Sunday, July 30, 2017

Moving toward Sustainability - Supporting a Food Security Network in Buncombe County

Food Security Workgroup members met on July 24th for a process to begin identifying what a potential formal collaborative process would look like to assist in expanding the capacity and sustainability of those nonprofits doing work around food security.   This process built on survey feedback from partners that identified shared values, barriers and supports to our work as well as look at funders and connectors being accessed across our partnership. 
A second meeting to complete this process will be held in August with the outcome of identifying a clear structure for collaboration and a detailed action plan for moving forward with an emphasis on innovation and substantive actions.
July Update on partner activities (note this meeting agenda was tight and the only partner sharing info this month was Bountiful Cities:
Bountiful Cities has been awarded funding through Aetna Foundation’s Cultivating Healthy Communities program for 18 months beginning in October of 2017. This highly competitive national grant program has chosen the Community Food Education Collaborative, a joint-project of FEAST, Women's Wellbeing and Development Foundation (WWD-F), and Bountiful Cities for an award amount of $53,000. These dollars will fund the bulk of 18 months of FEAST's cooking and gardening education at Hall Fletcher Elementary, 3 seasonal series of the 12 week Strong Roots youth community gardening education program with Bountiful Cities, and 18 months of resident-led cooking classes at the Hillcrest Resource Center with WWD-F. Additionally, the grant provides funds for WWD-F, FEAST, and Bountiful Cities to work together to cross-reference and compare programmatic components in order to improve each program's content and delivery. All three programs will be utilizing the CHIP Food Security Education & Skill Building Collaborative Measures to record the effectiveness of the programs' ability to increase measures related to participants' overall food security. This information will then be entered into the CHIP Scorecard in order to track and compare results across all participating Food Education programs in Asheville and Buncombe County. This grant is an example of the CHIP's Food Security Working Group beginning to effect results and increase collaboration among Asheville and Buncombe County non-profits.
The Double Up Food Bucks (DUFB) has launched at the French Broad Food Coop!  Bountiful Cities was awarded funding from the WNC

Community Foundation for this pilot to increase access to fruits and 
DUFB Eligible Produce on Display!
vegetables for SNAP recipients. The DUFB program awards a dollar for each SNAP dollar used to purchase locally grown produce.These dollars can then be spent to purchase any other fruit and veggies purchased from the same establishment.
The program had a soft roll-out in late June to insure there were no difficulties with the technology and logistics before broadly promoting. After only 3 weeks the program is running very smoothly.  And despite only word-of-mouth promotion, 86 individuals have signed up over 100 transactions, well beyond what was expected at this point. The waiver process from the USDA is well-underway and we anticipate the West Village Market to come on board as the second market in the next few weeks.
This 2017 pilot is an exciting scaleable effort to develop a successful model in WNC in preparation for submitting a USDA Food Insecurity Nutrition Initiative (FINI) grant in 2018 to expand to more retail outlets in Buncombe and surrounding counties. Eventually this is expected to be a statewide initiative and conversations are underway with Durham and Wilmington.  Moving forward MountainWise, a non-profit serving the counties west of Buncombe, will be the lead agency in this effort as DUFB expands initially into Haywood County.  
The Ask for July:
We continue to need you to help us identify volunteers to serve as Double Up Liaisons.  These volunteers should be SNAP recipients and individuals who need 20 volunteer hours a week to maintain their SNAP eligibility.  Take a look at the Double Up Volunteer flyer,  print it off, and share it with individuals that might be a good fit for this opportunity.
We also welcome you to begin letting individuals know about the program and how they can participate. Click here to download a flyer to share.  The plan is to begin larger outreach efforts as soon as the West Village Market location launches. 
 For more information on the Double Up program, take a look at this article written by the Mountain Xpress!

Thursday, March 30, 2017

March - Working Toward Efficiency, Effectiveness & Sustainability

The full Food Security Workgroup met on March 27th to share updates and further the work around shared strategies.  (Details are summarized on the meeting powerpoint).

