Looking for some feeding program best practices/policies for our inner city feeding program. We have no documented rules and needless to say it is resulting in chaos.
May 20, 2012 1:41 PM   Subscribe

Looking for some feeding program best practices/policies for our inner city feeding program. We have no documented rules and needless to say it is resulting in chaos.

Our church runs a weekly feeding program in the inner city where my husband and I have been coordinators for about 10 years. We feed around 250 people every Saturday; serving hot meals and also providing a take home table where our guests can bring a specified amount of groceries home with them. As the program and needs have grown, it is apparent that the lack of any posted “rules” is causing a lot of confusion and unnecessary conflict. OK, I’ll put it plainly – it is resulting in chaos!

Rules are discussed and agreed upon during monthly coordinator meetings, but since they are buried in the minutes, they are either not carried out or not enforced consistently. One example: volunteers (if they really need to) can go to the take home table and select groceries to take home but must wait until at least halfway through the program (to eliminate volunteers coming solely to get first dibs on the best selection). Another example: volunteers under 16 must have a responsible adult with them to volunteer.

My husband and I have offered to come up with a straw man of potential rules to post for the leadership team to develop. The purpose is so everyone can not only see them and know them, but also so leaders that need to enforce them and aren't comfortable doing so, can remove themselves from the equation by pointing to the posted rules.

What "rules" do other similar programs have in place (not only for volunteers but for guests/participants as well) and potentially posted for all to see?

TLDR: Our feeding program at church does not have documented/posted "rules" so situations can be consistently addressed by program leaders. Wondering what other similar type programs have as rules for both guest/participants as well as volunteers? Looking for some best practices to take back to our leadership team to hopefully minimize the chaos. Thank you.
posted by hrhcc to Society & Culture (2 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I did not happen to see this when it posted. I happen to currently be homeless, so I participate in a number of these types of programs, and I previously did a lot of volunteer work, some for a homeless shelter. I also had a class on homelessness and public policy.

Some stuff that works well:

Arrange things so participants have as much choice as possible. "One size fits all" dos not work and tends to create unnecessary waste.

Most programs here allow people to go back for seconds IF there is enough to go around. They usually have some means to distinguish the participants into two groups to try to make sure all comers get something. If there is still food left after a first round, you can come back for more.

The less bureaucratic intake process required, the better. The less queueing up, showing ID, signing in etc. there is, the more energy goes into actually serving food, etc.

Try to post info somewhere so people can get an idea of what is available and what the rules are without asking. If someone gets it wrong, try to nicely notify them of the rules without being blaming or accusatory.

Well, that's all that comes to mind for now.

Best of luck.
posted by Michele in California at 1:28 PM on May 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

Thanks Michele for the follow-up. This was out a few days with no responses and I figured there were no responses. My apologies. My husband and I are going to ask some of the various leaders what rules they think apply for their respective areas and come up with a strawman for the leadership team to develop. Once the rules are finalized and posted, the biggest challenge will be having our leaders be consistent so it it the same experience for our guests from week to week.

Thanks again.
posted by hrhcc at 10:25 AM on July 8, 2012

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