Published: Dec 11, 2011 02:00 AM
Modified: Dec 09, 2011 11:38 PM
When PORCH was founded to organize neighborhood food drives, I signed up as a neighborhood coordinator. I welcomed this coordinated, volunteer effort to facilitate donations for TABLE, IFC and St. Joseph CME Church. However, just because your intentions are good doesn't mean your efforts will necessarily yield the desired effect.
PORCH kept adding more and more pantries and eventually created its own distribution channels. In business, competition is healthy. In the nonprofit world, many donors frown upon a multiplicity of service providers in a small community. Furthermore, the IFC now finds itself in direct competition with PORCH for local funding sources.
If IFC donors increasingly give to PORCH, while PORCH continues to expand its distribution, IFC's food supply could be jeopardized. The IFC board voted (unanimously with one abstention) to terminate our association with PORCH in order to ensure our pantry's long-term viability and better serve its 3,500 households. IFC leaders are not saying that we don't need food! IFC is asking its donor base, built up over almost 50 years of providing safety-net services in our community, to give food directly to IFC.
I believe PORCH should have remained true to its original mission which filled a unique niche in our community: organizing neighborhood food drives. Collaboration strengthens the community. Competition is unproductive, especially given the current economic crisis and limited funding. Instead of creating new services, it is usually more effective to support those with a proven track record. IFC's pantry has been serving our community since 1970.Elizabeth GarfunkelChapel Hill
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