Buron Dan, is our next speaker. He's going to talk about Northwest Michigan's COVID-19 Food Assistance Inter-Agency Response. Dan is the executive director of Goodwill of Northern Michigan, which is a nonprofit social enterprise that operates nine retail and e-commerce businesses that support the vision of a community where everyone has a safe and secure place to live, where everyone has access to healthy food, and where the working poor have opportunities for training and advancement to family sustaining wages. Dan is a graduate of Gustavus Adolphus College in Minnesota with a BA in psychology, and a master's degree in public affairs from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. He has 20 years of leadership experience with Goodwill organizations throughout the US, and he is a longtime fan of the Northern Michigan region. And he moved here with his wife and two daughters in 2016. Dan, thank you for joining us today.
- Thank you Megan, for having me. I appreciate being here. So we know that each of our communities have individuals, families and children who do not have access to healthy affordable food that they need. We wouldn't be participating in these sessions if we didn't think that this was true. And this is not an acceptable situation. We don't believe it should continue and we don't want it to continue. We are compelled to act. But what does that look like? Well, it depends. When we take a step back from the day to day in the adaptive leadership parlance to move from the dance floor and go to the balcony. Next slide. When we were on the dance floor what we see is very different than what we see from the balcony. When you are dancing, you focus on your immediate surroundings. The music, your partner, those dancing around you. You're in the moment and reacting in the moment. When you retreat to the balcony and you observe the dance floor, you may observe that there are some people not dancing at all. And there appears to be departure of people from the dance floor when the music speeds up, or it gets louder. These are observations that you could not make when on the dance floor. This helps to have a clearer picture of what is really happening. In our day-to-day, we tend to focus on our activities. How much food was distributed, how many people received food. We may even know the demographics of who we have served. We focus on what is happening right in front of us. When we get to the balcony we see other things, we look at our how our distribution matches out with social economic profile of the communities we serve ike Taylor talked about. We look at our geographical clusters and changing demographics of people we serve. We look at how we can distribute more efficiently and effectively, depending on the trends we are seeing. Perspective matters. Depending where you are on the dance floor, whether you're on the dance floor, lower balcony, upper balcony, it impacts what you will see, what meaning you can drive. COVID-19 for many of us was disruptive. It caused confusion and uncertainty. What was once predictable and known was neither predictable nor known. Food supply was disrupted and misaligned for the changes needed to meet the needs of the pandemic. The system took a while to adjust, but finally it was able to shift. This disruption also had some benefits. It opened up some new possibilities and new conversations as you just heard. As a part of Goodwill, Food Rescue primarily works with Food Coalition that Taylor described earlier. In the beginning of the pandemic we expected there would be an influx of clients to the pantries. When it didn't happen we wondered why now as the main panties were open but we weren't seeing them show up at other pantries either. Next slide. Later in the year, we analyze this further in the scare of what we thought was happening was happening. Overall direction of the trend is the same as past years, but the baseline was down about 30%. As you can see on this chart here the bottom line is 2020. We realized that the increase in benefits and distribution by our local school districts was likely shifting people away from pantries that are likely to be the last resort for folks. Then they access other easier distribution systems instead. Our local school district was distributing prepared meals to families with kids through our very convenient dry above system. We realized that though we are critical part of food distribution. There is a larger system of food distribution that impacts our work. In other words, we need to get to the balcony and off to dance floor. Next slide. Out of this disruption we created a committee, for lack of a better term is called a COVID-19 Food Distribution Committee. So we all could understand how the overall system was working. We reached out to all the organizations that we were aware of, that were distributing food in the region or serve people who were food insecure. But they only knew each other, we had never met to discuss and around food distribution or food insecurity. We started meeting every two weeks and now we meet every month. So the Area Agency on Aging, the Northwest Food Coalition Food Rescue, Disability Network, Northern Michigan Community Health Innovation Region, otherwise known as the CHIR, TCAPS, which is our public school system. Groundworks which you heard about it earlier, United Way, and MCAA, which is our local agency. In the first meetings, we came to a general consensus that there were people in our community who did not have the food they needed to be healthy. And who did not know how to access the public food support system, or were unable to access it. How do we reach them? We quickly realized that we didn't have a clear point of entry for people wanting to access food. There were so many different programs, requirements, access challenges that we could not develop a single navigational process for people in need. Next slide. We realized that our best opportunity was in our existing access point for basic needs, which is United Way's 211. As it turned out 211 was UN campaign that became our broader community outreach. Although we did recognize that the issue was not resolved yet. In fact, it created more questions than answers. Taking this step back, getting to this higher balcony, at this higher level... Taking a step back, getting to this higher balcony, this higher level, looking at overall our government and nonprofit food distribution process. Beyond the efforts of our own organization we've become to appreciate how complicated and fragmented it is. It depends on eligibility, age, income, geography, your ability to access transportation and your time availability to access