Development of a leadership training program for the feeding agencies of the Greater Philadelphia Food Bank

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Southern New Hampshire University
As stated in the thesis project, "My community consists of over 650 non-profit organizations. These agencies range in size from the small local grassroots organization to fully staffed, fully funded government/private agencies. They consist of Soup Kitchens, Daycares and Senior Centers, M/R and M/H facilities, Drug/alcohol rehabs and Churches of all different denominations. The common thread that these agencies hold is the fact that they are all "social service agencies" that contain a feeding program that serves low-income individuals in some form whether through hot-prepared on-site meals or emergency food packages. The other common thread that they all share is membership into the Greater Philadelphia Food Bank which is a food collection, storage and distribution center. The collective mission of my community is to end "Hunger". Each individual organization has its own defined method of achieving that result in conjunction with other goals....job training, low-cost childcare, affordable housing, etc...The collective ultimate goal of these agencies, although not clearly recognized in all cases is to end "Poverty". The need as identified through my observation as Agency Relations Director is to strengthen and focus these social service agencies so that they can more effectively achieve positive results within their own communities. It is with this in mind that I began my seventeen (17) month participation in the CED program. The problem as I defined it, existed in the fact that these social service agencies with "good intentions" which had originally been set-up to help resolve the problem, had somehow grown to be part of the problem instead of the solution. I believed that the key was to redirect these agencies so that they could break "the cycle of dependency" and utilize their foothold in the community to "empower" the clients which they now "simply served". It was to that end that I focused my project attentionMy goal was to increase the stability of these agencies by providing increased support. Working as Agency Relations Director and as a liaison between the Food Bank and its membership base, I planned to coordinate activities for these agencies which would help to change the mindset which they now followed and would continue to focus efforts on providing further development in identified areas. A key piece which would help facilitate the flow of this development was an Executive Director who had already shown support in "empowerment" efforts and was open to other development initiatives. Also, what proved to be particularly instrumental was staff support which could be easily focused in those areas identified and a recent increase of agency interest in more "pro-active" efforts . These factors, along with my own progressive ideas, I believed would allow for an easier facilitation of the entire project process.Initially, although, I believed I had a clear picture of the problems, I had difficulty in compiling my problem statement. My original statement read: "If no solution is found for over 650 feeding agencies of the Greater Philadelphia Food Bank within the next five years, these agencies will be forced to either reduce their services or altogether close their food cupboards causing an increase in the number of hungry people in Philadelphia and its surrounding five (5) counties." However, with input from David Miller, professor at New Hampshire College, I was able to re-focus and re-work it to more accurately reflect the real root of the problem... "If no solution is found for the over 650 feeding agencies of the Greater Philadelphia Food Bank within the next decade, these agencies will continue to perpetuate the problems of social dependency thus causing an increase in the number of impoverished people in Philadelphia and its five counties." It was such that I designed and planned a project that I felt would address a key problem within my targeted community." (Library-derived description)