Strategy Updates:
  • The Education and Skill Building Team - Working off the Action Map created at the January Workgroup meeting, a team has been meeting to create parameters for the types of partners to include in a food security education and skill-building collaborative as well as begin the process of identifying a process and tool for capturing shared performance measures.  The tool was shared with a discussion on needed changes and suggestions to make it better meet our needs.
  • Double Up Food Bucks - The Asheville Buncombe Food Policy Council received funding from the WNC Community Foundation to begin a pilot program in 2 Buncombe County retail markets with an anticipated launch date in late April.  A required USDA waiver has been applied for.  This process identified current software challenges that led Mother Earth Produce to decide to step back and wait for the DUFB expansion in the Fall rather than be an initial pilot retail organization. West Village Market is prepared to step in as the 2nd retail organization and waiver application has been submitted this this market.  (note, blanket waiver occurs with USDA FINI funding). A LOI has been submitted to Mission CI for expansion funds, if successful this will take us through Sept/Oct of next year, when Mountain Wise will be taking over as the lead agent. 
  • Conversations are also taking place with Hopey.  There are several barriers such as no point of sale software system system. They also don’t carry as much local produce as they could and we are working with them to increase this…partnership beginning.
  • Plans are moving forward to apply for USDA FINI funding with MountainWise as the lead.  The DUFB will still need to secure bridge funding through CFWNC grant in January of 2018, and some other funding source to supplement funds between October 2018 and when FINI funds become available in 2019.
Partner Updates:
  • YMCA (Ella)  - The YMCA's clinical pilot with 5 participating clinics is beginning to see results.  Clinical partners are all Mission My Care Plus clinics (Leceister, Candler, Old Fort, Sweeten Creek and Asheville Pediatrics.  The YMCA provides food and and the mobile kitchen twice a month. Currently there have been 127 referrals to the nutrition program with 80-90% returns at each site. Feedback has been very positive and they hope to expand to 8 clinical sites. MANNA is a key partner in developing and implementing this model Note: Good location to provide info on DUFB
  • MANNA (Amy) - MANNA is doing more work to integrate nutrition into the work of the 220+ MANNA using the Feeding America Nudge model ..nudging them to begin making healthier substitutes.  They are also partnering with COOP Extension to help support Nudge partners with food demonstrations and education.  Ultimately the goal is for a pantry to be able to do some nutrition education without having a professional onsite. There will be more attention around home canning (with clear understanding of risk and how to ensure safe practices).  MANNA is actively engaged with the YMCA's clinical pilot as well as working to support Bounty and Soul's community nutrition work.
  • Bounty and Soul (Ali) - Bounty and Soul is piloting a clinical health coaching program in addition to their broader community nutrition and health education programming. They are halfway thru their first round of this pilot. They are beginning a partnership with MAHEC Family in Swannanoa with a goal to work with 16 people this year.  They are already seeing significant changes with some of the participants. Beyond coaching, the program includes regular exercise class opportunities, stress management and other support for a holistic approach.
Systems Change & Sustainability 
Our conversation to prioritize systems change approaches uncovered major concerns by all partners in the room about potential and significant changes to the funding landscape and a recognition that our systems change conversation should start with the core food security organizations that have been long-term active partners in this work. Along the lines of collaboration among our education and skill-building activities, there are many opportunities to collaborate for the purpose of increasing efficiency, effectiveness and sustainability.  Designing a food security collaboration that focuses on shared functions such as administrative support and volunteers as well as identifying long-term funding that minimizes competition and promotes sustainability with a stated goal to:
  • Create a sustainable  structure to support our collective work with the core community partners doing food security work in Buncombe County.  
To further this work we will begin work to identify:
  • Our shared values
  • Barriers & supports
  • Shared measures
  • Funders & connectors

Identified Next Steps:
  • Create shared a document to begin answering key questions --- schedule lunch meeting to identify questions, 
  • Revisit and expand on initial conversations facilitated through Missions Community Investment initial work with food security organizations to identify what work is being done and who is part of “this system”
  • Explore assistance to map/visualize “the system”
  • Consider engaging media partners

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

February - Workgroup Meeting Structure, Momentum and Exciting News

Thanks to all who responded to our brief questionnaire on how to structure our meetings moving forward!  The results show that:
  • Monday afternoons appear to work for almost of of you with late afternoon and eliminating the 3rd Monday make it work for a few more.
  • Meeting bi-monthly and combining the larger group with time for subgroup work was preferred by a majority.
  • A few of you expressed a willingness to participate on a small leadership team.  I'll reach out and set up a meeting over lunch or coffee in the next month to explore what that might look like.
Our next meeting will be the 4th Monday of March (3/27) from 3-5 at MAHEC in the Pisgah Room of the Education Building.  

