Published: Dec 04, 2011 02:00 AM
Modified: Dec 02, 2011 06:20 PM
We were dismayed to learn recently that a rift apparently has developed among three of our best local nonprofit agencies, which share the same important goal and had, until recently, collaborated well to meet that goal.
The Inter-Faith Council for Social Service, TABLE and PORCH all are dedicated to ending hunger in our community.
IFC, the most venerable of the three, feeds those in need through programs including the Community Kitchen, which serves free meals every day, and the IFC Food Pantry, which provides nonperishable foods.
TABLE, launched a few years ago, focuses on making sure children at risk of hunger have enough nutritious food to eat during weekends and school breaks, when free or low-cost school meals aren't available. The group's best-known program sends backpacks filled with food home with these kids to tide them over.
PORCH, also relatively new, is primarily a food collection-and-distribution organization: It collects donated food left on front porches by participating households and then distributes those donations to food programs including IFC and TABLE.
At least, it did so until IFC and TABLE announced recently that they would no longer accept donations from PORCH.
IFC and TABLE say they decided to break off their partnership with PORCH because PORCH this year added a new program, called Food for Families, that uses cash donations to provide food directly to families that, for various reasons, aren't served by other existing programs.
IFC says Food for Families indicates that PORCH has "changed its mission" in a way that is inconsistent "with its original goal to increase IFC food collections" and that the new program "has resulted in public confusion as to the effect of their donations."
The main thing the public is confused about, we suspect, is why IFC and TABLE would reject much needed donations from a reliable nonprofit organization simply because it has started an ancillary program to help even more people in poverty.
From what we can see, the Food for Families program hasn't detracted much from the contributions PORCH makes to IFC and TABLE.
Thus far in 2011, PORCH has contributed a total of more than $80,000 worth of food to IFC and TABLE. That's almost half - 48 percent - of all the food PORCH has collected. Of the rest, 32 percent has gone to other area pantries, and the final 20 percent has gone to Food for Families.
Even if Food for Families were eating more significantly into PORCH's contributions, it's hard to understand why the response should be, "In that case, we don't want any
of your donations."
There may be factors at work that haven't been made public, but from out here the decision to spurn tens of thousands of dollars worth of food donations, at a time when more people than ever need help, is mystifying.
And it could produce unintended consequences. Potential donors might think, "If they can afford to turn down food donations, they must not need my help."
We hope the IFC and TABLE will reconsider their decision and work to restore their partnership with PORCH. Together, they can be more than the sum of their parts.
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