From Just Food Director: It's a Really Bad Idea to Give a Food Bank Your Money

I really wrestled with the title of this post, because I didn't want it to be all that people read and then moved on with their lives without wanting to explore why I would say that. Conversely, I didn't want people to not read what I had to say just by the fact that there wasn't a provocative title. I don't think I have anything particularly profound to say, other than this has been what has kept me moving and stirring for the last six months. I began to ask a question that all of us at some point in time in our careers should ask: what the heck am I doing?

The need in our community is ever-increasing. And so is our desire to meet whatever needs there are. We need more so we can do more. But think about this. Year after year, you hear of food banks needing more resources, bigger facilities, more trucks, and additional staff. And you give selflessly to that cause, because people eating is important, right? And year after year, the number of hungry people increases, poverty rates rise, and the problem gets progressively worse. Go back and re-read that. We need more and more stuff to do more and more things for a problem that never gets better. I don't view more food distributed as any sort of legacy of success, but as a telling example of our failure to stop this problem from getting even more out of hand.

I don't know about you, but that really bothers me. It's kept me up at night. It's bothered me so much that in January, we are completely changing how we do business here at Just Food. How we've been is not how we will be any longer.

I was once told that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. We will no longer be insane. We are going to start over, from the ground up. This means many changes for our clients, and many changes for those that invest in our program. We no longer want to put a small bandaid on a very large problem. We want to be solvent. We want to shrink. We want to eventually go out of business, the right way. Truthfully, I want to be unemployed in five years. How's that for a five year plan?

I recently told a group of financial investors that if the return on investment with something they were offering was as low as what I can offer, they'd go out of business in a hurry. I don't want people to give us resources so we can do more good work. I want people to give us resources because they are investing in a collective community impact.

I will be rolling out over the next few days what that collective community impact is with Just Food beginning in 2013. The time for us needing more just so we can do more is over. We will work harder and smarter with what you give us to help those who want a better life find it and those who are hungry to receive nourishment.

We're going to do more with your investments in 2013 than you ever thought possible. And I absolutely cannot wait to tell you why.

Tagged: investment, different, impact, investing, starting over, just food, 2013

Comments

LilySiebert 1 year, 8 months ago

Thank you for the provocative title, I am so glad I read this! Excited to hear about the changes and new ideas for assisting our community. Thanks for you hard work and commitment.

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Chris Tilden 1 year, 8 months ago

Access to healthy foods was a priority issue identified through the recent Community Health Assessment. Thank you to Just Food and many local partners who are committed to improving local food systems and ensuring better access for those who are "food insecure." Looking forward to being part of this change!

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Lawrence Morgan 1 year, 7 months ago

I will wait to see what the changes are, in detail.

I also think you have made a tremendous mistake with the title of this piece. Many people will see this title and stop giving to Just Food. That would be a tremendous mistake.

I do thank you for all the work you have done. But before you write using another title like this one, include in the body of your work what you plan to change!

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justfoodks 1 year, 7 months ago

kansasplains1:

Point well taken, Lawrence. Thank you for taking time to comment.

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