food. It also depends on what food is available to distribute, not necessarily what you need at the time you need it and in the format you need it. We have made efforts to customize our food distribution to account for the different dietary, religious and cultural needs. In our pilot programs to get at this it is still quite limited. Next picture. Overall, this distribution system is totally different experience than most of us have getting food. We can get food online, at grocery stores, farmer's markets, co-ops, restaurants. We can almost get any food we want at any time we want it. Sometimes it's based on supply like we experienced during the beginning of the pandemic. But that tends to be the exception rather than norm. With our ability to get food any time we want, but that's not always a good thing. In essence, we have a demand driven food system. What is demanded becomes available. If we want to . We want twinkie cereal, although I'm not sure who needs this. The store gets twinkie cereal. Next slide. Actually my wife asked if this is a real thing, and it actually is a real thing. It's hard to believe though. Our group continued to evolve and started to focus on another simple. We thought simple, but turned out to be a complicated set of questions. How much food is distributed to the publicly supported system in our area? How does it change over time? If it does, what does that mean? How does food distribution in one area affect food distribution in another. We all use different ways of measuring. There was no way to determine one measure. So we settled on using whatever measures each organization is using. And we recruit liked items to create a trend graph, very imperfect, and only useful for trend analysis. But it was a start and we have only banana for a few months. To keep it simple for now we focus only on Grand Traverse County for all the data collection. Next slide. This chart has food distribution both by pounds and people served. The data does overlap in some cases. The direction is trend is what is relevant. At this point we don't see anything of interest. The data we use is from the Food Coalition, Food Rescue, Meals on Wheels, Commodity Surplus Food program, Emergency Food program, and the Grand Traverse Meal sites. Next slide. For some agencies, they don't distribute food but they coordinate the distribution of food on a one-to-one basis. This helps us to better understand where people access to food system. The data here is used from the CHIR, or food pathways that are opened, United Way 211, Disability Network. We're looking to include more partners in this and looking at including United Way 211 online and text access as well. Next slide. The trend here has been consistent. Although if we compared it to last year is quite a bit higher. The changes in eligibility and amount provided impacts how the rest of the food distribution system is used. It is much easier to shop yourself for the food you need when you need it. As we know there have been some issues during the pandemic to you use food stamps online to pickup services, but that has been improving. Next slide. I found this slide fascinating. Until I created this I had no idea that total amount of food stamps available in our area. It's about a million dollars a month. We would need to also include... To take that's really relevant, we would need to also include when there are policy changes so we can clarify the meaning of the trends. In any case, this trend directly impacts the rest of the system. They're also looking at other indicators that may also suggest an increase in need by tracking the number of clicks on the Northwest Food Coalition find food website. Other things came out of this meeting as well. We understood each other better, each other's capacities and strengths. We shared what we have learned, what we we're experiencing, what we we're seeing from our vantage point whether it was down the dance floor, the balcony, or directly from those with lived experience. Some great partnerships resulted as well. Next slide. For example, Food Rescue helped the Area Agency on Aging deliver food to needy seniors, to 10 sites throughout Northern Michigan. It's our first time we had distributed food outside the pantry system. And certainly the first time we had distributed food to be Beaver Island. This airplane I asked you was used... AAA was able to secure a plane to actually bring the food over to Beaver Island. This apprenticeship has continued to strengthen since that time, and expect the partnership to extend beyond the pandemic. Other partnerships emerged not related to food between the AAA and Area Agency in aging and United Way. And we expect others as well. Next slide. Our long-term goal for the public food support system. We wanna make it accessible. Families, individuals who are food insecure can access support. The right food. The families and individuals able to receive the right food. The nutrition, the quantity, is able to adjust for allergies, medical and health needs, religious and cultural needs as well. We are able to get it at the right time and frequency. But is there a schedule? Do you need delivery? Do they need to be able to do it in the evenings and the weekends? The right format. As we learned when TCAPS, our school system distribute food that was already made, a lot more people were interested in getting food that way. So we're looking at what type or format do people need food in to truly access to healthy food? Do they need the food to be raw or prepared? Although this is a difficult time, this crisis has brought us together, and we believe our work will have a longer term impact of reducing hunger and food insecurity in our community. We all have a role to play in reducing food insecurity in our communities. The balcony dance floor is a leadership analogy but it also applies organizations. Our organizations analogy ties to how resources of time, talent, and funds are used. The further away from the dance floor we go, the less direct control we have, and more than needed for building partnerships, influencing, nudging, and supporting the success of other organizations. How do we then balance accountability for our direct work or activities that are measurable and understandable, and ones our board and funders understand without larger impact and responsibility to reducing food insecurity in our community. Unfortunately, I don't have answers to these questions but we are going to continue on our journey together to figure out how we can balance these competing priorities and develop a robust system of ensuring no one goes without the food they need to be healthy. Thank you.
