A good deal of FFEN’s most important work involves partnering with food shelves to identify and address the challenges they face and assist them with additional resources and fresh perspectives as they try to deliver the best and most helpful experience to their clients. But like food shelves themselves, FFEN’s mission is one of service--to end users of course, but also to our food shelf partners. We know that forming genuine relationships with our partner organizations requires a reciprocity of perspective and opinions. That is why we’ve implemented our first Food Shelf Engagement Survey in order to provide a streamlined channel for feedback on our own practices. We consider this feedback absolutely essential as a demonstration of our accountability to food shelves working with FFEN and our commitment to increasing the value and impact of our collaborations throughout the state. This year's survey reached out to food shelves that have worked with FFEN over the last seven years to gather a baseline understanding for future bench-marking. In this initial survey, we did hear many overwhelmingly positive comments from food shelves. We are grateful for the opportunity to have worked side by side with these individuals and organizations. Their kind words validate the labor of our own volunteers and staff and affirm the most effective elements of FFEN’s approach. Important learnings from the survey are:
Just as importantly, food shelves’ feedback on FFEN’s own areas of opportunity allow us to examine the spaces where our processes can be improved and our practices rendered more effective. In many instances these areas mirror developments already in the works here at FFEN! The food shelf survey itself is an effort to fill in certain gaps in our communications. The ongoing development of the Food Sourcing Analysis (FSA) report seeks to expand, standardize, and increase the availability of this important tool. FFEN continues to grow as an organization and we owe much of our ongoing success to key changes made in the last few years. Changes that include the addition of new personnel such as our Americorps VISTA, Jenny Moore. Jenny led the development and implementation of the food shelf survey, in coordination with FFEN's Program Committee, and will be using the information to support their workplan priorities to increase FFEN's volunteer capacity. We asked Jenny to reflect on their experience creating the survey, what it means to them, and to FFEN as a whole. Here’s what they had to say:
I created this survey to gather input from every food shelf that FFEN has engaged with from 2013 up until October 2019. This survey is meant to evaluate our past and current engagement experience and create a plan to address our areas that are in need of growth.
It has been amazing to begin my VISTA year in creating and implementing this food shelf engagement survey. I have the opportunity to dive deep, truthfully and transparently, into FFEN's work. Not a lot of organizations would allow for that. I respect and love the fact that I can learn all of the ins and outs of FFEN; the areas that food shelves state we're doing well in, and the areas where we need to improve. The transparency is really refreshing and will only help guide my work this VISTA year.
As one of my first VISTA projects (the food shelf engagement survey) this year comes to a close, we're incorporating the feedback into creating an annual and a post- engagement survey for food shelves. The input we've received from food shelves will continue to direct my work and be center-stage when developing new processes. Click here to view our email communication to food shelves with the results infographic.
To learn more about FFEN’s mission and how you can help, click here.