GoPacks Maximizes Partnerships to Fight Food Insecurity | News, Sports, Jobs
Over 10% of a local nonprofit’s operating budget has been achieved through a targeted matching campaign, local support and belief in shared mission.
“Our families tell us how much they appreciate the support, but they don’t want to be in a charity program, they want to be part of the team,” said Heather Warner, Executive Director of GoPacks.
The association focuses on the fight against food insecurity in local families by approaching its participating families with a form of contract, a promise.
“You expect things from us, and we expect things from you” Warner described entering the program. “We explain our two-way donation model. “
The program operates in the geographic district of schools in the town of Marietta, serving both public school families and homeschool families, combining skills building with access to fresh food and nutritional assistance. balanced.
But it’s not just about handing out tomatoes and apples.
“Our operating budget last year was around $ 89,600 and covered 150 students with food, workshops, extracurricular activities, trauma workshops for parents, cooking classes, financial literacy classes. and gardening lessons ” Warner said.
And by partnering with the West Virginia Central Credit Union on a pledge to match dollar for dollar up to $ 5,000 in donations over the July 4th holiday weekend, public donors have risen to the challenge and then passed.
Now, the nonprofit can invest a total of $ 10,565 in programming, without restriction, to meet needs, as it also grows through grade 12 in consolidated middle and high school this fall.
“New year, new budget and new students, we will be able to help you” Warner said. “Even with all the changes and the move to the school district, they found a way for us to have a room right across from the renovated cafeteria where we can still have our Pack and Go store.”
In the two remaining elementary buildings, delivery and pickup will continue to function normally.
But the investment is not just during the school year.
Warner explained that over the past two years, using AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer Leah Rake, the nonprofit organization has worked on capacity building and planning to maximize impact, rather than recreating wheel.
“We reach out to the community more when we work together instead of staying in our family bubble”, explained Rake, who is entering his third year with the nonprofit in August.
A global pandemic has put this two-way giving model to the test for the nonprofit and its peers as well.
“One thing we got out of the pandemic was that we needed a base to go to other childcare agencies in the region and share resources… we saw ourselves as competitors,” said Gary Williams, board member of the Ely Chapman Education Foundation. “But we can do things better together.”
On Friday, he stood between estates and juvenile court judge Tim Williams and Tom Fagan, president of the River City Farmer’s Market, in such a strong rally together.
The Right Path for Washington County, another nonprofit, coordinated with GoPacks, Ely Chapman, Wendy’s and the court, all to host a pool party at the aquatic center as well as a free farmer’s market for families in attendance.
“We build relationships and demonstrate that with these kids. Our partner tonight is GoPacks and who knows food insecurity better than they do ”, said Cathy Harper, head of The Right Path. “More than anything, our impact on the lives of these children is about the relationships you make, so you want to stay here for the right reasons to see that there are jobs available, support systems available and that you can contribute. because when you do good, you feel good. “
And for the little ones who love grape tomatoes, Witten’s corn, Huck’s green beans, McConnelsville cherries and Linda Fagan berries: you feel good when you eat well.
“These are the best tomatoes I have ever had,” said Isaac Blair, 12, of Mineral Wells. “Personally, I prefer to have fresh vegetables and fruit over any dessert.”
He loaded his first bag of veg, but came back for a second round of zucchini, yellow squash and looked at the red and white potatoes at the end.
“But earlier, I was picking the fruit from my sister’s bag”, he smiles, a little conspiratorial. “You saw that the fruits went so quickly. These peaches were the first things to disappear.
And the collaboration continues, Warner reported, as the school year begins in August.
“Including with Dr (Nicole) Livengood at Marietta College,” she explained, noting that the applied learning from previous courses helped expand GoPacks programming through research the English teacher conducted with her students.
Janelle Patterson can be reached at
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The Right Path for Washington County will host another free mini farmer’s market in Belpre’s Civitan Park from 9 a.m. to noon on July 17.