- Thank you so much, Dan. And thank you for sharing both about the outcomes of your process together with the food assistance group, and also the process of continuing to learn together and your process of continuing to ask the next elegant question that you're trying to solve. So we really appreciate your perspective today. If you have questions for Dan, participants, please do include your questions in the Q and A. Dan will be joining us later for that facilitated Q and A session. I am going to welcome our next case study speakers here now. We have two case study speakers who are joining the us from the Des Moines area religious council. So I'm going to ask Matt Unger and Daniel Beck to go ahead and please turn on your video at this time. Matt Unger... Hey, Matt. Matt is the CEO of the Des Moines area, religious council. He's been there since July, 2019. Matt came to DMARC after a six plus year tenure at the Food Bank of Iowa, where he was a program manager and then served as the chief operating officer. His leadership at the Food Bank included the implementation of three new programs, a merger with the Food Bank of Southern Iowa, and oversight of the Food Bank's warehouse remodel. Prior to joining the nonprofit sector, Matt spent more than a dozen years working in the world of political campaigns and management of state government. His political career spanned multiple Iowa caucus campaigns, Iowa gubernatorial campaigns, and a four year stint as chief of staff to Lieutenant Governor Patty Judge. Judge and Unger then partnered in a consulting firm BJJ Solutions where they focused, not just on political campaigns but also on business and organizational strategy as well as public policy. Matt's originally from Wisconsin and he had a stint in Illinois. But he has called Des Moines home for the last 25 years. Matt, thank you for joining us here today all the way from the Iowa.
- Thanks, happy to be here.
- Thank you. And Daniel Beck is also joining us from DMARC. Daniel Beck is the data analytics and program coordinator for DMARC. He's been there since 2010 in different roles as the organization has evolved. He's been serving in the data analytics and program coordinator role since 2013. Daniel's education background includes certifications as a nutritionist and a fitness wellness consultant which fits well with his work involving fitness and wellness with the food pantries. He's a passionate advocate for equity of nutrition and lifestyle choices for under assisted communities that have long been deprived of affordable choices to improve family health and wellness. Daniel in his capacity at DMARC was one of the developers of DMARC's health incentive, their pantry 2.0 model. And he is here to talk about data today. Thank you both for joining us. I will turn the presentation over to you.
- All right, I think Daniel's gonna share a screen here. Data is critically important to the work we do at DMARC. And we're gonna dive into that a little deeper here in a minute. But first I kind of wanted to level set and give you a little bit more information about our organization, what we do and kind of how we look at things. Next slide Daniel, please. So our organization is based in a foundation in collaboration. We are an interfaith organization made up of more than 200 partners that come from five different faith tradition backgrounds around meeting the mission of meeting human needs in the greater Des Moines area. So it really, over the 70 year history of the organization it's kind of evolved and changed over time. One of the first things that happened was a housing project that was put together in Des Moines with partnerships by the groundwork for hospice in central Iowa, and some programming for folks who lost a spouse recently. But really the heart of what we've done as an organization since 1976 was our food pantry network. We do still do some interfaith programming, and if you'd be interested in that, take a look at our website, there's a lot of great information about that. But I really we wanna focus on our food pantry network today. Next slide, Daniel. So this shows you a little bit about our footprint in greater Des Moines which our metro area is about 700,000 folks. We have 14 permanently placed pantries, and another 31 pantries that are served by mobile units which if you imagine a trailer for a NASCAR, we've taken those and retrofitted them to be kind of mini grocery stores inside. So at any one of those, we are based on three pillars versus providing a dignified experience for the clients in need of assistance. We try to make sure that we have as close to a shopping model that you would have at a grocery store as possible. The second is a prioritization of healthy foods with a specific emphasis on providing fresh produce. And our clients are able to access any of those places one time a month to get a three to four day supply of sort of their staple groceries, but they can come any time to receive fresh produce, perishables, and some of the Food Rescue that we pick up. And then of course, our third pillar around what we do is our commitment to data both collecting and analyzing it. We have an intake process across our network that allows us to share and analyze data in ways that others really can't. So we ask some demographic questions, some kind of contact info type questions. But we also dig a little bit deeper and try to find out a little bit more about the instances that folks are facing. So we can tell that broader story about what food insecurity looks like in our region. Next slide, Daniel. So through our intake, we've also created a dashboard, and Daniel's gonna walk you through both of these. But on this dashboard, we can take the information coming from our intake and plot it on a map. So we can show you demographic data by various geography. We can look at geographic data, a number of different community data points. What kind of mobility there is in the network as far as where someone lives versus which pantry they're attending and getting assistance from. And then we also use that data in a number of other ways to look at where we might wanna make some creative partnerships. Where are the gaps that we need to fill in the community as far as access to service or specific populations? And of course, the biggest piece of what we do with data is using it in an capacity for advocacy. So Daniel is gonna walk you through. We found the best way to kind of show what we can do is to actually walk you through the software. And I'm gonna turn it over to Daniel to take a deeper dive into that. One thing I wanted to mention quick, if you have Q and A add that into the Q and A for the broader questions. If you have smaller kind of processy type questions, if you wanna put those in the chat, I'll try to answer those as we go along. Daniel, I'll kick it to you.
