The Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank debuted its new strategic plan earlier this month. The plan, Deepen Our Impact, will focus on five stakeholder groups in which the organization hopes to focus its programmatic and strategic work over the next three years.

The Foodbank’s previous strategic plan concluded in 2020 amidst the pandemic. “The pandemic stretched us in ways we never thought possible. We experienced as many as 10 years of traditional growth and innovation in just two short years,” said Foodbank President and CEO Dan Flowers. “Though our plate was full in 2022, we knew it was time to get back into planning mode, rather than response and recovery mode, to set the stage for our work ahead.”

Last year, the Foodbank conducted dozens of conversations and focus groups with families receiving food, volunteers, donors, food programs within its hunger-relief network, community leaders and staff to collaboratively develop the new plan. It heard time and again that the Foodbank surpassed expectations during the pandemic – serving families facing hunger with new, direct service programs – and that it should continue honing and deepening this work.

The organization plans to deepen its impact with its neighbors, communities, investors, Foodbankers and Foodbank.

Neighbors are the people seeking help with groceries across the eight counties the Foodbank serves. “The people we serve are the beating heart of everything we do. They are the reason we exist. Their health, happiness and success drive what we do and how we do it,” declares a statement within the plan.

To deepen its impact with its neighbors, the Foodbank plans to solicit and address neighbor feedback, evaluate and accommodate food needs related to nutrition and culturally appropriate foods, and expand its partnerships providing services beyond food.

The Foodbank plans to deepen its impact with its communities, the people and organizations committed to hunger relief, through the creation of community advisory committees and a partner leadership academy. These strategies will support a strong foundation of leadership in its hunger-relief network and ensure the voices of the region are present when the Foodbank makes decisions.

The organization will also deepen its impact with its investors, the individuals and organizations who donate food, time and money. It will continue to celebrate and engage its army of volunteers, will refocus how it partners with companies donating food and engages their associates, and plans to create more meaningful opportunities for financial donors to connect with its mission. 

The Foodbank will also focus its strategic efforts on cultivating its staff, also known as Foodbankers. “We simply cannot have a best-in-class organization without best-in-class people, and we take that very seriously,” said Flowers.

The organization will improve retention, staff connection and wellness by continuing to create a culture that drives engagement and joy, while also investing in professional development opportunities.

Lastly, the organization’s new strategic plan will focus on the Foodbank’s facility. The pandemic made perfectly clear how important it was for the Foodbank to have resources in place before disasters strike, impacting its ability to respond. The Foodbank will stay focused on completing its renovation and expansion project at its Main Campus in Akron and integrating new programming there over the next two years.

“There’s a lot of action and work that will go into bringing this plan to life. But I hope if you take one thing away from our new plan, it’s this – that we believe in the transformational power of relationships. And we are committed to deeper, more meaningful relationships with every person that crosses paths with us,” said Foodbank Vice President Katie Carver Reed.

Click here to learn more about the Foodbank’s strategic plan.