Community participation in our food campaigns has been nothing short of magic! In two weeks, 2,900 shoppers donated more than $33,000 for food for 350 children in TABLE’s Summer Program. During our first food campaign, shoppers donated more than $32,000 for 100 families in PORCH’s Food for Families Program. We want to share what happens behind-the-scenes to make each campaign work, in particular how those funds turn into food for our community food partners to distribute.
• 100% of the donated funds are used to purchase food for our partners’ hunger-relief programs. Weaver Street Market uses all the funds our shoppers donate in the food campaigns to purchase food for our partners’ designated programs. We absorb the costs of designing, promoting, and implementing the campaigns, and we also absorb the labor costs of ordering, receiving, sorting, and delivering the food donations. Our partners incur no expenses.
• We design the food campaigns around the same high-quality foods we sell in our stores and also the specific needs of our partners. When planning each food campaign, we meet with our partners to learn about their programs and food needs. We visit their food sorts and tag along on deliveries to learn about the logistics and constraints that shape their work. Then, we identify the foods we believe our shoppers will be excited to donate.
With the TABLE campaign, we needed to plan 7 to 8 pounds of kid-friendly food—just enough for the kids to tote home from their summer school programs. The food needed to provide substantial nutrition for one child for the weekend, and it needed to be non-refrigerated and ready-to-eat or easy for a child to prepare. We balanced an assortment of raw fruit and veggies with snacks made from healthy grains and packages of prepared foods—soup and mac ’n cheese. We also added foods that the kids would find “tasty and fun”—pints of fresh blueberries, sunflower nut butter, and sliced oat bread from our bread bakers.
The logistics for the PORCH campaign were simpler. We came up with a list of fresh natural and organic vegetables, fruits, and eggs to feed a family for a week. We also added a few “tasty and fun” items to the list, including seasonal fruit such as clementines, strawberries, and blueberries. PORCH does not have a permanent, climate-controlled facility for its produce, so each month we store the food in our Food House facility and truck it to their delivery locations on the appointed day.
• Our partnerships allow us and our partners to focus on what we each do best. What Weaver Street Market does best is “buy and sell food.” What our partners do best is “connect food with those in need.” For these campaigns, we leverage our buying power as a grocery retailer to purchase the food at a much lower cost than our partners could.
For example, we turned each $30 donation to the PORCH campaign into a 35-pound box of produce. The retail value PORCH would have paid would have been close to $60 per box. The funds donated through the food campaign freed up other cash donations to PORCH, who used them to purchase two whole chickens for each family in the Food for Families Program.
For the TABLE campaign, we were able to buy the non-perishable items en masse and store them at our Food House facility. We were also able to work out additional cost reductions with our vendors, who valued our work with the hunger-relief organizations. By the end of the campaign, we had reduced the cost of the backpack food from $15 to $12 per backpack, which means the donations now provide food for 2,800 backpacks. That’s food for TABLE’s 350 kids for all 8 weeks of TABLE’s Summer Program. Our hope is that the results of this campaign will help position TABLE to reach 500 children by the end of the year.
• Our partnerships create opportunities for the community to donate their time as volunteers. Each month, volunteers meet at our Food House facility to help us sort and box the produce that we’ll deliver to PORCH. We’re in the process of creating opportunities for our staff to volunteer this summer for TABLE. We’ll be announcing plans for community food sorts for two of the weeks of TABLE’s Summer Program. We’ll post details later in June.
Weaver Street Market has committed to a hunger-relief food campaign each quarter. Our third food campaign in September will benefit two local food banks: Orange Congregations in Mission (OCIM) and the Inter-Faith Council for Social Service (IFC). Our fourth food campaign in December will benefit our Cooperative Community Fund, which makes annual donations to local nonprofits working on projects related to access to healthy food.