Moving forward, through the first of the year our meetings will be from 3-5 on the following Mondays...
  • May 22 - Buncombe County HHS, Hughes Building
  • July 24 - MAHEC Blue Ridge A
  • September 24th (no location)
  • November 27 - MAHEC Cherokee
  • January 22 - MAHEC Pisgah
These dates and locations can be found on the CHIP Calendar

Strategy Group Updates:
A small team (Cory Jackson w/YMCA, Kate Justen w/FEAST, Cathy Hohenstein with NC Cooperative Extension and Terri March) have met several times to begin work on what was considered the next step in our Skill Building and Education Collaborative.  The team has created a very simple definition for what type of program would be included in this collaborative as well as drafted some shared questions that these organizations could use with their clients/customers.  

The Asheville Buncombe Food Policy Council with Bountiful Cities serving as the fiscal agent has been awarded funding by the Community Foundation of WNC for the Double Up Bucks initiative. The planning team, including numerous FS Workgroup members, has been meeting monthly to address logistics for the anticipated April roll out.  We are currently waiting to receive a required (and expected) waiver from the USDA to proceed.  Once that is obtained, the date for the program launch can be announced and we will begin sharing materials and information to get the word out to SNAP recipients as well as community agencies and organizations that can help spread the word.  The initial retail partners will be the French Broad Food Coop and Mother Earth Produce.  The planning team is already working identifying future retail partners and on securing funding for expansion leading up to a USDA grant application in 2018.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

January - Action Planning for Skills-based Education Collaboration

The Food Security Workgroup met on January 13th.  The majority of the meeting focused on development of a draft action plan around our strategy to: Establish a community-wide approach to collaborating with and referring to existing skills-based education programs to address healthy eating and food security

After defining who our "customers" were for this strategy, we identified potential common performance metrics for the results we hope to see. We then drafted a map of action steps needed to impact these metrics.  As we move forward, we will need to modify, clarify and expand it, but it is a great start and something we can work with. Please take a few minutes to review the meeting notes and the draft action map. 

A small team will meeting in early February to create criteria for the type of education program that will be included in this collaborative. Additional next steps include meeting with identified potential partners and stakeholders for this strategy.  

Lastly, we need to identify what your preference is for the structure of these meetings moving forward.  I've created a very brief questionnaire to get you input.  I ask that you respond in the next few days so we can schedule our next meeting and keep the momentum going.

Click here for detailed meeting minutes, powerpoint (agenda, meeting structure and background info), and draft action plan or visit the links on the righthand toolbar. 

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

December: Education & Skills, Policy & Systems Change and Double Up Food Bucks Strategy Areas

Below is a summary of the Strategy Group work from our November Meeting.  If you are involved in the CHIP Food Security work, please review and identify where you would like to focus your energy.  The Double Up Food Bucks currently is the only group with solid action steps.  The other two have opportunity to help clarify and shape what will take place over the next few months.  

Our next meeting will take place in January.  Visit the meeting doodle to let me know what dates you are available.  After this next meeting we will evaluate how often we will be meeting and what is the preference for how we meet (as a whole group with "team" work or if groups wish to schedule separately. I know there is some crossover involvement.  

Strategy Area Work Summary

Action plan work to date prioritizes building on local successes related to 5 categories of intervention approaches.  Using current assets and that can be committed to this work, teams identified the follow strategies:
  1. Establish a community-wide approach to collaborating with and referring to existing skills-based education programs to address healthy eating and food security.
  2. Create a model for policy and environmental change to support food security.
  3. Implement a Double Up Food Bucks program in local retail settings.

Subgroups identified key concepts, areas to explore and action steps for each of the 3 areas.

Build on existing relationships with partner organizations to further educational opportunities.  Build the network between organizations.