- All right, thank you very much, Matt. And so yes, as Matt talked about he will be sort of hanging out in the Q and A just to address any smaller questions that may come up that otherwise we may address some questions at the end of this session. I am gonna be giving sort of the briefest overview I can possibly give into some of this. So I do apologize that I'm moving a little quickly. As Matt talked about, our intake process has really... It's the start of what we do to collect, engage, gather data. As he talked about it we started our food pantry work in 1976 as an organization. It wasn't until about 2009 that we actually started making an effort to get all of our food pantries at that point onto a unified database. And it sort of culminated in about 2010, 11 when we finally had everybody doing live digital intake, computer intake, that was no longer on index cards or anything like that. So with that as the focus of the intake process, getting everybody to collect unified data, we were able to start laying the groundwork for the data work that we do. So I'm gonna be discussing, not only some of the data that we do collect and what we've seen, but also the sort of realms of what we do with it, which include thing especially outreach for clientele, specifically identifying who we're helping and if we're sort of missing any segments of the population and how we can move forward with that. Also programming decision-making as DMARC as an organization, and then also advocacy. I'm gonna be sort of just weaving those in as we go along here but also just pointing out data that we are seeing now. So you're seeing, going back to July, 2012 is our network usage, and you can see the sort of peak of every... Every single highest peak you see here is every November. I'm sure this is a very common thread that a lot of people see November being the busiest month of the year. And then all the dips you see here every February, every February being the slowest month of their year. And then of course there's COVID starting, well really March, but April 2020 is when a lot of this sort of closures and emergency measures happened. And we will discuss that some too. Everybody has thoughts about COVID and has seen oddities and their use during COVID I'm sure. I'm gonna jump over to the chart on the other side here, and you see that it's the same data looking at year on top of year, except this time we're able to see the actual monthly trends. So you can see February always the lowest month, November always the highest month. Going back to November, 2019... Excuse me, November, 2020 which was our busiest month of all time. Excuse me, November 19, November 20 was COVID. One of the really interesting things in looking at the graph in this manner is just an example, not well aside from starting in April, 2020. But an example of the immediate effect we see on decisions and how it affects our advocacy work specifically is if you look at January, 2019 and January, 2018, if you recall correctly, January, 2019 we had a government shutdown happening. In that case what happened was that there was not much confidence that food stamps, that the Food Assistance program would be loaded correctly in February. So what they did was front load to February, and what we saw was an immediate dip in usage. We had been seeing records every single month every single year, and then suddenly one month change in this one policy and we see a dip in our usage. And then of course, February, 2019 we see this massive spike because then those funds had pretty much been exhausted. So that was really interesting for us to see in terms of advocacy in terms of policy because it was no longer just kind of a theoretical people who get food assistance do not need to use the food pantries often. And it was an immediate view that we were able to see. And then of course, like I said, the pandemic and what we've seen during that time, and that's a whole separate story which I'm sure we can talk about it in the Q and A. I'm gonna jump over to our mapping which is kind of the flagship of what we do with the visualization dashboard here. And I'm gonna try to load stuff as little as possible here because my dashboard is freezing a little bit today. But what you're gonna see, and for one thing I do apologize, I'm used to talking to people about this mapping that are somewhat familiar with the Des Moines area. I understand a lot of you may not be, so I'll sort of delve in a little bit what we're seeing here as far as the geographic areas. This is the usage in our network in December, 2020 alone. So again, a relatively slow month considering the pandemic going on. But this is what the use of it looks like in a single month. The size of the dot here is the actual size of the households. You can see some really large dots, probably a household of eight or nine or 10. And you see some thoughts that are nearly impossible to see. That represent household of one or two. I should also specify, even though, again not you all are not in the Des Moines area. These dots are not exact locations. What we've done is moved up to 200 meters in any random direction just for an added layer of confidentiality. That's why you see some dots like on a bridge or in a river or something. So this is a gauge, but it is not literal locations. Kind of the most stunning thing to see here, again, not familiar with the Des Moines area. We expect to see usage in East Des Moines, South Des Moines, the density is higher in those areas as would be expected if you know the demographics of the city. But the shocking thing to see is West Des Moines, Windsor Heights, the Western suburbs, the Northern suburbs, really branching out a long way here, Way out we've got to zoom out here a little bit. So you can see just the reach that we actually have. You see the dots are 60, 70, 80 miles away in some cases. There is usage everywhere. And again, this is just reflective of our small food pantry network, the 14 food pantries and the mobile pantries that we get this enormous reach. Part of the way this really helps in decision-making, I'm gonna put up our food pantries. These are the actual physical food pantry locations. This is very, very effective in identifying possible pockets of need that may be hard to address. For example, this flag right here you see is our busiest food pantry. It's basically serving the entirety of South Des Moines. So this is helpful for us in putting up our show of the flags for our mobile locations where we can try to sort of fill in gaps and see, we've got these large areas where geographically or physically they're not very close to assistance. Not very close to a food pantry. So we're able to identify where can we go into try to sort of alleviate some of that pressure. By the same token, we can look at things like bus routes. And again, focusing on this one pantry, our busiest pantry which just for a reference is typically around 200 individuals per open day. We could see that's not actually on a bus route. So we're again, setting up mobile pantries, we're doing what we need to do to get pantries to get resources allocated near public transportation for example, so people don't have to carry 30 or 40 or 50 pounds of food a mile walk or whatever they have to do that way. So again, the mapping here is really effective for looking at individual locations. It's also effective for looking at demographics. Again, we do this relatively basic intake and extrapolate a lot of information from it. You can see some of the questions we ask are race and