What does success look like at the High Plains Food Bank? Is it equal to increasing our food distribution? Does it mean that less individuals and families are seeking assistance through our member agencies throughout the Panhandle? How does the food bank measure effectiveness?
In the scope of distributing food, 2012 was our second biggest year on record: over 7.1 million pounds of food/product distributed to our 29-county service area. This reflects a 15 percent increase from 2011 (6.2 million pounds of food/product distributed). One third of our food distribution (2.2 million pounds) was fresh produce. In the realm of food distribution, we have seen a dramatic increase in one year. One could say that we were successful in distributing food; the other hand would say it is tragic that more food is being distributed due to the need - and both of these statements would be correct.
To the question of success equaling less people seeking assistance: we have seen the opposite. In fact, we've seen an increase in the number of families seeking assistance in 2012. Over 9,000 families now each month on average are served through our partner agencies throughout the Panhandle (up 13 percent from 2011).
So the High Plains Food Bank has seen an increase in distribution and an increase in people seeking help. Does this make the food bank successful in our mission (which is "alleviating hunger in the Panhandle")? My short answer is no - not until the problem of food insecurity and its root problems are solved will we see any "effectiveness". Upon first glance, this may seem a bit forward or a brash take on hunger. However, our Board of Directors, staff and volunteers' duty is to help alleviate hunger and not just meet the need. Hunger knows no age, gender, ethnicity or religion. It is my mission as Executive Director to continue to move us forward in our mission. Your generosity and support is continuing to allow us to move forward.
This year, we are excited to announce initiatives that will help the food bank advance what I stated above. The food bank will be working on converting its output and measure to our communities into meals served - not just pounds distributed. The food bank is conducting a comprehensive hunger study of our emergency food assistance agencies to help analyze the need they are seeing on a daily basis. HPFB will be working to procure more fresh produce for distribution and looking to exceed 3 million pounds of produce distribution. Other exciting news will be coming as well. Thank you for your continued support to the High Plains Food Bank. Look for us in 2013.