Thursday, December 21, 2017

Fall Update 2017

Double Up Food Bucks
DUFB has continued to see success with this pilot effort. West Village Market began participating in October as our second retail market.  To date we have 233 participants adding 63 in this quarter.  Over $4,600 of produce was purchased with the with DUFB matching funds!  This is with very little promotion effort.  

One of the biggest challenges so far has been related to what happens at the cash register with the point of sale software. DUFB participants are not able to complete a fully electronic transaction when using DUFB to purchase produce at the FBFC.  The FBFC has been trying to address this with their software vendor but they have been very slow to respond   West Village Market was able to have point of sale software customized for DUFB sales avoiding the challenge below with the FBFC and we hope to be able to address the FBFC challenges soon.

We are also excited to report that an application has been submitted by MountainWise to the USDA for a 3-year, $300,000 grant to expand DUFB in Buncombe and our western counties.

Food Security Collaborative
A subgroup of the Food Security Workgroup has been working to develop a plan for how to build a coordinated structure that allows us to share human resources and assets and to make referrals among our organizations as well as to appropriate safety net programs. The creation of a network structure via MOUs, operation guidelines and a shared measurement system will increase our visibility with community leaders and funders attracting new partners, funding and joint opportunities.  These actions will increase the capacity and sustainability of food security partners and demonstrate the impact of our collective work to address food security. We also recognize that policy and environmental approaches can have a significant impact in addressing food security and our collective voice has the potential to strengthen our advocacy efforts.  

A general action plan for the next 6 months, along with ground rules, a group agreement structure as well as a shared "elevator speech" and inital metrics have been developed for the next 6 months and Leadership Asheville is partnering with us to research existing models that we could apply to this process and will be presenting us with recommendations this spring.  

We also look to be moving forward again with our larger circle of food security workgroup members around shared measures and collaboration for our nutrition education and skill building work. 

Additional News and Activities

In preparation to increase technical support for data and evaluation, CHIP HIS staff worked with the Asheville Buncombe Food Policy Council and UNC Asheville to host an RBA training. This will help the ABFPC prepare to implement and evaluate the City of Asheville Food Action Plan just approved by City Council.  It will also enable UNCA faculty and students provide support with data needs of our CHIP partners.  The training is already paying off. A few days after the training a DUFB program support staff meet with a UNCA student to map out a project for Spring Semester. 

In early December, CHIP HIS staff help plan and host Increasing Healthy Food Access in Rural NC.  Aproximately 30 public health and nutrition professionals from across the region learned about from federal, state and local experts on food insecurity and the policies and practices that impact that security as well as highlighting innovative projects  happening in Western North Carolina and the lessons learned from each.  Two CHIP partners, Ali Caparian from Bounty and Soul and Nan Kramer from MountainWise and DUFB shared their innovative programs.

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.