ethnicity, income source, employment status, education, whether or not they get food stamps, food assistance. Again, I'm gonna try not to load too much right now 'cause I'm afraid it'll crash on me. But for example, we can look at age range. for people to see. If I'm looking at minors only, keep in mind what we're looking at here is just over 16,000 unique individuals in one month. If I load just minors, and this'll just take a few seconds here. What you're gonna see is over 5,400 unique individuals. So we are almost always talking about 1 1/3, 33 to 35% And in fact, the vast majority of who we assist using all the demographic data we collect are minors, they're below working age, they're above working age, And again, that's part of this, the intake that we do we're able to figure out this information, especially in our advocacy work to dispel some of the more sort of harmful or malicious myths about a food pantry network where the sort of common thought for some people as you know, maybe these people we're assisting are lazy or whatever the case is. We know that's just not true with the data we collect. We're able to talk to policy makers, whoever, and say this is factually incorrect and we have the data to back it up. So again, just kind of small window into what we're able to do with some of the mapping. I'm also gonna jump over to... And you can see that the lineup of mapping we have here, the house districts, the Senate districts, the city zip codes. I'm not gonna go over all of them, but we've got these overlays We can look at our usage. So I'm just gonna jump over to the house map as an example. Again, you're looking at the same data here, December of 2020. But let's say we're meeting with representative Ruth Ann Gaines. We can actually zoom into her network, her district, and not only look at the... Again, the gauge of location for where the usage is, but we can also if I just select this specific district, we can see these specific demographic data that we're talking about as compared to the network as a whole. So on this side, you can see in representative Ruth Ann Gaines district, the age range, race and ethnicity, gender, whether or not they get food assistance snap. Again, I know I'm limited on time so I'm not gonna go over all of this in detail, for specific districts, specific age ranges, demographics as compared to network especially for things like food assistance snap because that's such a huge priority So beyond the mapping, we can also... I'm just gonna jump over to another section here. A large part of what we do with programming in decision-making involves collaborative efforts. but also doing as much as we can with publicly available datasets or in some cases private datasets that we're able to sort of sign off on confidentiality agreements to see what we can do with them to tell a full picture of the story. In the food pantry network we know a lot of who were assisting also get, for example, Whether we're looking at medical costs, anything like that, where we wanna be able to show the entire picture. Not just food pantry usage, but the sort of picture of poverty in the area. What I'm gonna show you here just an example of something we did, sort of this was kind of our first attempt at integrating our data with a publicly available dataset. In this case, American community survey data. What you're looking at on the vertical axis is actually the DMARC council individuals per census tract. Each bubble is a census tract. And what you're looking at on the horizontal axis is median rent as a percentage of household income. So basically the further right a bubble moves the higher percentage of their income they're paying for housing. The higher up a bubble moves, the more individuals DMARC sees within that census track. So I'm gonna just put this in motion. What you're looking at is 2014, and I'm gonna put it in motion through the most current ACS data, which in this case is the end of 2019. Unfortunately, they only do it every two years. I'll just play this quickly. And you can see it's pretty telling, in this case for us it was kind of like a dah statement. Like of course, that the higher percentage somebody's paying in housing probably the more likely that there is that that area, that census track or that census block is gonna need to increase food pantry usage. But it's just a really good visual way to represent this data when you're looking at a very clear correlation, I don't wanna say causation, but correlation between median rent and food pantry usage. And of course there are dozens Like I said, childcare costs, whatever the case is. But this was just a good example for us of taking something publicly available, overlaying it with our data, and being able to tell a very sort of concise but meaningful story. So again, I know I'm kind of running short on time already. I'm happy to answer questions showing our decision-making, our advocacy for our clientele, as well as legislative advocacy. Data plays a role in basically every decision we do on a day-to-day basis.
- Great, well, thank you, Daniel and Matt for that overview. I know that was a lot to cover, a lot of ground to cover in a short amount of time. But it was really great to learn more about your data development process, the ways you're using it, the impact it's having, and also just seeing that visualization of the data too with the maps and the graphs you're able to share, it really helps tell the story of what's happening in the community related to needs and the impacts of decisions that are made about services and policy. We're looking forward to addressing everyone's questions now. So I'm going to invite all of our speakers and panelists to please join us in the Room here. And I'm going to take the questions in the order they were delivered and shared from the Q and A box. So welcome everyone back again everyone. She says she's concerned and wondering why we're seeing such a drastic drop in numbers of folks served during the pandemic. And she's hoping people are not doing without. Are there any suggestions about how to reach them and get any answers. If anyone would like to take a step-
- I'll take a first stab at that. of assistance that sprung up right at the beginning of the pandemic. a lot of our school systems provided food, but also we had supplemental food stamps, we had supplemental unemployment. So people utilized those resources. And we really discovered that the pantries were a place of last resort, we think for individuals. But there was a lot... Just so much community help.
- amplify that. Yeah, go ahead.
- Sorry, yeah, just, just one thing I wanted to quickly mention. Yes, we've seen all these and I'm sure this is nationwide, hopefully worldwide, but not only the the other assistance programs, churches, schools, community engagement stepping up to help out. Just as an example of how that effect we see, the two slowest months we have seen that the majority of the stimulus tax were disbursed. So it's just like another good example of the immediate effect we see with income flow
- One other quick point I'd make on that. We've seen the drop is in sort of those folks who are maybe kind of teetering right on the edge of food insecurity, and they were able to get these other assistance where we still saw a huge number of clients that came into the network for the first time ever. Early on in the pandemic, that number was running as high as 30% of those seeking assistance in our network when that number usually on a typical month for us runs around six, seven percent.
