Situation #4: Food for Thought
Kirkpatrick, Kylee
Monson, Matthew
Ralph, Tammy
Warren, Michele
Watson, Michelle
Salt Lake Community College
Communications 1010-031
June 24, 2011
Situation #4:
Food for Thought
In the current economic climate, local food banks, as well as other dispensers of donated goods, are chronically
running short of important items. These dispensaries typically see a surge in donations during the holiday
season, but these surges are generally short lived. The increased number of people seeking assistance, coupled
with an overall decline in donations due to a shrinking donor base, has resulted in a deepening of scarcity cycles
in various locations. This creates additional stress on populations that are served by the dispensaries and makes
the management and distribution of the goods more difficult.
In situation four, the local food bank is experiencing both a short term, and chronic shortage in food goods. With
the issue of acute versus chronic shortages, mimicking the holiday donation cycle is doing little to address the
overall problem. A solution is necessary that addresses both the chronic and acute issues of food shortages.
Our group created an organizational model that may be used by small groups of 5-12 people who have limited
time and resources to address shortages with many situations. This model seeks to create relationships
between groups and individuals that can deal with chronic shortages on long term basis. Short-term solutions
will occur naturally as a result of pursuing these relationships.
Our working group used Dewey’s Reflective-Thinking sequence as a guide for analyzing and addressing the
problem of chronic shortages. The purpose of this sequence is to help groups and individuals define and analyze
a problem, establish criteria for the possible solutions, and to consider, implement, and follow up on these
The following is a detailed description of how our working group applied the reflective-thinking sequence to
create an organizational model which can be used to address chronic and acute shortages.
Step 1: Define the Problem
In order to define the problem, we put it into a clear, concise, single sentence question:
“What is the best way we, as students with limited time and budgets, can help the food bank increase its
current stock and reduce chronic and acute shortages?”
Step 2: Analyze the Problem
Each member of the group was assigned this step individually at our initial preparation meeting. We
came together in our planning meeting and presented what we had found. The following are the aspects
that were identified and discussed by each member:
1. Characteristics
Situation #4:
Food for Thought
Our group found that running out of important food items was a problem for the following
Shortages create additional stress on the populations that are served by local food
They create management irregularities which make the distribution of pantry items and
volunteer coordination difficult
Long term shortages can create a competitive environment for the populations that are
supplementing their resources with donated food items
Continued shortages can threaten permanent closure of local food banks
We identified the following aspects of the problem:
A sharp decline in donations due to a shrinking donor base
Past donors are now seeking relief from food banks and can no longer donate
Elderly and disabled populations who rely on regular support from area food banks
are forced into insecurity
A shortage of new donor possibilities to meet the increased demand
A lack of creative problem solving, networking, and innovation to meet the
unusually high demands for food
It is believed that the future effects of chronic shortages may include, but are not limited to the
2. Stakeholders
A deepening of the scarcity cycle
Increased numbers of marginalized workers and families
Increase in the homeless, unemployed, and crimes related to scarcity
The following are the groups that we identified as being affected by the problem, and some of
the ways they are affected.
Elderly and disabled
o Will have to choose between nutrition, medications, and shelter
o Have limited physical, mental, or financial resources for identifying alternate
sources of nutrition
Newly unemployed, underemployed
o Temporary situations can become permanent without assistance
o There is a potential for long term dependence on charitable sources when
the temporary needs are not met.
Homeless adults and youth
o Subsistence and at-risk populations suffer from lack of other resources due
to their socio-economic status
o Increased likelihood of crimes related to scarcity
Situation #4:
Food for Thought
o Incarceration as a means of survival
Food bank staff, charitable workers, volunteers, and charitable networks
o Loss of diversity in charitably networks due to closures
o Tradition of giving and volunteering stunted
o Burnout, stress, cynicism becomes more prevalent in larger culture
o Food bank closures lead to more dependency on other charitable networks
Step 3: Establish Criteria for a Solution
In our planning meeting, we set the criteria for judging our possible solutions.
The following is the criteria we decided to use.
Is duplicable by other groups and can be applied to other shortages
Involves a range of different community groups and individuals
Can be accomplished with a limited time investment
Creates a long term relationship and solution to address chronic shortages
Involves networking with existing groups and resources
Adheres to SLCC policy
Has little to no cost to implement
Step 4: Consider Possible Solutions to the Problem
Our group brainstormed possible solutions to the problem. In our planning meeting each person
presented the solutions that they had come to as part of their pre-meeting tasks.
