Local Partners Collaborate to Build Community Food Access Resource for the Mahoning Valley

(June 17, 2020 – Warren, OH) From the start of the COVID-19 crisis, Mahoning Valley funders and civic organizations worked together to share information, leverage their support and ease the burden on organizations working to serve the community and respond quickly to the most pressing requests during the pandemic. One such request was access to food for Valley families.

In response, lists from multiple sources were transformed into The Mahoning Valley Food Pantry Map. The effort, made possible by a two-month collaboration between the Raymond John Wean Foundation, Community Foundation of the Mahoning Valley (CFMV) and Eastgate Regional Council of Governments (Eastgate), gives families critical information on the hours of operation, location and resources available at the sites across the region.

“We are proud to have assisted the Wean Foundation and the Community Foundation in this endeavor; by working together, we were able to develop a site that will better serve our communities in need, now as we persevere through the pandemic and in the future,” said Jim Kinnick, executive director at Eastgate.

Using Eastgate’s technical savvy and GIS mapping tools, and insight from Wean and CFMV, the three groups worked closely with food pantry providers to learn more about individual operations and coordinated efforts between providers.

A regional, cross-sector discourse focused on the Mahoning Valley’s economic health began in early 2019; a cohort from the larger group, including CFMV, Eastgate and Wean, later joined Communities of Excellence (CoE), a national learning collaborative. CoE’s framework provides a proven, systematic approach to aligning and strengthening the effectiveness of community and

resident efforts. The collaborative culture, data-driven focus and coordinated organizational strengths experienced through the CoE participation set the stage for the creation of the Mahoning Valley Food Pantry Map.

“By leveraging our strengths, together, we were able to rapidly respond to one of the area’s most fundamental needs during crisis, while also developing a tool that will provide valuable information to the community for years to come,” said Jennifer Roller, president of The Raymond John Wean Foundation.

Access to the online resource can be found on the Wean Foundation, Eastgate and CFMV websites.

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