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Sunday, April 21, 2024

Kicking Collective Impact Into Gear

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A community can have a powerful impact on a social problem when everyone comes together with a common goal and tools in hand. Think about the times that you have watched a whole city or community deal with a natural disaster, like a tornado or a flood. Everyone seems to converge to solve problems and meet needs: setting up emergency shelters, establishing feeding stations, and organizing clean-up crews to bring circumstances back under control. That is a picture of “collective impact.” It’s not just about the agency that set up the shelter or started the feeding program; there is a common goal that drives everyone, and the results are incredible.

Food insecurity is a public health issue as well as a detriment to a child’s physical, mental and social development. We recently discovered the important work being accomplished by the Bright and Early DuPage collaboratives. These early childhood initiatives help pave the way for every child in DuPage County to enter kindergarten fully prepared, ready to succeed and eager to learn.

Our discussions with members have helped us re-invent options that can meet the needs of almost any young family at risk. New partners, such as the Regional Office of Education, Metropolitan Family Services and Project HELP, have been enthusiastic about working with Loaves & Fishes to reduce food insecurity. Together, we are tackling barriers such as transportation, limited child care and extended work hours to connect low-income families to healthful foods.

Food insecurity is a growing concern, and one that can threaten the success of our community to reach public health and education goals. The alignment of these organizations has strengthened our efforts to reach young families at risk of food insecurity. Through collective efforts, we can find a better approach and find solutions that strengthen our community.

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Jane Macdonald
Jane Macdonaldhttp://www.loaves-fishes.org/
Jane Macdonald is the Associate Director of Community Health at Loaves & Fishes Community Services. Contact her at jmacdonald@loaves-fishes.org or visit www.loaves-fishes.org.
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