- Also, I'd just like to come in too. Because we live in a tourist area, the weather plays a big role. And also the closing of so many of our restaurants and just having to go to takeout has made a big impact on it, either up or down.
- And quickly I'll add regarding the gaps, Dan mentioned or has been spent some time on this coalition group that we have, that we are targeting, one of our goals is to understand our gaps. In the interim a good example was the flight over to Beaver Island. We've been looking the area aging that we are partnered with to understand if people need more food delivery to their homes for the homebound, so we are trying to fill those gaps as they arise.
- Great, thank you. I'm going to move on to another question here. And I think this one might be for you, Christina. It's from Mary Beth Sellers. And the question is, is there a possibility that as restaurants open will the amount of farmers having a supply diminish?
- Yeah, this is a great question, Mary. I'm glad you posed it. of what we're trying to do making the connections between farmers and the Northwest Food Coalition for fruits and vegetables, and also working with farmers so that they can grow the food that is most used and most needed by food pantries when all of the restaurants shut down, it was really useful for the farmers to have the coalition be able to step in and say, "We're planning on selling this food to the restaurants that are closed. Now we can take it." Now that we're kind of in the seasonal low, I anticipate that as restaurants started opening up again now it won't affect the purchasing that the coalition is doing so drastically. But part of what moving this food purchasing into a long-term more sustainable program will be figuring out how to work with farmers to get the crops that the pantries can use that are maybe fancier or more desirable for that restaurant market,
- Great. Thank you, Christina. We have another question here related to restaurants and it's, "Have you been able to work with any local restaurants to make meals that could be distributed to those in need in a community?" I don't know, Val or Taylor, if you have any responses to this question.
- Yeah, I'll go. So no, we have not, Food Rescue we've not distributed any food to restaurants. We're working with our meal site partners, in many ways the Goodwill Inn is a good example of they increased their services and we're providing more meals. So we're working with them, and we've been able to manage distributing the food out to the partners that we've already had. There hasn't necessarily been a need.
- kind of adding on to Taylor's point is I think what we've found with the pandemic process is that we kind of, instead of creating new new structures, is that we enhanced and developed the ones that we currently had in place. So we did the the food prep places. Some cases weren't able to distribute the food because of the pandemic, but then we partnered in different ways so they could get the food out to people that need it and can do it in a safe way. We do some work with churches and our local shelter. So I think that with the pandemic a lot is to do a tries is a way to do it efficiently and get it done quickly.
- Great, thank you for that response. We have another question here from Tom Emily, and I think this may be a question for, well anyone locally who's involved in our food system. The question is, "Is there something comparable to DMARC an Interfaith Council or network in Northwest Michigan?" This is listed perhaps as a question for Pastor Jane Lippard who participated one of our earlier sessions, but I'm wondering if any panelists here has a response to share.
- I'll say that the coalition is made up of numerous pantries, many are faith-based. for all of our pantries to work together in our meal sites, in our baby pantries. Then speaking, Dan, you might wanna touch on this. We're looking to then extend the collaborative effect. And the pandemic, I think, has really spurred on the need for that as Dan had discussed. In your comments, Dan, you might wanna elaborate. But helping to launch from there about all this partnering and sharing of information.
- Yeah, and I think we certainly see the great possibility and it was great seeing Dan and Matt's presentation. I mean, I think give us something to aim for. What a great, comprehensive, just the ability to do analysis, I think all of us can dream about. So I think there's a lot of potential there. of how it was possible for a dispersed an diverse group of people to be able to work together and be able to use data and make decisions.
- Great. Thank you. So this is a question I believe for Mary and Val. The question is from... It says, "Echoing an earlier question. How is it determined the way to use funds to the coalition? Specifically, do all partners or members benefit? And can you explain how so?
- Now, I'm happy to answer that question. So when donations do come in, if they're designated they go into one of our three pots And then because we had other money that we are able to allow that to build up a little bit. our coalition members will say, it's probably time we can use that money and then split up into those... Giving a check to those who need it most. It's pretty unusual to have as large amount of money in some of our funds, but because prices are higher than normal we're seeing it's more expensive to be able to buy fruits and vegetables and even shelf stable goods. So we've been able to do a good job of that, but all of our decisions are made by coalition members.
- Thank you, Val. And we do have just one more question here in the Q and A, and then we'll wrap things up for the day. And Taylor this is a question for you, I believe. And I think it's a yes or no answer. Although you may want to elaborate.
- I was just typing in the answer. The answer is yes, we do have adequate cold storage. And it's a very timely question because I just sent an email to Jill Nottke who owns Grand Traverse Cold Storage. And they have donated a lot of space for the USDA Farmers 2 Families needs that we were receiving. There was just massive quantities of chicken and pork, and they've really helped us, so we could take in as much food as possible. And we still have pallets there. So the answer is, yes, we're lucky to have a cold storage facility in the area.
- Thank you. Thanks for that question and response. We do have one more where we'd like to get your feedback today before we end our session.
- I'm sorry. Do you mind if I answer one question ?
