Campaign Makes Program Evolution Possible

The Power of Community Campaign was created to help Loaves & Fishes achieve the goals set forth in our strategic plan, including programmatic growth. Thanks to our community’s support to date, Loaves & Fishes is piloting the Client Engagement Model, which will benefit more low-income families by focusing on food, prevention, education and wellness.

What is the Client Engagement Model?

client engagementImagine having an opportunity to sit down with a client, discuss their family’s future goals, and create a plan to address the barriers that stand in the way of their success. That is what the Client Engagement Model will accomplish. We will integrate our Community Food & Nutrition Program and our Pathways to Empowerment programs to address hunger at the core.

How will this evolved model benefit low-income families?

Loaves & Fishes will strengthen our current relationships with clients. We will understand their needs, circumstances and motivations much better, and as a result, we will be able to serve them more effectively and solve their families’ barriers. Our Empowerment Specialists will determine a family’s current level of need using our Self-Sufficiency Assessment Scale. The scale will be crucial to tracking a client family’s progress and success (in ascending order):

  • Thriving: Household is stabilized and meeting needs for over 6 months.
  • Safe: Household is stabilized for 90 day period; currently meeting expenses, managing debt and achieving wellness lifestyles.
  • Stable: Household has stabilized income and housing; currently meets expenses but highly vulnerable to debt; needs occasional support in one of the focus areas.
  • Vulnerable: Inadequate income or resources to support family needs; need for supplemental resources (SNAP, WIC, LIHEAP, etc.); limited capacity in one or more of the focus areas.
  • In-Crisis: No income or employment; low resources; potential/immediate housing concerns.
    The Empowerment Specialists will create an action plan for a client family based on their barriers with a goal to move the family up the levels until they reach self-sufficiency. Overall, we believe this transformation will empower more client families and will create a sustainable solution to hunger that can be replicated nationwide.

    Why is this evolution important to our community?

    LOAVES AND FISHESThe suburbs are increasingly becoming the address of America’s poor. Suburban poverty across the country grew 53% between 2000 and 2010, more than twice the rate of urban poverty, according to the Brookings Institution. For the first time, more poor people live in the suburbs than in cities.

    According to a Social Impact Research Center study in 2012, 7.3% of DuPage County residents live in poverty and 17% are considered low income. As a result, more individuals cannot count on three daily meals. Feeding America’s research shows that 9.1% of DuPage County is food insecure; of this population, 16.4% are children. This is especially troubling considering the link between obesity and being low income. By introducing this model, Loaves & Fishes can impact the physical, mental and financial well-being of our low-income neighbors, which will benefit the community at large.

    How will you achieve success with this model?

    10302159_10152152700250583_4211104904876379955_nThanks to the Power of Community Campaign, Loaves & Fishes was able to hire Duncan Ward, who has more than 18 years of experience in social services, as our Director of Empowerment Programs to work in conjunction with Jane Macdonald, who is now the Director of Nutrition & Wellness. Ward will be responsible for training volunteers how to build trust and create measurable goals with client families. Through client feedback, he will determine if any programmatic revisions need to be made and will continue developing and overseeing outcomes pertaining to empowerment programs.

    Macdonald will be responsible for creating nutrition incentives to encourage clients to enroll in empowerment programs. This integration is essential to our program success since many clients do not understand how to participate in on-site, anti-poverty programs. Moreover, Macdonald will lead efforts to encourage nutritious choices and to educate client families about healthy eating on a budget, so when clients are no longer in need of our services, they are providing a well-balanced meal to their children.