Groups present: FEAST, YMCA, Mission CI
The YMCA and FEAST identified how this approach can work between their organizations

  • YMCA nutrition programs talk to participants in their educational programs to see which of them have kids in FEAST partner schools.  Make connections between the nutrition education happening with the students @ FEAST and the parents @ The YMCA
  • FEAST introduce the YMCA educators working with adults to school staff.  Teachers learn about wellness programs via the YMCA that are available to them as educators.  Parents learn about available programs that may be available to them.
  • FEAST introduce YMCA educators to our partner school social worker as an option to connect to families in need.   
  • Communication between FEAST classes and the mobile kitchen is ongoing, The mobile kitchen knows what FEAST students have been doing so they can reference it in their demonstrations and produce distribution.
  • Find other services and avenues of communication between our organizations that can help to bring home the knowledge and skills they are learning with each of us
  • Tailor education to coincide between programs to strengthen the message to both youth and adults. Allowing stronger educational take home points.
  • YMCA Mobile Kitchen acts as a mobile education site that can fill education gaps on the service map.
  • Bridge educational initiatives currently in place to strengthen the overall goal in nutrition education to reflect a decrease in the percentage of food insecurity and increase percentage fruit and vegetable consumption. These bridges act as strongholds and ensure a direct reflection of where education gaps truly exist.

Policy and Systems Change
Groups present: MANNA FoodBank, Youth Empowered Solutions, Mission Community Investment
Key Strengths/Resources:
  • Expertise on best practice models
  • Existing programs, trainings, etc. offered to the community
  • Network of providers
  • Connections with agencies across other sectors

Key Ideas:
  • Align multiple funders in support of broader, multi-year projects
  • Engage general public, key community leaders, and youth in addressing food insecurity
  • Train youth as community leaders, and adults to work with youth
  • Leverage existing networks to expand connectivity between programs and resources, and the people who need them
Strategies and Ideas:
  1. Existing Program with Potential to Grow: Food Insecurity Screening and Referral Pilot project (MANNA) utilizes MANNA’s expertise in the client-choice pantry model, and connects to Mission’s network of providers, who are streamlining and unifying practice models that incorporate connections to community resources.
  2. Growth Opportunity - Youth in the community are an untapped resource in creating access to food assistance with less stigma.
    1. Youth Empowered Solutions has experience and expertise in engaging youth as community leaders and they can share training for adults working with youth
    2. Mission has athletic trainers in many schools across the county through its Sports Medicine programs; this is a potential connection point between programming and students, who establish rapport with athletic trainers that they may not have with other adults. Opportunity to engage students who may be in need and connect with student ambassadors for food insecurity resources
    3. MANNA has Packs for Kids partners in 16 counties, allowing early engagement of kids in youth leadership opportunities
    4. MANNA and Youth Empowered Solutions can share advocacy training, possibly engage youth as advocates for their communities’ food security
  1. Growth Opportunity – Community Alignment and Awareness
    1. Engaging community funders to align with CHA priorities and direct more resources to critical work
    2. Engage community members and leaders through Poverty Simulations, creating a deeper awareness and level of engagement for the general public and decision-makers
    3. Connect with community groups (ex. churches within MANNA’s network) to support needs like transportation through their existing resources
Environmental Change
Establish a Double Up Bucks program in Buncombe County
Short term result: Pilot a Double Up Food Bucks Program in a small retail market in partnership with Mountain Wise as they pilot a site in a western county.  (Click here for a one-pager on DUFB)

Groups Present: ABFPB, Bountiful Cities, Buncombe HHS

  • Identify second small retail location to participate in pilot. ( French Broad Food Coop is committed).
  • Secure funding for pilot (conversations underway with Community Foundation)

Based on current resources action steps specific to CHIP process:
Develop a system for awareness and community support of DUFB and the role of retail access in addressing food security by:  

  • Request for CHIP network to distribute the AB Food Policy Council Food Action Plan survey to networks and constituencies.  The will inform the work of the ABFPC going forward including the Double Up Food Bucks
  • Present the DUFB program to the CHIP Advisory Council with request for input into Funding and identification of a lead agency as the program moves from pilot to broader implementation.
  • Request formal endorsement of DUFB by CHIP
  • Request that all CHIP partners share the DUFB program information and availability with their EBT/SNAP-using clients/contacts

Monday, November 28, 2016

November Update

Our current Population Health Community Indicators include  Fruit and Vegetable consumption (every 3 years) and Food Insecurity (annual).  We will be attempting to identify more timely data and data that more accurately reflects Food Security (vs insecurity). Some of this frustration may be partially alleviated when we begin collecting performance measure on our strategies. 