The possible solutions:
Food drive at a SLCC campus
Attaching a food drive to some type of existing event
Asking for food donations door to door
Cold calling corporations to ask for donations
Setting up bins in grocery stores to collect donations from shoppers
Warehouse theft
Raising money through bake sales, car washes, etc.
Step 5: Decide on a Solution
We considered the solutions as a group by using our criteria table (Refer to Appendix III). Some
solutions were ruled out immediately, such as cold calling, and warehouse theft, others seemed more
A food drive held at one of the Salt Lake Community College campuses seemed like an obvious solution.
It was something that was easily repeated by other groups and there were no extensive monetary costs.
We realized, however, that it would not have a long term effect.
Situation #4:
Food for Thought
We then considered a door-to-door donation drive. This option would involve the community and could
be accomplished in our limited time investment criteria. We did not choose this plan because it was not
a long term solution, and may have hidden transportation costs.
The next solution was to hold a food drive in conjunction with a local event. This option was replicable,
involved the community, and, if the tasks were divided effectively, would not require more than 5-10
hours per volunteer. Holding a food drive in this way would bring the needs of the local food bank to
the attention of a wider audience, and used networking in a way that could create relationships with
other individuals and groups that could be incorporated into future fundraising projects.
After deciding on this solution, we analyzed our problem from a broader perspective. The approach
could be applied to a variety of situations over long periods of time to help the food banks remain
stocked year round. We created an organizational model that could be applied to a variety of different
situations (Refer to Appendix I)
Step 6: Implement the Solution
In our second meeting we determined how the solution could be applied to a specific situation to
resolve our presented problem.
The following is an example of using our situation with the local Arts Festival:
Stage 1: The main coordinator will gather all participants and assign roles
Stage 2: The model group will discuss tasks related to attaching a food drive to the local arts
Stage 3: Each model group member will fulfill their individual roles. Specifically,
Main coordinator follows up on the progress of each model group member.
Beneficiary Liaison contacts the local food bank to discuss specific needs.
Event Liaison contacts the local arts festival to arrange holding the food drive at
the event.
Volunteer Liaison seeks and begins organizing volunteers and creating phone
Media and Advertising liaison identifies free advertising sources and prepares
advertising materials for circulation.
Stage 4: Weekly meetings are held in which problem solving, scheduling, task assignment, and
planning occur. At this stage, the featured tasks are for the beneficiary and event liaisons. They
will inform the other members of what is required and those members will organize their roles
tasks accordingly.
Situation #4:
Food for Thought
Stage 5: Weekly meetings are held in which problem solving, scheduling, task assignment, and
planning occur. The beneficiary and event liaisons will inform the other members of what is
required and those members will organize their roles and tasks accordingly.
Stage 5: Site will be set up and goods gathered at event.
The logistics coordinator will ensure that any issues are resolved on-site.
Stage 6: Break down of on-site supplies and the delivery of the donated items will be
completed. The logistics coordinator will again ensure that on-site issues are resolved.
Stage 7: There will be a project review meeting where the model group will review any
improvements that can be made to the planning for their next project.
Step 7: Follow Up on the Solution
As a follow up to our solution our team asked ourselves some key questions and determined possible
Is there too much dependence on volunteers to successfully complete the group goals?
Recruiting volunteers early to staff projects is vital for the success of volunteer based solutions.
Networking with existing groups, and advertising the need for volunteers will begin early and be
repeated often to ensure enough volunteers. Within the organizational model the volunteer liaison will
be responsible for recruiting, organizing and informing volunteers.
What If event organizers are not interested in helping with the donation drive?
Offer free publicity as a means of making their participation in the donation drive worthwhile. Examples
of free publicity could be inclusion of the event in a student newsletter, a public service announcement
on student and community radio station, and attaching the event to any additional advertising that the
model group pursues. It should be emphasized to the event organizers that the group will be providing
their own staff for the on-site collection of donated items.
Chronic food shortages in local food banks are a serious problem that hurt our population as a whole. Despite
efforts to resolve this issue, the shortages are increasing in our current economy. Creative problem solving is
necessary to find solutions that will address the acute and chronic needs of our charity groups. If these
shortages continue, we may see more crime, lower living standards, and an increase in the homeless and
With our goals for a long term result, limits on monetary and volunteer resources, our desire for a system that is
duplicable, involves the community, and uses networking to increase results, we have developed a solution that
Situation #4:
Food for Thought
will assist in resolving this issue. Our organization model is a system that can be utilized with any event and for
various shortages to address the long term need of charity. As with any solution, issues may arise, but as long as
the group stays focused on their goal and fulfills the necessary roles they can create a success in addressing the
shortages of their local charity.

Group Project – Food for Thought – Final Report