Providing Food Security in the "New Normal"
While the calendar has turned another year, 2022 feels a lot like a new version of 2020, far from a pandemic or crisis-free “normal.” We are looking out at the horizon knowing that we can’t return to working and living like we did in 2019, but rather how we must adapt so we can live full lives, support our community and move forward. At ONT, the guiding voice for how we adapt is that of our guests, our neighbors experiencing food insecurity. We heard from more than 500 households last year that they need ONT to continue offering a hybrid of in-person and curbside groceries and meals. Our focus in the coming months is to make that a reality. It will require new and different resources, some internal re-organization and participation of our guests and from you, our community. ONT is not adapting alone. We are working closely with partners across the region, our fellow food providers across the Lower Merrimack Valley, our leaders, Greater Boston Food Bank, and our local food producers. With change comes great excitement and, sometimes, angst. We’ve spent the last 30 years evolving to break down barriers to food security; we’re well equipped for this challenge.
I look forward to sharing more with you this Spring and working beside you to continue our quest for a Food Secure Region by 2029.
Here's to an early Spring!
Getting Food on the Table in 2022
Joanne's Pantry Opens at Salisbury Senior Center!
Since 2018, ONT’s Food Security Advisory Group has conducted community needs assessments and strategized to raise awareness of food insecurity across all sectors of our community. In 2021, the FSAG completed Community Readiness Assessments to determine which sectors were still learning and which were ready to mobilize and take action against food insecurity. From a Food Security 101 Training for all Amesbury City Department Heads to collecting data on nutrition-related nurse visits in Newburyport Public Schools, FSAG members are leading the charge to ensure all of our neighbors have access to food. In the coming year, ONT will be offering a full calendar of trainings and strategy session with schools, health care providers, law enforcement, and elder services. If you’d like to participate in or host a training session for your community group, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Volunteer Spotlight - Lisa Hayes
Lisa Hayes came to Our Neighbors’ Table at a crucial time in our growth as an organization. She started in 2019 as a reception volunteer and saw that some of the data entry processes in the office could be streamlined with a bit of Excel expertise. Once the staff learned about Lisa's skills and professional background in supply chain management, she was quickly enlisted to help with ONT's inventory system. Lisa became an integral part of automating food procurement, budgeting, and shifting ONT programs to the SmartChoice online ordering system at the start of the pandemic. This made huge strides in ONT’s ability to organize and efficiently distribute food and to be able to pivot quickly to a curbside model when the pandemic began. “Lisa came in with a "can do" attitude, knowledge at a level far above our own, and was able to work with us to listen to what our needs are, thoughtfully develop systems that responded to our needs, and supply the expertise, leadership, learning and actual tools to implement the systems,” Lori Townsend, Program Director, said of Lisa’s impact. Read more about Lisa in this month's Volunteer Spotlight ››
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Lisa Hayes came to Our Neighbors’ Table at a crucial time in our growth as an organization. She started in 2019 as a reception volunteer and while she was in the office, saw that some of the data entry processes could be streamlined with a bit of Excel expertise. After Lisa completed that project, ONT Executive Director, Lyndsey Haight, and Program Director, Lori Townsend, found out about Lisa’s professional background in supply chain management. They asked if she could help automate and review the ONT inventory system. Lisa became an integral part of automating food procurement, budgeting, and shifting ONT programs to the SmartChoice online ordering system at the start of the pandemic. This made huge strides in ONT’s ability to organize and efficiently distribute food through our Warehouse and Market, and to be able to pivot quickly to a curbside model when Covid-19 ceased in-person shopping.
“Lisa came in with a "can do" attitude, knowledge at a level far above our own, and was able to work with us to listen to what our needs are. She thoughtfully developed systems that responded to our needs and supplied the expertise, leadership, learning and tools to implement the systems,” Lori said of Lisa’s impact, “The time, energy and patience she has devoted to ONT have resulted in some colossal improvements to our operations - things that no one else could do - that have been an essential contribution to our ability to provide for our guests and accomplish our mission.”
Lisa says she loves “being able to help ONT achieve their mission while working with staff members as a volunteer consultant.” Lisa is continuing to help in a leadership capacity as ONT looks to improve operations and evaluate additional changes. With the new inventory system in place, different challenges have become apparent. “The Warehouse and Market are very crowded,” Lisa said, “If ONT had more space, it would allow for better flow when bringing food in and out of the building.” Efficient flow is important because easier volunteer mobility leads to better serving ONT guests.
We’re so thankful that Lisa chose to donate her time and expertise to ONT! Lisa received a bachelor’s in Elementary Education from UNH and a Master’s in Business from UMass Lowell. She retired as a global supply chain manager in 2016 after many years of supply chain work that frequently took her to different parts of Mexico to oversee operations and is currently teaching Supply Chain Management and Six Sigma classes in the graduate program at Southern New Hampshire University. Lisa has lived in the area for her whole life and currently lives in Merrimac. In her free time, Lisa likes to do remodeling projects, gardening, taking her dog, Casper, for walks, and handcrafting for numerous charitable organizations.