Up Close with Eric
Fall is here! The weather has been awesome the past few days and I’m hoping it will continue for all of us throughout October.
The photos from the Family Celebration at the Food Bank were amazing! I was driving through Charlotte at the time after attending a Feeding the Carolinas meeting in Columbia, SC that included some important topics for our work and the network of food banks across the Carolinas. Still, I hated to miss it and I’m sorry I couldn’t be with you. I want to thank the Engagement Committee and everyone who made the evening something special.
As you will see in the Performance Highlights, there are so many impressive happenings around the Food Bank. While we face challenges to respond to the incredibly high need, I’m proud of how our team is doing all they can source food, seek creative ways to get food where it is needed most, explore new partnerships, and work towards even more impactful strategies.
Speaking of strategy, at the end of October, we will produce our first update on the progress being made on our Strategic Plan. When released, I encourage you all to read the document and realize how we are doing a very impressive job of moving our work forward. More to come on this once we release the update.
In addition, Casey will be visiting with each department in the near future to review updates to our Employee Handbook. Much of the changes revolved around required language due to changes in the law; however, I’m pleased to share that we have officially added Juneteenth as a holiday in acknowledgement of this important day in our nation’s history. Your advocacy, especially from the JEDI Council, was key to our presenting this to the Board – thank you.
Finally, I want to share four brief reflections of appreciation of your work. It is always hard to do this when so much great work is happening; however, I needed to share these stories with you:
I was so impressed by our Ops team along with other members from across the organization for their patience and spirit as they completed our most recent community food distribution in Bermuda Run as a consistent rain came down all morning. With 200 cars lined up before 6 am, it speaks to the difficulties faced by our residents, but you were there for them – helping address car trouble, managing some young volunteers to make sure everyone was safe, and ensuring that everyone is served with dignity and kindness.
Farm to Second Harvest, the second largest event we hold, was another great success. What impresses me so much is the collaboration between the talents of our Providence team with the skills of our Philanthropy & Community Engagement team. Together, they create a unique experience that exposes community members to our impressive, life-changing work.
I’m in constant awe of our catering team and the job they do. Each week is busy, but recently there has been a multitude of large events, including their support of Farm to Second Harvest; receptions for Junior League and a group of our own donors; and an amazing experience for the Kiwanis Club, which has supported our Food Bank for years. Trust me, these are just a few of the many activities that they are managing in our building.
Our Partnerships & Impact team is all over the place – literally and figuratively – and that is a good thing. Building new school partnerships; increasing the capacity of our partner agencies; guiding us toward a more robust approach to nutrition through all of our work; matching and managing over 260 grocery stores with our partners; or creating the next group of leaders in Greensboro – this team is doing an impressive balancing act to help us strengthen our work and our region.
As always, so much happening... and I have to stop typing at some point. Please know how proud I am of you and how honored I am to work beside you.
Greeting Second Harvest Team –
It has been an energizing last couple of weeks!
As the weather allows, I hope you'll find a moment at lunch or another break to walk through the Clyde Fitzgerald Teaching Garden. Beth Sarmiento has done a great job with it, and I appreciate the many of other staff and volunteers involved in this work.
I want to share a few updates and thoughts with you today.
Amazon Web Services and Cloudwick
This month, we hosted members of the Amazon Web Services and Cloudwick teams to explore an incredibly innovative model for accessing and using data to enhance our work. While we are still early in the process, Amazon and Cloudwick were highly impressed with the thinking and possibilities of this project design. Matt Nooe, in collaboration with Cailey Neuschaefer, led the creation of this work and the related initial proposal that has drawn such wonderful attention from Amazon. Over the coming weeks, we’ll work with Cloudwick to submit the formal proposal to Amazon as part of a nationwide competition for significant grant funding and technical assistance support.
Catalyst Kitchen National Summit
We were honored to host the Catalyst Kitchen National Summit. Our selection as host was the direct result of our collective work and Jeff’s and his team’s leadership of our Providence Department work in the culinary training world. Thank you all for showing our special guests a warm welcome, as you do every day for our volunteers and visitors.
Welcoming New Board Members
We continue our Board Orientation for seven great additions to the Board that was shared with you in an earlier message. As we move ahead with additional planning around Second Harvest University, I will be offering a condensed version of our Board Orientation for those who may be interested. It will focus on the role of the Board while providing an overview of the items/areas that we review with them.
Significant progress is being made to finalize a number of items to get us to a “complete” project. The freezer that had the floor problem is now operational, our generator has been connected and will soon be tested, the PlaceOS conference room and check-in software is almost ready to go live, and the separator is ready to go (just getting training in place). In the area of “still in progress”, the Reed Street freezers are still multiple weeks away from coming online, a number of smaller (yet vitally important) electrical items still need attention, and there is a list of around a dozen other modest actions that need to be done, including ongoing tweaks to the technology. Thank you for your patience as the settling-in process continues.
After a short break, our Executive Committee and Board will get back into full swing with their monthly meetings. There is a lot on the agenda, including a review of the Team Member Guidebook, approval of an Investment Policy, discussion of our emerging Nutrition Policy, and, over the coming months a review of the status of our strategic plan activities – more on that in future messages.
All of you received the message from Collin about the planned staff lunches. I do hope you’ll join me for these gatherings with colleagues. As shared, there will be no formal agenda – just a time for us to get to know each other better as well as an opportunity to ask questions of me and other team members. It is a great chance to learn more about the work each person is doing, but also more about each of you personally. I’m very excited to have this time with you!
I do want to thank everyone involved on our internal committees. Through the monthly Feeding Community team newsletter, you’ll be getting a full update on their happenings and they are impressive. Your work is appreciated on behalf of the entire team and our organization.