Marketing and Visibility
During the first year of the Community Food Projects, the VISTA’s work has primarily been building relationships – and therefore visibility and recognition – within the local community, specifically among other emergency food relief and food security groups whose partnership will be beneficial for the success of the projects. These relationships have been foundational to the initial development of programs and by actively participating in and leading these groups, future VISTA’s will find many new opportunities and resources to grow the projects.
Most effective in building visibility has been participation in the Peninsula Food Coalition group and the Olympic Peninsula Healthy Community Coalition group. In the PFC, the VISTA should take an active role in administration, note-taking and organizing meetings, and with connecting PFC members to one another and to regional resources and contacts.
This role is important in maintaining the VISTA’s connection to on-the-ground efforts of different agencies where the Extension’s programs and projects are directly relevant and can support and expand efforts. Through the OPHCC group, the VISTA will be able to connect to broader health and wellness organizations across the county, many of which have volunteer networks and are also actively engaging with food resources and meal-providing services. Both of these group meetings are ideal times to announce and promote the VISTA’s projects that are relevant to food access and security, as well as to make any asks (for volunteers, resources, sponsors, donations, etc). Particularly in the PFC group, the participants are highly invested in local food security and this meeting can offer an excellent space for the VISTA to brainstorm and troubleshoot project issues, as the PFC members are very well connected and frequently have suggestions and opportunities relevant to project outcomes. The established partnership with Peninsula College can also be a lien for promotion and increasing visibility among a younger audience that is often seeking volunteer and community engagement experiences for their resumes, as well as using the community food resources during their financially stressful student life.
The VISTA should also employ social media to promote events, seek volunteers, and generally engage with – and inform – the community. The WSU Extension Facebook page is always a good place for Community Food Projects, but the partners cultivated by the year one VISTA are also very willing to cross-promote and share information to their audiences. These include the Port Angeles and Sequim Food Banks, Compassion Clallam, Peninsula Behavioral Health, Food Not Bombs, the Interfaith Alliance and the OPHCC, and most anyone else with a social media presence would also probably be open to posting VISTA materials. Other ways to reach out to the community about Food Projects are by tabling at farmers markets and using the local newspapers and radio stations to reach the many folks who are less virtually connected.