- Oh, go ahead, Daniel. Yeah, absolutely, please jump in.
- I just saw this was asked in the chat. was sort of we see people driving a long way to get food pantry assistance, and sort of what is the reason for that? It's any number of reasons. Matt, sort of answered this a little bit. Of course, there are supportive services or shopping or jobs that bring people into the Des Moines area from further away. We also know anecdotally There is still a very very large and sort of debilitating stigma associated with getting food pantry assistance. And especially we see this in rural communities, we're trying to actively do outreach and place know data collection locations in rural communities where we're trying to actively We know talking to people that and the food pantry there is a church, they don't want their car to be seen at set church to see that people know they're getting assistance. into the Des Moines area just so they can be more relatively anonymous when they're getting assistance. So it's messaging, we're trying to address to say, "It's okay." We're trying to improve the aesthetic and the environment of the food pantries across the board to make sure it's a dignified experience. So that's really something, I think an important point to make from that one question.
- Great, thank you very much for seeing that in the chat. That's a really important perspective to share.
- Megan, just to share one other thing a minute before we take our final poll. What I heard Taylor say was about donated freezer space. I noticed in the pant participant list quite a few of our donors, Steve, from community foundation, we've got rotary charities involved with us, our panelists who donated time. So the coalition can not be more grateful to all the people who have donated to all of our efforts to this summit presentation. I just wanna reiterate that because it really does take a coordinated approach in order to help our neighbors in need. And so thank you to everyone who has committed to us and committed to this group.
- Yeah, thank you. It's wonderful to see this community together sharing and learning from each other. So we want to wrap things up today hearing back from you again. We have for our last poll, you'll find a link embedded in the chat. So if you go to the chat box, you're going to see there's a note there from Jennifer Berkey to all panelists and attendees with instructions. It says, "For the last poll, open a browser." So open a little tab and connect to... There's a link there. The http://wooclap.com\foodsummit site. You can either click directly on that link from your chat, or if that's not working for you, you can cut and paste that little HTTP address into your browser that you open. And this is intended to be a running list of ideas that you wish to share. So we want to hear from you here regarding what information and processes you think we need in order to make better decisions within our community. So please feel free to take a few minutes to share your ideas. You can share as many ideas as you like, and we'll be able to see them as you post them dynamically on the screen. We won't have time read through this year today, but we will share this with you when we send out our feedback form for this session which you'll also receive in an email as a follow up. Thank you to those of you who are participating. Again, we'll compile this and send it out to you for review. We wanna thank you so much for participating in Session 3 of their Food Security Summit. We hope you'll join us for Session 4 which will be on February 9th, 10 to 11:30 AM. We'll be focusing on how people in need get access to healthy food at that session. Again, we just wanna thank all of our speakers and panelists for joining us today. We wanna thank you for your interest in this topic, and we hope you enjoy the rest of your day. Thank you.
Session Three Panelists
Director of Treasury and Tax
Mary works in Munson Healthcare in the Treasury department. She ran the food pantry for St. Patrick’s Catholic Church for 18 years as a volunteer leader. She has served as the chair of the Operating Committee of the Northwest Food Coalition since March of 2018. Mary also participated on the systems team that created the Food Security System Map. She has a B. A. in business administration from University of Notre Dame and a Masters of Public Health Administration from the University of Chicago.
Food Coalition Coordinator, Food Rescue Coordinator
Goodwill Industries of Northwest Michigan
Bachelor of Social Work, Central Michigan University
Val works for Goodwill in the Food Rescue program. She coordinates the Northwest Food Coalition monthly member meetings and the gathering of pantry and meal site statistics on people served. She organizes collaborative activities for members such as food drives. She has experience with many food programs serving Northwest Michigan such as Commodity Foods. Val served as a Community Service Coordinator for 27 years at the Northwest Michigan Community Action Agency (NMCAA). During her time at NMCAA, Val helped found the Northwest Food Coalition in 1994. While coordinating the Food Coalition, Val also helped start Food Rescue in 2009.
She is a Traverse City native and lives there with her husband and partner in crime. She loves art and floral design.
Megan has spent her career dedicated to community growth and development, land and water conservation and restoration, food and farming systems, housing, transportation, and access to nature and outdoor recreation. Pairing her professional experience in community and organizational development with a personal zeal for building trust and openness in decision-making, Megan founded Parallel Solutions in 2014. http://www.parallelmi.com
She is a 1999 graduate of Miami University (Ohio) with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Geography and a Bachelor of Philosophy degree from the School of Interdisciplinary Studies/Western College Program. She earned a Master of Arts in Organizational Management from Spring Arbor University, and pursued additional training in mediation, mindfulness, and workplace diversity.
Food Rescue of Northwest Michigan
Taylor Moore serves as Manager of Food Rescue of Northwest Michigan, a program of Goodwill Northern Michigan. A culinary graduate and holding a bachelor’s degree in Sociology and Political Science with a focus in social policy, Taylor has led Food Rescue’s transition in adopting systems change practices to address food insecurity and food waste. Since Taylor joined the team in 2015, Food Rescue has prioritized access to healthy food by increasing services to and connection with local farmers through its Healthy Harvest program, the Northwest Food Coalition’s Farm to Neighbor Program (F2N), Groundwork’s Local Food Relief program, and, most recently, assisting the Area Agency on Aging’s USDA produce distribution. Taylor understands an equitable food system to be a primary function of sustaining and improving one’s sense of belonging to a community.
