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Feeding the Hungry and Homeless in Tuolumne County

Last fall, the Sonora Area Foundation convened at our office a series of four conversations regarding feeding the hungry and homeless in Tuolumne County. The participants in the conversations were organizations that we were familiar with – having provided grant funding for the purpose of feeding the hungry – and included at least two representatives from the ATCAA Food Bank, Interfaith, Sierra Senior Providers (Meals on Wheels), Lighthouse Ministries, Christian Heights Church and Sierra Bible Church.

The conversations grew from questions raised by the Foundation Board of Directors about our grant making for feeding the hungry, and whether there was a way for our grant making to be more effective and efficient.

The conversations were facilitated by Carolyn Lott, who has been doing some excellent work with the Yosemite Stanislaus Solutions group. The topics ranged from services and referrals that each organization does at an individual level, to how the organizations could provide on-going support to each other as a group. An improved and updated web based data base, solutions to transportation issues to feeding sites, food purchasing and nutrition, and training were among the common points of discussion.

For me, it was interesting to watch the six different organizations, having the similar purpose of feeding the hungry, get to know each other at a level that they had not discovered before. By the end of the fourth conversation, they had assigned leadership, scheduled additional conversations for 2015 and planned to bring in other area food providers to the conversation.

On March 23rd, the first quarterly meeting of the new group – now known as Feed Net – was held at the ATCAA office in Sonora. Participants from Tuolumne, Soulsbyville, Groveland and Lake Don Pedro attended for the first time. Although there was some “getting to know you” as a result of new members at the table, the strength of the group to work together in their common mission was evident.

Of efficiencies and effectiveness, I related to the group that I am a believer that ninety five percent of the world’s problems result from a lack of communication. By coming together and openly discussing across the table, Feed Net can address, as a group, their common problems and concerns for feeding the hungry and homeless in Tuolumne County. By planning for how they all can improve upon their efficiency and effectiveness, the Foundation’s grant making will also be improved.

I am optimistic that Feed Net can make a difference in how various organizations feeding the hungry are provided. The Foundation remains committed to working with Feed Net as further projects and topics are identified.