This summer Catalyst Kitchens launched its new Working Groups Series, and members from across the country have joined discussions on a variety of topics. Below you can find a summary of some of the issues covered so far. If you have not yet participated, it is never too late! You can find the schedule for all the working groups on the CK events calendar. If you would like to join one of the groups, simply RSVP on the calendar.
1. Scaling Contract Meals
The Working Group on Scaling Contract Meals had its second meeting in August. The diversity of programs and systems that can successfully support a social enterprise were on display. The group discussions focused around fleet management and customer service arrangements in school and shelter meal programs. One specific highlight included Farestart’s fleet management and how to expand and manage logistics and deliveries when owning a fleet of vans in an urban environment. Also highlighted was the mutual benefit relationship between Second Harvest Food Bank and Eagle Express Courier in central Florida. Eagle Express handles all pickup and delivery for Second Harvest’s meals, allowing the social enterprise to expand operations without the worries of internal fleet management. Future conversations will cover the topics of diversifying lines of business, as well as client accrual practices and certifications in the school meals industry.
2. Communications & Outreach
How do you market your food service social enterprise? In this group, members are discussing the tools and techniques to building a recognizable brand. As small non-profits, many organizations don’t have the capacity or resources to create the compelling communications assets used by other businesses in their area. What makes CK members stand out? The underlying mission and impact of our work. On the next Communications & Outreach working group call, we’ll hear from members around how they weave stories and anecdotes into numbers and facts reporting to create compelling communications for both customers and funders.
3. Intake & Recruitment
There are many diverse populations served by CK member organizations across the country and an equally diverse approach to how members manage the student intake process. In this working group we discuss the utility of intake elements, such as trial periods (a probationary period whereby a dropout won’t bring down retention numbers) and drug tests (half of the participants in this group do not drug test students as relapse was often unrelated to why students left program). We dive into the interview questions and applications used by members, noticing similarities and discussing differences. Tune in for the next Intake & Recruitment working group call when we’ll explore different presentations used by members during new student orientation.
4. Fundraising & Development
What are your organization’s primary funding sources? In our network, the answer is often a laundry list of foundational grants, federal dollars, philanthropic donors, and diverse streams of social enterprise revenue. How do members navigate through this complex space and what avenues have been most rewarding? In our upcoming call, the Fundraising & Development working group will focus on funding for new business expansion. Select member staff have been invited to speak about their strategies to support expansion projects, including capital campaigns, new market tax credits, and leveraging corporate partners.
5. Food Recovery
CK Members are at the forefront of food recovery. Our first working group call touched on several areas: the logistics of pick ups and issues with storage; value added processing and how to offset costs of production; and where members source their food recovery standards and protocols. Future calls will continue to explore these topics in addition to the role of technology in food recovery and how to work within your local food recovery eco-system.