It takes a network of dedicated professionals and constantly resilient collaborative efforts at the local, state, regional and national levels to have hope of effectively combating an issue as pervasive as hunger. Fortunately there is such a network, and it’s comprised of professionals who share the common goal of providing safe and nutritious food assistance and resources to a regrettably growing number of neighbors in need. Achieving that goal, even in small increments, builds momentum and tangible examples of community building in the truest sense of the phrase.
Our national food bank leadership comes from Feeding America, the fourth largest charity in America. Their efforts include providing our network’s structural foundation, developing corporate and governmental food sourcing capacity, as well as developing empirical data to raise awareness along with the level of discourse concerning hunger in America.
The collective partnerships between Feeding America’s national office, The Montgomery Area Food Bank, our PDOs and the local community agencies we support, target and realize increasing efficiencies while maximizing impact each step of the way. Together, we are bigger, better, stronger and more effective.
THE MONTGOMERY AREA FOOD BANK (MAFB) is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit, doing everything possible to combat hunger and food insecurity in 35 of Alabama’s 67 counties through a framework of philanthropic, logistic and educational programs. We connect people, food and resources to satisfy emergent hunger needs, while targeting healthier outcomes and self-sufficiency.
We routinely interact with municipal, state and national organizations including; U. S. Departments of Agriculture, Public Health, and Human Resources, Family Guidance Center, Hands On River Region, and the Salvation Army. As well as FEMA, and the American Red Cross during times of emergency and disaster relief.
We are responsible for four Partner Distribution Organizations (PDOs) - smaller Food Banks in Tuscaloosa, Selma, Auburn and Dothan. Our support extends to more than 800 local community agencies throughout 24,921 square miles of metropolitan and remotely rural areas. Our efforts are orchestrated by fewer than 30 professionals who are aided by a daily average of 10-15 unpaid volunteers. Of course this is all done at no cost to those receiving assistance.
As the largest food bank in Alabama we have always operated under the ethos that the impact of every donation and gift must be maximized. There is simply no room for inefficiency. As with most nonprofit entities we are involved in a year-round effort to offset operational costs.
Philanthropic support is rightfully associated with a fiduciary responsibility to ensure that every effort is being made to target the generosity entrusted to us to derive the greatest impact on its intended purpose. Recognizing this, continual process improvement is an MAFB standard deliberately woven into the fabric of quite literally everything we do.
Our commitment to the stewardship of the support entrusted to us has been verified externally, and lauded for transparent financial documentation and fiscal responsibility. Our annual administrative and operating costs represent a mere 3% of our net value. In other words, 97% of our funding goes directly to support our mission of combating hunger. This figure is derived by an independent accountant using standard nonprofit food bank bookkeeping practices, which include inventory valuations.
However, at MAFB we go a step further to provide a truly transparent evaluation of our commitment to efficiency. So, we always run the numbers again - this time without including inventory valuations. The results reported within our Annual Report, show that MAFB still operates with just 16 percent of our net value (minus millions in inventory) going to annual administrative and operating costs.
Regardless of which equation you use MAFB finances and transparency set the standard. GuideStar Exchange once again declared us to be a, “Gold Participant: This organization is aGold-level GuideStar Exchange participant, demonstrating its commitment to transparency.” In FY-14 MAFB also received the highest rating of 4 - Stars specifically for sound fiscal management and commitment to accountability and transparency from Charity Navigator.
The composition of the processes we engage while fighting hunger is remarkably similar to each link in the chain leading to providing assistance to communities, families and individuals. However, where things change are in terms of scope. For Montgomery Area Food Bank, particularly as we've brought our $2 Million building expansion into full service, some of those processes have already begun to morph and adapt to realize increased efficiencies.
Donations Are Made: Food is donated throughout literally every step in the food assistance process. Montgomery Area Food Bank, Feeding America, and our PDOs are most likely to secure corporate-level donations from the food and grocery industries, and government agencies, as well as individuals and other philanthropic organizations. Local community agencies usually rely upon food bank, philanthropic and individual support.
Food Is Moved: Montgomery Area Food Bank and Feeding America are the lead logistical engines, with MAFB serving Alabama as a centralized hub capable of receiving and distributing large volumes of donated food and grocery products through our PDOs via national freight support and local refrigerated trucks. Local community agencies, whose mission includes feeding the hungry, can access donated food through MAFB or one of our PDOs and then move that food again when providing assistance where it’s needed most. However, in the case of MAFB’s Mobile Pantry program, substantial quantities of food assistance are moved directly to those in need.
Food Is Distributed & Stored: MAFB ensures the safe receipt, storage, transfer and reliable distribution of both nationally donated and local Store Donation Program goods to PDOs and local charitable agencies. The exception is, MAFB’s Mobile Pantry program, which has been capable of adopting the principals of right-on-time logistics ensuring substantial quantities of donated food is received and then moved directly to those in need without incurring the expense of utilizing one of the most expensive aspects of food banking - cold storage.
Food Reaches Those in Need: The entire Network’s operating structure is designed to support community building efforts. While the process is ultimately in support of local community agencies providing food assistance, MAFB is what the Department of Defense calls a Force Multiplier: “A capability that, when added to and employed by a combat force, significantly increases the combat potential of that force and thus enhances the probability of successful mission accomplishment.” When it comes to combating hunger, our direct support increases the potential accomplishments of each of our PDOs and every one of the more than 800 local agencies we reach throughout 35 of Alabama’s 67 counties..
MAFB is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and an equal opportunity employer and provider.
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