Food Equity Specialist
Groundwork Center for Resilient Communities
Christina works as a Food Equity Specialist at the Groundwork Center for Resilient Communities in Traverse City, Michigan. She holds a Bachelors of Arts in the Program in the Environment, with a focus on Environmental Justice, from the University of Michigan. Christina farmed vegetables for community supported agriculture programs, farmers markets and schools prior to landing at Groundwork, where she uses this farming experience to build systems that support local farmers and connect fresh, healthy local foods to food pantries and meal sites across the region.
Goodwill Northern Michigan
Dan Buron is the executive director of Goodwill Northern Michigan, a non-profit social enterprise that operates 9 retail and e-commerce businesses that supports the vision of a community:
- Where everyone has a safe and secure place to live.
- Where everyone has access to healthy food.
- Where the working poor have opportunities for training and advancement to family-sustaining wages.
A graduate of Gustavus Adolphus College in Minnesota with a BA in Psychology and a master’s degree in Public Affairs from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Dan has 20 years of leadership experience with Goodwill organizations throughout the United Sates. Long a fan of the Northern Michigan region, Dan moved here with his wife and two daughters in 2016. In 2019, Dan completed the Ironman 70.3 Traverse City Triathlon, raising money for Food Rescue as part of the Charity Challenge.
Public Health Planner
District Health Department #10
Regional Community Coordinator
Northern Michigan Community Health Innovation Region
Erin Barrett, Certified Health Education Specialist, is currently a Public Health Planner for District Health Department #10 and a Regional Community Coordinator for the Northern Michigan Community Health Innovation Region (NMCHIR). As part of her work with the NMCHIR, Erin supported the development and current implementation of the MiThrive Outcomes Framework. Additionally, the NMCHIR is committed to increasing coordination and alignment across sectors, amplifying resident voice and resident power, and promoting health equity through system policies and practices.
Erin holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Community Health Education from Central Michigan University. Erin is in her final semester of graduate school, obtaining a Master of Public Health with a concentration in health disparities at the University of Indianapolis. Erin’s academic and professional interests include health equity, social justice, community engagement, and population health. Erin also serves as Member at Large for the Society of Public Health Education – Great Lakes Chapter. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her family, volunteering, traveling (pre-pandemic), and learning new skills.
Chief Executive Officer
Des Moines Area Religious Council
Matt Unger has been CEO of the Des Moines Area Religious Council (DMARC) since July, 2019. Unger came to DMARC after a 6+ year tenure at the Food Bank of Iowa which saw him begin as Program Manager and finish his time there as Chief Operating Officer. His leadership at the Food Bank included the implementation of three new programs, a merger with the Food Bank of Southern Iowa, and oversight of the Food Bank’s warehouse remodel.
Prior to joining the non-profit sector, Matt spent more than a dozen years working in the world of political campaigns and management of state government. His political career spanned multiple Iowa Caucus campaigns, Iowa Gubernatorial campaigns, and a four year stint as Chief of Staff to Lt. Governor Patty Judge. Judge and Unger then partnered in a consulting firm, PJJ Solutions, where they would focus not just on political campaigns, but business and organizational strategy as well as public policy.
Originally from Wisconsin, and with a stint in Illinois between, Matt has called Des Moines home for nearly twenty five years.
Data, Analytics, and Program Coordinator
Des Moines Area Religious Council
Daniel Beck has been with DMARC since 2010 in varying roles as the organization has evolved. Though the employment title and purview has modified as well, he has served as Data, Analytics, and Program Coordinator since 2013. With an educational background that included certifications as a nutritionist and a fitness/wellness consultant, the fit with DMARC was natural as the network began more heavily focusing on its work involving community wellness and nutrition in its food pantries. Daniel is a passionate advocate for equity of nutrition and healthy lifestyle choices for the under assisted communities that have long been deprived of affordable choices to improve family health and wellness. In this capacity, Daniel was one of the developers of DMARC’s health incentive, Food Pantry 2.0 model in an effort to evolve the function of what a food pantry is, to include a more choice laden, dignified environment.
Facilitator/ Technical Support
District Director – District 3
Michigan State University Extension
Jennifer serves as the District Three Director and provides administrative oversight for the six county MSU Extension offices in Northwest Lower Michigan including; Antrim, Benzie, Grand Traverse, Leelanau, Kalkaska and Manistee Counties. She has worked for MSU Extension for 22 years and prior to this assignment she worked as an extension educator providing supervision for SNAP-Ed nutrition instructors as well as taught food safety education for the community. She has been active in multiple leadership positions within her community; PTO president at two schools as well as served as President of MEAFCS (Michigan Extension Association of Family and Consumer Science Educators). Jennifer has been an active member of the Northwest Food Coalition by linking the nutrition and food safety resources to the pantry members.
She lives in Traverse City with her two daughters and her golden doodle. Jennifer enjoys participating in her daughter’s school and sporting events as well as hiking on our beautiful northern Michigan trails or boating on the bay.