harp-weaver is an independent philanthropic advisory firm based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Teresa Araco Rodgers, the principal, works with individuals and families to gift to issues that matter in a meaningful way.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Latest Edition of the Philadelphia Social Innovations Journal

The fall edition of the Philadelphia Social Innovations Journal was released yesterday. This edition is focused on innovations in public health, healthcare and healthy food.

Continuing their new focus on theme-based editions covering pressing social issues, this issue introduces readers to alternative and innovative ideas and strategies for dealing with the persistent problems facing our region’s and nation’s health and healthcare system.

Included in this edition, is my latest philanthropy column. Both philanthropy and health are individually undergoing profound transformation with much debate privately and publicly. No doubt the result has been and will be a dramatic change in how each field is practiced. This column is about the confluence of these two sectors as it relates to the financial support received by health providers and organizations from foundations and other non-government funders. Here is a quick link.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Hunger Symposium

Today I attended Philabundance's Hunger Symposium. The harsh reality is that more people are struggling to get by and put food on their table. According to the literature from the Symposium, in 2010, 21 million people lived in working-poor families. This translates into nearly 9.6 percent of all American families living below 100 percent of poverty have at least one family member working. One of the most common misconceptions is the assumption that if someone is hungry, that means they do not have a job and are living on the streets. What most people don’t understand is that anyone can experience hunger. It is a silent epidemic that affects 49 million Americans. The Symposium provided a forum to look at the challenges related to food access. Philabundance brought in speakers like Mari Gallagher to better understand the obstacles. Here are some notes:

- When kids aren't in school they stop accessing food programs making summer the most difficult for parents.

- The people being served by food programs need to be involved in the solution. Families who are poor are savvy on how to survive.

- Collaboration is key between the government and nonprofits.

- Why some programs are underutilized: lack of marketing, lack of access, bad previous experience, stigmas around program.

- The original assumptions behind food banks: surplus food would always be available; existing networks of food pantries are ideal distributors; hunger was manageable and could be solved with a robust economy. All of these assumptions have been proven wrong.

- New strategy worth testing: combine nonprofit food banking with a grocery store; maximize SNAP (food stamps) benefits and cash purchases; provide a dependable and reliable supply; provide food free of charge. This is all about promoting self-sufficiency through choice and maximizing food assistance benefits.