Team members will research additional measures around food security, School Free and Reduced Lunch, and Snap Recipient caseload.

Update on Community Activity
o    Double-Up Food Bucks
Developed by Michigan’s Fair Food Network (FFN), DUFB  doubles the value of SNAP/EBT benefits spent at farmers markets and grocery stores.  Dollars earned ($1/ $1 spent) purchasing produce can be used to buy local fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables helping people bring home more healthy fruits and vegetables while supporting local farmers.  DUFB has demonstrated  increases in fruit & vegetable consumption, grocery story profit, and local growers benefit.  The USDA FINI grant has funded the SNAP benefit match with many of these.  The bulk of the funds needed to support DUFB is for the SNAP benefit dollar match.  A local match is required.
A FINI grant likely not feasible this year.  Not all pieces are  in place and biggest piece is who will "house" the grant.  The Asheville Buncombe Food Policy does not have the capacity to "house" the program and that is the biggest current need.  Mountain Wise is possibly interested in becoming a lead but not possible this year. 
ABFPC wants to focus on grocery stores which is where most local folks are likely to shop.  Mountain Wise is willing to help in 1 grocery store pilot in 2017. The French Broad Food Coop is very interested in being the pilot site this year.  This isn't ideal because it's not where most SNAP recipients are shopping but it is scalable for future years.  Also our coop uses the same system that all coops across the state and other Coop's (including Durham) are interested.  Mountain Wise will identify and pilot another store in west.  This is an opportunity to figure out system, work out the kinks and prepare for applying for FINI next year (and scale out regionally and to larger stores.  Food Lion is possibly interested).  Getting the word out to SNAP recipients will be a major part of the planning process.  We are working with the FFN on this.  They have created tool kits with lots of focus on marketing and education.  FFN has made one trip to Asheville to meet with partners and will continue to help advise us on the pilot and assist in applying for the FINI grant.
UNC Asheville and the NC Center for Health and Wellness will help with the evaluation components.

o    Healthy Corner Stores
Healthy Corner Stores are an evidenced-based approach to increase access to healthier foods in small retail settings such as convenience stores.  NC started this work in 2001 as a pilot in the far east NC as part of the Community Transformation Grants Initiative.  A major barrier to creating corner stores is support in knowing how to successful order, display, and keep foods fresh.  The funds to upgrade are particularly challenging.  CTG, YES! And others advocated for a Healthy Food Financing Policy to support upfront costs, however funds were not allocated.  YES presented to the general assemble and partial funds were allocated last year.  The are now working on getting the full allocation in the state budget
Locally, YES is working with a few stores.  Funds to make additional changes in this store are the major barrier for helping one corner store in Montford. 
A RFP is out for organizations who want to work with YES on creating Healthy Corner Stores.  The deadline is quick.  If you know folks or have folks who are interested in working with youth, please have them contact Diana.
This could also be a great opportunity to incorporate Double-Up Food Bucks in Corner Stores.
o    Mission Community Investment Awards
Seventeen agencies and 16 projects received Community Investment Awards, Several were collaborative project.  Buncombe County HHS and Feast as well and MANNA and the YMCA were funded.  The YMCA/MANNA project is for clinical referral with Mission Health Partners for the food insecure and using the YMCA mobile kitchen
The next funding will start earlier and Food Security will continue as a focus
Mission is also focusing internally on food security looking at how they are supporting employees and patients in a way that is equitable and accessible (Mission system-wide)

Revisiting and Clarifying Strategies 

       Action plan work to date prioritizes building on local successes related related to 5 categories of intervention approaches.  Using current assets and that can be committed to this work, teams are identifying strategies that 1) establish a community-wide approach to collaborating with and referring to existing skills-based education programs to address healthy eating and food security; 2) Implement a Double Up Food Bucks program in local retail settings; 3) Create a model for policy and environmental change to support food security.  

Next Steps

Summaries of each of this strategies will be developed and shared in December and expanded teams will be developed to being working on strategies.