197464 Evaluation of a food bank venture into social entrepreneurship

Monday, November 9, 2009

Nancy Cotugna, DrPH, RD , Department of Behavioral Health & Nutrition, University of Delaware, Newark, DE
JoAnna Popielarski, MS, RD , Health, Nutrition and Exercise Sciences, University of Delaware, Newark, DE
Human service agencies throughout our state report that demand for basic needs has increased 25-50%, putting an increased demand for assistance on food banks. Concurrently, food and grocery industry changes have substantially reduced donations to food banks. Items formerly given in quantity are now often sold to discount stores and secondary markets for resale or sold overseas. Agencies have emptier shelves and greater food expenditures than ever, requiring creative solutions. One solution pilot tested by our food bank was a social entrepreneurship venture. Social entrepreneurship can be defined as a mixture of the social purpose associated with nonprofits and the creative aspects of commercial business. A small grocery store called “The Market” was opened in our existing warehouse at minimal expense with a goal of making good quality, low-cost food available. The store, open to the general public, is stocked with a variety of salvage goods, “bent and dent,” and basic needs items purchased from online vendors. Profits are reinvested in more products and into food bank operations. A two-book operation is in place and donors are assured that foods sold are never their donated products. Major obstacles were the quantity of salvage goods available and inconsistency of salvage vendors. Products are unspecified, purchased by the truckload and paid for up front, so contents are a surprise. With minimal marketing, customers lined up before opening time, though the pilot location was less than ideal. The pilot proved successful. A permanent facility located in an inner-city, low-income neighborhood is in process.

Learning Objectives:
1.Identify changes in the grocery industry that have led to decreased donations to food banks. 2.Raise awareness of social entrepreneurship in food banking 3.Discuss the successes and obstacles of a social entrepreneur venture in a food bank setting

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: Concept development, evaluation design, project oversight
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.