CSML’s marketing efforts in traditional and social media reached volunteers and donors alike by making the mission of the program known to the greater community. Results from cold calls and emails were negligible. However, local media coverage about the program garnered very strong results. Dropping an informational brochure at a farm as they are beginning harvest has worked to alert producers that there is a group willing and available to help collect any excess. Allowing agricultural donors to find the program independently gives them more ownership of the idea and project. Many new donors read an article in the paper, heard the Harvest VISTA on a Saturday radio program, or found the cause on Facebook as precursors to their involvement in gleaning and subsequent donations.
Gauging the amount of produce vs. the time to effectively recruit and harvest is important to maintaining both volunteer and producer relationships. Scouting a property and meeting with the grower allows a chance to ensure that you are not promising more than your organization is capable of. Providing a copy of the Bill Emmerson Good Samaritan Act was often exactly what was needed to ease any farmer hesitance to allow gleaners on their property.
Appreciation of Donors
Each donation was followed with a thank you card to the donor to show them your appreciation. Including a sheet signed by volunteers or food bank clients, provides the grower with information that this is a community supported effort. Provide a tax-deductible receipt, which shows the donor you are aware they donate in lieu of financial gains. Inviting donors to participate in a joint appreciation events with volunteers, allows each group to engage together and continues to remind everyone that this is a community effort that no one person or group can do alone!
Community Services of Moses Lake (CSML) strives to empower the community so that “Friends help friends feed the hungry.” CSML houses the Moses Lake Food Bank and is the distribution hub for 33 partner food banks in 5 counties in Central Washington. These counties include the 3 largest agricultural producers in Washington; Yakima, Benton and Grant counties. In 2012 CSML distributed approximately 120,000 pounds of fresh produce. With the presence of the Harvest Against Hunger VISTA in 2013, that number increased to well over 300,000 lbs. of produce. In 2014, only 68,750 pounds of produce were donated, but in 2015, over 99,675 pounds of produce was collected and distributed. Overall, CSML has collected approximately 757,155 pounds of fresh produce from farmers in the area.