We caught up with Scott Kindred, Director of Communications at the Community Foodbank of San Benito, California.
Although he is back in the office, Scott says it’s far from business as usual.
Due to COVID-19, they are seeing an increase in demand for their food program services. In a normal year, the non-profit provides healthy food to ten percent of San Benito County residents.
As the food bank prepares to incorporate a Mobile Farmers’ Market (MFM) to their programing, Scott is foreseeing the communication opportunities ahead.
The MFM will not only “reach the residents we’re not yet reaching,” but will be a “communications goldmine,” he said.
A New Channel of Communication
“The first shaft in the mine, if you will, is that we’re going into the neighbourhoods,” Scott says. “That is in itself a new channel of communication between residents and the Food Bank.”
Many residents who could benefit from the food bank services often face barriers getting there, such as time constraints and transportation difficulties.
The Mobile Farmers’ Market will help overcome this: You can’t come to the food bank? The food bank will come to you.
And with it, the MFM will bring the food bank’s mission of building dignity through the power of choice.
Much like current customers can select and have a supermarket-like experience at the food bank, the MFM offers neighbours the opportunity to pick and choose from a variety of healthy, affordable, and now accessible, produce.
In building dignity, sometimes, the medium is the message.
Learn how Maria Lynn Thomas, Community food bank of San Benito, leads innovative projects by building dignity through the power of choice.
Delivering and Amplifying the Message
Secondly, Scott says the MFM will act as a communications tool. It delivers the message that the Community Food Bank of San Benito is “safe, dignified and good quality food.”
Scott describes that some neighbours are often hesitant about approaching the Food Bank and signing up for its services because they associate it with government or federal institutions.
“So they’re cautious about interacting with anything that’s government-related,” Scott says.
To the end of reassuring residents that the food bank is a safe place to visit, Community Food Banks of San Benito has intentionally dropped the word ‘County’ from its name.
“It’s less institutional, less governmental, less threatening,” he says. “The primary message [we are trying to get across] is that it is safe.”
What Community FoodBank hopes to accomplish with the MFM is to create those first interactions with neighbours and generate trust.
Seeing that it is safe to talk to the MFM operators provides the opportunity to “communicate a short concise message on what the food bank is doing in their neighbourhood. How the food bank can help them,” says Scott.
As most communication and marketing efforts flock to digital media, Community Foodbank of San Benito is seeing the opportunity in traditional, face-to-face communication.
“With our current customers, probably the larger challenge is the digital barrier,” Scott says.
Many of the food bank’s customers are not online. Because of a lack of access to technology or low tech literacy among residents that visit the food bank, a great deal of their communication is done either in person or by phone.
According to Scott, the MFM will allow more relationship building with residents of diverse demographics, especially with neighbours who are not online.
“This provides a great opportunity to talk about nutrition in ways we haven’t been able to before,” Scott says. “Being able to talk about nutrition and our food program, [get the word out] on the street, is exciting.”
“So not only are our customers going to tell a friend, tell a neighbour that [the food bank] is safe and that it is dignified, [they will experience that it is quality food]. So we get to amplify that. The more people that talk about us in that way, the more our message will be amplified.”
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