July 02, 2013
Leadership class project expands healthy food option
L-R: Roger Newport, AL Steel, Meghan Glynn, Calfee Strategic Solutions, Kurt Reiber, Freestore Foodbank, Matt Davis, Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber, Jamie Smith, Business Courier
Leadership Cincinnati Class 36 added five projects to the ever growing list of great ones initiated by previous Leadership Cincinnati classes including great ones like Crayons to Computers and the Charitable Pharmacy at St. Vincent de Paul, among others.
The Giving Fields is a community farm where fresh produce is harvested through the help of the Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky communities to provide fresh, healthy food for neighbors in need. This project is a collaborative effort with the Freestore Foodbank. The project was focused on three areas: (1) Developing the business model for expansion of the project; (2) Providing an enhanced communication plan and (3) Action plans to ensure sustainability of the Giving Fields. The initial two years of The Giving Fields have been very successful.
The Giving Fields project needs to be expanded into the eastern and western suburbs of Greater Cincinnati. We want to build on the success of The Giving Fields to set the platform for the development of additional community farms that will benefit more neighbors in need. The Cincinnati metropolitan area ranks 3rd in the nation in childhood poverty. The project included focus on three program themes: Bridging the Gaps, creating a Culture of Innovation and Strengthening Community Leadership. To Bridge the Gaps, the objective was to allow neighbors who are financially stable to provide fresh, healthy foods to neighbors in need. In addition, the project would focus on aligning volunteers from various socio-economic sectors who would work side-by-side in cultivating and harvesting fresh produce. By bringing together communities, leaders, educational institutions and other volunteers, this collection of people fosters a Culture of Innovation as the approach of the project utilizes state-of-the art techniques for fertilization and irrigation. It will also strengthen Community Leadership by engaging business leaders, community leaders and leaders of community food pantries / soup kitchens to work together to help feed our neighbors in need. The objectives are also supportive of the Agenda 360 and Vision 2015 programs to provide livable communities and regional stewardship.
To enhance and expand The Giving Fields to provide fresh, healthy food to help the large number of families in need of food assistance and create a long-term sustainable program.
This project was designed to provide the necessary tools to successfully start a new Giving Fields projects and to provide enhancements and long-term sustainability to the existing Giving Fields program.
At the beginning of the project, the initial focus was to expand The Giving Fields in the Greater Cincinnati area. Very shortly into the project, it became evident that an underlying infrastructure needed to be developed for The Giving Fields model before it could be successfully expanded. The team met with the founders - Doug and Sheila Bray - to gather their extensive knowledge and experiences with The Giving Fields. In addition, various members of the team worked with personnel at the Freestore Foodbank and operations personnel at The Giving Fields to begin the key step of developing the formal business model to allow for a successful Giving Fields. The discussions focused both on the successes and failures experienced during the initial start-up.
Communications were identified as a key to success of The Giving Fields, including utilization of the news media, addition and expansion of the use of social media and expanding the knowledge in the community of The Giving Fields. A color promotional flier was created for use by The Giving Fields and Freestore Foodbank. The message was the focus on "Harvesting Hope" and hitting the hearts of the community by participation in this project to make a difference in the community by providing food to those in need in their community in an environmentally manner. The summary message was "Harvest a Better Future".
A social media strategy was also created to connect with the community, identify convenient ways for people to make donation and provide on-going modes of related activities, events and progress.
A key factor to the success of The Giving Fields is the volunteer base. While we recognized that this is always a challenge, we quickly came to understand how critical it was to have a dependable volunteer base. Thus, an extensive list of potential volunteer organizations was developed to expand the current base used by The Giving Fields. These lists will also serve as a solid basis for the development of new Giving Fields in the community.
As with any project, it is virtually impossible to have a successful project without some financial capital. We formalized the estimated costs to operate both The Giving Fields and the underlying infrastructure for management and distribution of the program through The Freestore Foodbank. A clear understanding of the start-up and operating costs will help a new program understand what is needed and each situation will be different dependent upon donations and local support.
To wrap-up the project, the team developed a media event to raise the awareness of The Giving Fields located directly next to the Ohio River.
This project was very helpful to the Freestore Foodbank as the Leadership Cincinnati team provided: resources to develop / document The Giving Fields business model, promotional materials, expanded volunteer resource base, actions to ensure sustainability of the project and the platform to expand The Giving Fields into other areas in the Greater Cincinnati / Northern Kentucky area.
- The Freestore Foodbank in conjunction with the operation's personnel at The Giving Fields will continue to manage the project in the future. This group will be able to utilize the tools developed by the project team to further enhance the existing Giving Fields program.
- The Freestore Foodbank will be positioned to provide information to the organizations wanting to develop a new Giving Fields.
- The Freestore Foodbank has an extensive list of businesses, community leaders and other organizations that can serve as an expansion to their volunteer database for the Giving Fields.
- A future Leadership Cincinnati class can take the next step to assist a new organization in implementing a new Giving Fields in the Greater Cincinnati / Northern Kentucky area. In addition, they can seek support from Leadership Northern Kentucky. This was attempted in 2013, but they chose another project.
Project Team Members:
Other projects coming out of Class 36 include an employee retention 'dream manager' program, an online multicultural resource guide and ambassador program, a community farm for food pantries, a plan for improving transportation to medical care, and a program bridging the awareness and program gap around the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) industry in the community.
View other class projects and look for more project spotlights in future currents issues.
Leadership Cincinnati, the preeminent leadership development program in Cincinnati USA, sponsored by First Financial Bank, provides participants a broad view of civic leadership through direct contact with a wide variety of institutions and people.
Class members are chosen from a cross section of the community and represent the region's top levels of leadership. The ten-month program, which kicked off in September 2012, focuses on creating a regional culture of innovation in the areas of education, economic development, inclusion, justice, arts and culture, health care, human services and sustainability.
Each year, project teams are formed from the members of the current Leadership Cincinnati USA class to deliver significant support to various segments of the Greater Cincinnati community. Participation in a project team provides class members the opportunity to work closely with like-minded individuals and effect change.
More information about Leadership Cincinnati
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