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:
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.
The OCCAC Food Bank serves as a distribution point for all of the food banks all over Okanogan county. We work to glean from local growers, and offer training for raised bed gardening and food preservation techniquest in order to provide a holistic approach to the issue of Food Security.