In an effort to take our work to a new level, OPEN M is taking part in an exciting project with the Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank called Voices. Our Foodbank was one of two in the country selected by Feeding America, Fund for Shared Insight, and the Urban Institute to spend nearly two years on a project to develop sustainable ways to collect meaningful feedback from those we serve. OPEN M is one of eight agencies that agreed to participate in this project out of the 500 programs in the Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank network.
This community-based research project positions clients—people with lived experience—as the experts. The Voices project asks for client feedback and changes the perspective of who we consider stakeholders in food security and our fight to end hunger. We are acknowledging the importance of the clients themselves as partners in this work. The project also requires participants (like OPEN M) to implement changes informed by that client feedback to improve our work.
Voices is helping us to really focus on hearing the needs of our clients and doing what we can to make changes to better serve the community. Some of the changes that have already resulted from this project include an initiative to educate our volunteers for better customer service and providing food that is better suited to our clients with special dietary needs whenever possible (i.e. fresh fruits and vegetables, gluten free, and low sodium options). We look forward to discovering more ways to collaborate with our clients in our ongoing efforts to serve their needs.