With a 2018 phone call out of the blue to inquire about donating professional clothing to the Marillac St. Vincent Outreach program, a passionate group of employees from Conagra Brands opened a pathway to partnering with Marillac St. Vincent Family Services. Two years later, this partnership has evolved and flourished through Conagra Brands employee volunteer events and a new workshop series, Eating for Life, sponsored by Conagra Brands Foundation’s Nourish Our Community grant program.
Conagra Brands Foundation believes “everyone has the right to healthy and nutritious food. However, this is not the reality for many, as food insecurity exists in every county of the United States.
Identifying the Need
To make an impact and raise awareness of food insecurity, Conagra Brands Foundation engages our employees, partners with leading local and national nonprofits, and inspires others to create a world where people have access to the food they need to reach their full potential.”
The Marillac St. Vincent Outreach Program focuses on providing person-centered support to individuals and families in the community. In working 1:1 with individuals and providing a Client Choice Food Pantry, the Outreach Program identified areas to provide additional support through group learning that addresses the interconnectedness of food access, finances, knowledge of basic nutrition, and life skills such as meal planning and budgeting.
After being nominated for the employee-driven grant program, Conagra Brands Foundation invited Marillac St. Vincent to apply and ultimately awarded a grant to support this new program. The Outreach Program proposed, Eating for Life as a pilot workshop series focused on combatting food insecurity and enabling individuals to reach their full potential.
Launching a New Program
The Eating for Life pilot was officially launched in early 2020 and aims to build individual skills and knowledge around cooking, nutrition, budgeting, meal planning, and healthy choices to improve quality of life over the course of seven experiential learning-based workshops. Upon the successful completion of the workshop series, participants will increase their competency and understanding of how food, health, and finances are connected while maximizing their access to food and reducing hunger.
"I’m really excited to get some tips to help stretch my dollars to last me through the end of the month"
-Eva Skye, Eating for Life Participant
“One intentional element of the workshop series is the ability to design the content of the workshops with knowledge of the individuals sitting at the table with us. This allows us to remain person-centered and take into account dietary preferences, food allergies, skill knowledge, and much more.”—Jenny Mohan, Outreach Program Manager
“As a vegan and as someone on a fixed income, it’s hard to balance my diet of mostly whole foods with the budget I’m working with,” said workshop participant Eva Skye, “so, I’m really excited to get some tips to help stretch my dollars to last me through the end of the month and maybe gain some skills in the kitchen along the way.”
The Eating for Life workshop pilot is currently funded for two cohorts of participants to experience this program. “From partnering with community organizations, sending individual letters to current program participants, and passing out flyers, we had over 25 individuals express interest in participating. Each cohort has space for 10 individuals. We choose to run two cohorts for the opportunity to receive feedback from participants, evaluate the design of the workshops, and implement what we learn into cohort two. It’s important to us that participant and community voices remain a vital part of Eating for Life.”—Tramaine Martin, Outreach Program Manager