Advancing Mission Thrivability Spurs New Thinking and Action for Mayors' Feed the Hungry

Advancing Mission Thrivability Spurs New Thinking and Action for Mayors' Feed the Hungry

Posted on March 24, 2021 by Linda Versluis, Board Member, The Mayors’ Feed the Hungry Program

Since its meager beginnings in 1987, The Mayors' Feed the Hungry Program's mission has been to provide food to those most in need in Sarasota and Manatee Counties. Over the years, approximately 600 tons of food and $3.6 million in food gift cards have been distributed to needy families.

Implemented by former Sarasota Mayor Fredd Adkins, The Mayors' Feed the Hungry Program is endorsed by all local mayors and county commission chairs in our service area.

The year of the COVID pandemic, 2020, was a banner year for donations to our organization. It also represented the year of highest demand for food assistance in our 33-year history. In addition to monetary donations to provide food to the hungry, Mayors' Feed the Hungry was gifted with a refrigerated truck from Impact 100 SRQ, a local philanthropic organization. This truck enables us to pick up and distribute donated perishable food through our member charities and food pantries. As fate would have it, the acquisition of this truck coincided with the onset of our participation in the Advancing Mission Thrivability initiative through The Patterson Foundation.

Our participation in AMT was the key spark for moving our program out of a holding pattern and into active change. Michael Oxman facilitated discussions that caused us to analyze our strengths and weaknesses as an organization and engage in collaborative idea-sharing and problem-solving. Our "AHA" moment came with a question Michael posed about the role that local mayors and county commission chairs play in advancing our mission.

With this question came the realization of the importance of personal relationships in building our program, especially our relationships with government officials. We also came to understand that a certain key person in our organization has a unique set of communication skills and techniques that foster an increase in fundraising and participation. We are now working on ways to teach these methods to other members.

We realized that visibility in the community is a key component to our future success in fundraising and food drive efforts, with our truck serving as our "moving billboard."

We are absolutely delighted with the progress we have made during and after our Advancing Mission Thrivability consulting "sprint." We set a goal to hold local food drives called "Fill the Truck" in nine cities, and have completed two thus far, with more planned. We have increased communication with and participation by the local mayors in planning and holding events. We are advancing our "5 for 5 for 5" sponsorship initiative to obtain five sponsors at $5000 for five years. We are in the process of recruiting more local food pantries across the region to join The Mayors' Feed the Hungry Program. We have expanded our collaboration with Impact 100 SRQ and are seeking additional local service organizations to support our efforts. We have identified a need for freezers by some of our member pantries to store perishable foods and have been able to acquire monetary assistance to cover the cost.

Our participation in AMT has led The Mayors' Feed the Hungry Program to a greater sense of purpose and an ability to MAKE THINGS HAPPEN! Thank you to The Patterson Foundation and No Mission, No Margin for helping us evolve and strengthen our organization during these challenging times.


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