Bringing Public Awareness to Food for All

In a small community, such as Okanogan and the surrounding areas, visibility ranges from word-of-mouth, radio ads, newspaper coverage and general marketing approaches such as flyers and merchandising. A repeat visibility tactic is OCCAC’s annual “Food For All” T-shirt. This year an attempt was made to generate public interest with a T-shirt design contest. Visibility online was accomplished this year with the incorporation of a Facebook page with daily or weekly updates and a revamping of the “Food For All” blog. Our social media was mentioned in our quarterly newsletter and a link to our blog is on our OCCAC website. Radio ads were utilized to find applicants and volunteers for the P.L.A.N.T. project during the winter months, which helped set-up recruitment efforts to pin-point agencies during early spring. Countywide outreach via flyers and brochures was also a way to gain visibility. One approach this year was a “branding” toward the marketing of “Food For All” by incorporating the T-shirt logo design into all documents, flyers and online materials, in the hope that recognizing an image would tie the variety of programs together. 

Visibility was also attained through collaborative projects with existing local non-profits or educational programs. Some of the following partnerships expanded OCCAC’s organizational presence in 2012:

  • OCCAC Garden Outreach efforts were partnered up with East Omak Elementary School, which resulted in a long term garden installation on the existing East Omak garden site, as well as two semesters of bi-weekly assistance with the East Omak After-School Challenge garden program. The efforts at East Omak ended up synergistically assisting both programs, one of the students in the after school program brought her enthusiasm home, and her family qualified to receive an outreach garden through the G.G.G.T. grant. Other students of the after school program also participated more directly in home gardens following the course.
  • Cooking Classes at OCCAC were having attendance and interest problems, so the classes were brought to organizations and audiences that were glad to learn. OCCAC cooking classes have since been an emissary tool to connect with the Community Cultural Center and Family Health Centers in Tonasket, Pateros High School, Omak Cornerstone Church, and potentially Room One in Twisp.
  • In terms of Gleaning, OCCAC would not have been able to receive 72,700 pounds (74 percent of total gleaned produce in 2012) of food bank produce, without partnerships from AmeriCorps, Wal-Mart, Magi Cold Storage, The Masonic Lodge of Okanogan, as well as Gebbers’ Farms and Crane and Crane from Brewster.

Press coverage is another useful tool. Beyond networking and future alliance-building to aid the program, press coverage was achieved through this collaboration. Strategic press coverage tactics should be utilized for starting a produce recovery program, as it is crucial for the program’s success. Designate a press coverage cycle for the program prior to the growing seasons or any off-season events in order to attain visibility within your community. In rural communities, such as Okanogan, often the press for the local paper would be called ahead of a volunteer event and would pay a visit to the gardening or gleaning site. For example, a reporter received an email with the gleaning announcement a few days prior to an event.  The reporter responded and sought more details. Using the host site’s chain-of-command, press coverage at the gleaning event was approved and the gleaning donor was informed of the upcoming coverage. With approval from the donor, the press attended the apple glean and coverage was attained. Another incident of press coverage occurred when OCCAC received a shipment of beans in beer boxes. Everyone’s joke for the day became, “The Food Bank is giving away BEER!” News traveled to the local paper, and OCCAC got a complimentary article for their food programs.