Client Spotlight: Feeding Caribbean, Inc.
Not all of Foundation Group’s clients limit their charitable activities to the continental U.S. And just like they’ve gone beyond the horizons of the country’s immediate borders, this organization has gone above and beyond in their first year of operations. In a year that left many organizations wondering what the future holds for them, Feeding Caribbean exceeded even their own expectations.
Name of Organization: Feeding Caribbean, Inc.
Organization’s Location: Nashville, Tennessee, USA
Name of Executive Director/CEO/President: Patrick Fitch
Incorporation Date: April 28, 2020
IRS 501(c)(3) Determination Date: October 27, 2020
Nonprofit’s Purpose: Our mission is to feed the Caribbean’s hungry through a region-wide network of members representing each of the territories and further engage the region and its affiliate countries in the fight to end hunger.
Feeding Caribbean will serve in the same capacity as other hunger relief organizations throughout the world. We are building a network of existing entities throughout the Caribbean region already fighting hunger. There are schools, faith-based organizations, and local businesses feeding those in need of food. These efforts are limited due to a lack of funding, resources, awareness, and global support.
As Feeding Caribbean establishes and increases its membership within each territory and across the region, these organizations will be able to share best practices and benefit from increased awareness and support. there are several corporations conducting business in the Caribbean region and want to participate in the fight against hunger, however want to make sure their support reaches those in need. Feeding Caribbean’s infrastructure is financially supported by our main corporate partner. All of the financial support raised hits the ground – literally.
Organization’s Website: www.feedingcaribbean.org
We chose the Foundation Group based on their track record in successfully helping organizations become 501(c)(3) eligible.
We started Feeding Caribbean to address the ongoing challenges with food security in the Caribbean region. There is not an all-inclusive system in place, and there are no food banks. The territories do not have a network in place allowing them to collaborate and work together as one in the fight against hunger.
We secured the website URL and launched our Facebook page in 2012. It remained a vision for years and finally became a reality in 2020. To accomplish this, we looked for people from our network to be leaders on our board who truly cared about the cause and had large professional and social networks they could engage to support our organization.
We currently are working in the U.S. Virgin Islands and the Bahamas. We have “on the ground” partners we are working with in each territory – Methodist Training & Outreach (MTOC) in the USVI and Hands for Hunger in the Bahamas. We have successfully identified donors who supported our efforts to feed homeless, senior citizens, and students in both territories. Our partners are already serving the under-served, which allows us to serve as an advocate and raise funds to support their efforts. We are launching programs – KIDS EAT FREE and Friday Night Food Fights to promote/raise awareness and engage local/regional/national support.
We know the need for KIDS EAT FREE is at an all-time high. Free lunch is offered, however few children eat three meals per day seven days per week. This program includes the upgrade of school kitchen facilities where necessary and the establishment of school gardens using greenhouse and irrigation technologies. The intent is to incorporate the food grown in the gardens into each school feeding program to make these regular meals a reality.
We also plan on launching the Friday Night Food Fights program where we will partner with local, regional, and global boxing associations to knock out hunger in the USVI. These events will provide ongoing community support as they attend, and the proceeds will support our organization and mission.
Our first effort was feeding the homeless in St. Thomas, USVI. We were able to identify a caterer and have them prepare food for us to distribute. We also were able to secure water donated by the USVI government. During the distribution the caterer and a prominent member of the government helped us distribute the food. We fed homeless citizens in three of the most under-served areas in St. Thomas. We also passed out Feeding Caribbean t-shirts. We were humbled by the response from the homeless citizens when they were given a CLEAN shirt to wear.
Remaining focused and true to our reason for starting the organization while learning and understanding why others are supporting our mission. We received a lot of input and suggestions on what we were doing and how we should proceed.
Explaining what a food bank is and how critical they are to a sustainable food system. We have to educate many prior to gaining their support for our mission. When they realize we have 200+ food banks in the continental U.S. and zero in the Caribbean region, they are more inclined to support us.
We successfully launched the organizations, secured 501(c)(3) status, and fed citizens in the USVI and the Bahamas, which is two of our 30 targeted territories, within our first year of existence. We hoped to have at least one feeding effort in the USVI during year one. Instead, we were able to have two feeding events in the USVI and our first event in the Bahamas prior to our one year anniversary!
We have put the Friday Night Food Fights program on hold due to the Coronavirus. We will launch the program once we have more people vaccinated and the declaration from the local government to move forward with heavily populated events.
We are building upon local community, regional, and national support to raise funds and build/renovate two food banks in the USVI. We also will obtain specific support for infrastructure so all of our donations reach those in need. But, our current biggest hurdle is promoting our organization so we are known throughout the region as well as engaging the U.S., England, Holland, and France based companies who are currently conducting business in the Caribbean region, however not supporting any humanitarian efforts in the region.
Successfully executing the event to feed under-served students in the Bahamas. We accepted a request from a donor, identified an “on the ground” partner, and provided under-served students with weekend meal snack packs. We planned on focusing all of our efforts in the USVI prior to expanding our efforts in the other 29 targeted territories. We learned we are capable of expanding our efforts sooner rather than later.
Shipping food from the U.S. to the Caribbean may take much longer than anticipated. We learned we need to plan distribution events 30 days after the shipment leaves the U.S. so we are in sync with the arrival of the food items in the territory.
Share and promote what you are going to do with everyone. Secure buy-in from those who will support you and/or the mission PRIOR to launching the organization. If possible, find corporate entities and individuals already supporting the cause and present opportunities for them to support the “soft launch” of your organization. The more support you have before you officially start the process, the better.
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