Living in a rural community is hard at times, and living in a rural community with very limited access to nutritious food is even harder. In my community Eaton, Ohio 18% of children are considered to be statistically food insecure this is a higher rate than the national average of 14.8%. With grocery stores that are frequently out of stock of essential pantry staples as well as fruits and vegetables, one can understand how low income and food insecure families are the most at risk in the community. Many people do not have the luxury of driving to the next closest grocery store (30-40 minutes away) but rather they have to settle for what is available in the community. There is currently inadequate access to nutritious food in the Eaton, Ohio community for families and children, specifically those who are experiencing food insecurity.
My solution will be successful in the scope of this project through the acceptance of my suggestions by program coordinators. I will also know that I my solution is successful ultimately when this program is implemented in at the actual organization Jacob’s Ladder and thus through my solution, children will have adequate access to food over the summer and winter months that they are not in school.
I targeted elementary aged children in Eaton, Ohio with my design solution (through the framework of families with children). I decided to target families with children rather than just children due to the barriers to accessibility to resources for children through their parents.
Subject Matter Expert Interviews
(2) Employees at the local food pantry
(1) East Elementary Success Coordinator
(3) Volunteers of food pantry (6+ years of service)
(2) Founders of Jacob’s Ladder Program
(3 H) Observed the local food pantry
(2 H) Observed school options with success workers
(1 H) Observed current community grocery options
(2 H) Observed the Services of the Jacobs Ladder Program
Current Eaton, Ohio Residents
(50 Responses) 8 questions 1 open forum for comments
Takeaways From Research through the lens of SWOT
The strength that I see specifically is community engagement. In my survey around 85% of people said that they were willing or very willing to volunteer with organizations combating food insecurity. This is huge, as the biggest gap that seemed to exist at the organizations that I observed was a lack of volunteers to run all of their programs.
The weakness that I see are the barriers to entry for kids to actually get food. Many children have to depend on parental initiative for their food security which can cause a lot of issues for kids who might actually need the resources.
The opportunity that I see is the creation of a summer break food program for children, as that seemed to be the dream of nearly every subject matter expert that I interviewed. There are also many people who want to partner with these organizations though their local church, so churches are absolutely an untapped volunteer base.
A threat that I noticed is the lack of public transportation for families and children to get to these resources. If we actually create these summer programs, there has to be a way that families can engage with them that does not require them to have transportation. Transportation has to either be provided or the resource must not require transportation on the end of those receiving assistance.
I decided to expand the offerings of the Jacob’s Ladder Backpack Program into the summer and winter breaks for elementary aged children. This program sends home weekend meal kits home with food insecure children every weekend of the school year to supplement the food that they would usually be receiving from the school. They currently serve about 255 elementary aged children in Preble County.
Design Process + Testing
I have decided to create a three phased approach to create a summer break initiative for food insecure children that is piggy backing off of the previously mentioned Jacob’s Ladder Program. I call this initiative the Share Your Strength: summer break initiative. This initiative is focused on creating a real and sustainable program to implement for Eaton, Ohio children.
Phase 1: Garner support and volunteers in the community specifically thorough churches and church partnerships.
Phase 2: Connect with the success workers at each school to make sure that we are reaching families in need.
Phase 3: Launch the program.
For the purposes and scope of this project, I decided to just focus on phase one’s objective of sourcing volunteers and support in the community. I did this also through a phased approach volunteer pipeline.
Phase 1: Introduce Jacobs Ladder
Jacob’s Ladder and the Share Your Strength initiative will be introduced in a few different ways. Firstly, I focused on a rebrand of Jacob’s Ladder. I refreshed their logo and created a brand around the organization that is more cohesive. Secondly, I created a Power Point that would be shown to church boards and other not for profit organizations that have volunteer bases to draw from.
Phase 2: Touch Points
For physical touch points I created a trifold brochure and seat back card for churches and other organizations. These just give people a tangible touch point to get signed up to volunteer. Both of these pieces of collateral point possible volunteers to the website, which is really the whole goal to get their information as a volunteer. I also created a storyboard of a volunteer testimonial video that could be uploaded to their social media or placed on their website. This really helps put a face to the actual organization and initiative itself which again brings people in and points them back to the website. Lastly, I created a squarespace website for Jacob’s Ladder. There needed to be a way to compile volunteer information in a streamlined way, so I included all of their information as well as a volunteer signup page on the website.
Phase 3: Follow Up
You really can’t have a successful campaign without following up with those that are interested in it, so I wanted to make sure that I included some way to follow up with volunteers. I did this by creating a template for a monthly volunteer newsletter that could be utilized by quite literally anyone. I made the design specifically in canva so that Jacob’s Ladder volunteers could easily create the newsletter at their leisure, as they do not have a designer or anybody on staff.
Click Here to View the Jacob’s Ladder website.
Phase 1: Introduction
Phase 2: Touch Points
Phase 3: Follow Up