Meeting Changing Needs

FFEN’s priority is building trust-based food shelf relationships that focus on access instead of barriers and improving reach and impact.

FFEN's services

Change Management

Help food shelf staff and volunteers successfully navigate significant changes within their organization, such as leadership transition, funding decreases, or service model shifts.

Process and Operational Updates

Support the development and implementation of food shelf process changes to increase the quality and/or frequency of the food for clients, increase the culture of respect and dignity in which food is distributed, and best utilize food shelf space and volunteer resources.

Food Sourcing Budget Analysis

Provide food shelf leaders with historical trendline data that allows for more informed and impactful decisions.

Equipment Improvements

Work with food shelf leaders to identify the most critical equipment needs given their unique context; provide FFEN funds or leverage other external funds to purchase coolers, freezers (both critical for fresh food), shelving and/or technology to boost effectiveness and efficiency of food shelf operations.

Food Shelf Design Improvements

Work with food shelf leaders to identify traffic and food flow improvements in current or new space to most efficiently and respectfully serve the community.

Staff and Volunteer Training

Content can be developed in collaboration with food shelf leaders and often include: FIFO (first in, first out) and Inventory Management practices; Fresh Produce Sorting and Distribution; Food Budgeting and Sourcing;  and Volunteer Engagement.

System Convening

Serve as an advocate and navigator to the food shelf within the broader hunger relief system; serve as an intermediary and convener between local food shelf and regional food bank(s) to identify supply chain improvements and innovative approaches to service.

2013-2018: Locations of the 61 food shelves positively impacted by FFEN

Sabathani Community Center has increased fresh food for clients by over 20% since working with FFEN, while decreasing their budget and maintaining food quantity distributed per client.

FFEN's collaboration has been critical to Sabathani's ability to make big picture changes for our food shelf. We are now able to offer more produce and other fresh food options as we continue to be good stewards of financial donations. FFEN volunteers have kept the process moving forward so that our limited staff can focus on serving the families that come to our program."

Cindy Booker, executive director,

Sabathani Community Center,

South Minneapolis

Interested in volunteering your consulting expertise in any of FFEN’s service offerings?

How it works

1. Exploratory Conversation

All FFEN engagements start with a conversation.  We learn more about the unique situation and context in which each food shelf is operating.  This first conversation, often by phone, helps FFEN match the food shelf with the right FFEN consultant as the process moves forward.

2. In-person Visit and Learning

The assigned FFEN consultants meet in person at the food shelf location as quickly as possible.  They will want to hear more directly from food shelf leaders and see the space to understand food flow and service processes, and confirm organizational needs and opportunities.  This step often includes a food sourcing budget analysis which provides critical information to drive food shelf business and service decisions.

3. Opportunity Report Provided

After gathering information from the food shelf visit and the food sourcing budget analysis, FFEN consultants provide the food shelf with a report of key business and service recommendations with specific FFEN support or referrals to additional resources noted.  From this report, the food shelf can choose how they want to engage FFEN in next steps.


4. Joint Work Defined

Once a food shelf decides how to chart a course forward, the FFEN consultant and food shelf leaders define the projects they will work on together.  This work will be unique for each food shelf given their situation.  Timeframe can vary from 10 hours of FFEN engagement to up to a year of partnership.

Recent FFEN projects

Working with a food shelf to write a grant for equipment funding

Providing a food budget analysis, identifying next steps and then providing regular check-ins on progress

Supporting the operational transition to a full client choice model of service that allows clients to choose their own food off the shelves

Funding new flooring at a food shelf that has identified a clear vision for their remodel

Connecting new food shelf leaders with sector resources to help them successfully chart a new course for their organization.

Ready for FFEN's expertise?





701 North 3rd Street, Suite 203, Minneapolis, MN 55401


  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn

© 2019 Foundation for Essential Needs | Design by Andrew Battles | Content consulting by Feddema Strategies