Greater Cleveland Food Bank

Strategic Plan

The Greater Cleveland Food Bank works to ensure that everyone in our communities has the nutritious food they need every day. 

Improving Lives: Fighting Hunger Today and Tomorrow and Connecting Clients to Critical Resources

Here at the Greater Cleveland Food Bank, we fully embrace our core values every day – they include Fostering Engagement:  collaborating with our community; Excellence:  being good stewards of our community and its resources; Empowerment:  educating, encouraging and supporting all those touched by hunger to contribute at their fullest potential; and Dedication to Service: ensuring that we keep the  people we serve in our community at the center of everything we do. 

These values are an integral part of our new three year strategic plan.  In this plan, we are committed to fighting hunger today and into the future.  We will reach even more individuals, families and seniors in need of our help while also beginning to measure our work in new ways to improve client service, access to food resources and outcomes.   

TODAY:   We will continue to provide tens of millions of nutritious meals annually to over 300,000 food insecure clients in Northeast Ohio in partnership with more than 900 programmatic partners in six counties. 

TOMORROW:  We will connect our clients to benefits and our community’s leading nonprofits to help them become more food secure in the future and shorten the line at local food pantries.  No one in our community should have to worry where their next meal is coming from.

In this plan, we are also taking on a new and exciting challenge – we will begin to measure outcomes beyond the traditional food bank methods of counting meals and pounds and determine how we can be most effective in serving clients who are eligible.  In addition to our everyday focus and commitment to our mission, we will begin to measure the “how and why” of what we are doing to improve the lives of the people and communities we serve.  We will collaborate with our community partners to better serve our mutual clients and focus on how our work transforms the lives of the people we serve. 

 We will continue to build on our successes, communicate progress and learn and improve along the way.

Our core mission and values are reflected in the four goals of our new strategic plan which will carry us through 2021.

Goal # 1:  Address hunger today by providing targeted programming and nutritious food to reach more people who experience food insecurity.

We will achieve this goal by providing more of the healthiest, highest quality food possible to our neighbors in our six-county service area and the more than 900 partner agencies and programs that they rely and depend upon.

We will effectively address hunger by: enhancing our targeted programming to serve more people with health challenges, reach more individuals and seniors where they live so they can thrive, and uplift families so children can experience improved health and outcomes. The children we serve continue to be among our most vulnerable clients. Cleveland is #1 among the top 50 US cities for child poverty.  If a child is in poverty, their family is in need as well.  We will enhance our programming to reach more children and their families.

We will do all of this in collaboration with our partner agencies and programs, who are on the front lines in the daily fight to end hunger.  We will continue to share best practices, build capacity and provide support to reach clients even more effectively.   We will listen and be of service to them to help them in their work of getting and serving nutritious food wherever possible.   

Goal #2:  Address hunger tomorrow by connecting people to supportive services to help them become more food secure.

We will help our food insecure clients apply for and access public benefits they are eligible for – namely SNAP, cash assistance and Medicaid -- in addition to other benefits that will help improve their daily lives.  We will monitor approval rates for receipt of these benefits and work to improve upon them, becoming even more of an advocate for the clients we serve.

In order to “shorten the line” and help address hunger tomorrow, we will continue to work on connecting food insecure clients with other non-profits that focus on the root causes of hunger – employment, housing and healthcare.  We will develop practices and procedures to assess and analyze the success of these connections and how they help to make our clients more food secure.

Goal #3:  Improve access and outcomes for the people we serve by better tracking success.

Over the years, we have defined our successes in many ways.  Most recently, we have focused on the number of pounds of food distributed, meals provided and clients served.  Those statistics are quite remarkable in terms of the scope and reach of our work as well as overwhelming in terms of the enormity of the issue of hunger.  Beginning in 2019, we will strive to measure the impact of our work for the people we serve.  The outcomes resulting from this work will help us to provide the best programming possible for our neighbors. 

Reducing access gaps for so many underserved individuals and communities, identifying barriers to service and developing plans to address them will be the intended results of our research and collaboration with the people we serve and our program partners.  In order to successfully achieve these results, we will hold client and partner focus groups in specific identified areas to further improve distribution strategies.

Measuring outcomes and tracking success requires centralized data management and utilization of the most accurate data analytics.  We will focus on better standardization of our data across our organization and promote data-based decision making.  In turn, this will help us to improve accuracy and efficiency. 

Goal #4:  Assess and create capacity to meet our mission related goals.

To meet the dynamic and growing needs of our six-county service area, we must ensure that we have the capacity to do so.  Creating more capacity within many areas of our organization is critical as we innovate, develop and find new ideas and ways to achieve increase levels of food security among the people we serve as well as reach new people in need of nutritious food.

Capital investments are needed to help us meet community needs for nutritious food now and in the future.  Assessing the needs of a 15 year old facility, researching opportunities to expand our kitchen as a social enterprise, and considering an on-site food pantry are all part of a capital investment strategy that paves the way for continued long term impact.

Continuously improving all facets of our operation is an integral part of this goal.  Creating a culture of “continuous improvement” will reap rewards beyond cost savings. 

Advocacy in support of our programs and the people we serve is critical to insuring access to nutritious food as well as advancing the policy fight to end hunger.  By expanding our bipartisan network of advocates at all levels of government, we will strengthen our efforts to support, develop, increase and expand vital programs that improve the daily lives of the people we serve and their access to nutritious food.

Increasing net revenue through all facets of fundraising is critical to support and expand our programming, services and distribution.  In turn, an increase in net fundraising dollars will help strengthen the organization’s financial ability to meet the needs of the community long term.

We will embrace diverse ideas and perspectives to allow each of us to contribute at our fullest potential and create the deepest impact for our clients.  We will make diversity, equity and inclusion strengths of our organization.