Volunteers are the name of the game. This being the first year Kitsap has piloted a gleaning program, the gleaning coordinator works to network with interested stakeholders, partners, and potential volunteers while showcasing accomplishments. Outreach, engagement, recruitment, and retention are the building blocks to a sustainable volunteer relationship.
Outreach and Engagement
Over the past six months Kitsap Harvest has made it a priority to get involved in the community. This has led to more advantageous opportunities and has propelled forward motion. Whether spending Saturday mornings at the Kingston Giving Garden (a co-op which donates all produce to Sharenet food bank) or attending the Washington Food Coalition conference, Kitsap Harvest has made a commitment to networking and identifying Kitsap’s needs. Kitsap Harvest also works with schools, food banks, gardens, and attends local events. These activities have had productive output for resource development and engagement. Here are the activities and partnerships from this year:
Recruitment and Retention
Kitsap Harvest has done much promotion for the first year of the Kitsap gleaning program. Although a committed volunteer group has yet to be established, a lot of effort has been taken to gain momentum. When recruiting donors and volunteers for a pilot project it’s important to reach them through various communication tactics. Here are some of the strategies used this year:
Retention of volunteers comes with good communication and a positive attitude. Since volunteers aren’t staff it’s important to have a standard but separate set of values. These are some of the key elements:
Lastly, make sure to show your appreciation. Host a thank-you event or send hand-written thank-you cards. Volunteers are more likely to keep coming back if they know their work is well received. And everyone likes being thanked!
Kitsap Public Health District in conjunction with Rotary First Harvest is hosting an AmeriCorps VISTA to coordinate the food recovery efforts throughout Kitsap County. The mission is to create a sustainable, community-based system of broadening food security and alleviating food waste. The objective is achieved by recovering unsalable produce while increasing the amount of fresh and local produce in the eight food banks in the area. The work is done through two farmer’s markets, residential donations, outreach in the community, food banks, and in Kitsap Public Health’s new community garden.
April 2016 launched the program with the arrival of the first AmeriCorps VISTA. Overall the aim is to develop a county-wide gleaning program with the purpose of becoming a permanent volunteer based entity after the three year allotment with AmeriCorps. Identifying and strengthening relationships with local growers, food banks, farmer’s markets, volunteers and the community at large is at the heart of the program. Lastly, the coordination of volunteer based gleaning activities. Kitsap Harvest has the support of the Bremerton Farmer’s Market and WSU Extension. A recent partnership with the non-profit Seeds of Grace resulted in Kitsap Harvest supporting a community garden in which produce will be delivered straight to food banks and will engage the community of all ages.