A variety of methods are used at Good Cheer to keep the organization visible to the community. Use of social media is a quick and simple way to tell stories and generate interest in volunteering or donating. Not everyone uses the internet, so having a presence at community events, posted fliers, and word of mouth or networking are critical components of the organization’s marketing plan. Visibility in the community is as much or more important than an online presence, especially in a small, tight-knit community/place like South Whidbey. Participating in community events keeps an organization in the public eye and can foster a feeling of inclusion – even those who don’t use the food bank or volunteer feel like they are helping when they donate or shop.
Most of Good Cheer’s social media related to the kitchen is centered around different processing techniques used by the produce manager to not only prevent wasting produce from the gleaning efforts and the Good Cheer Garden, but to preserve fresh produce by drying, can
ning, or freezing for the winter months. With Facebook and Instagram, it’s easy to get a message out - not only to the local community but to food banks and farms nationwide through hashtags and storytelling with creative use of photos.
Storytelling through social media helps these people stay connected and can be a great way to reach out for last minute or extra help when needed. Earlier this summer after the VISTA Summer Associate left, Good Cheer had a wave of incoming apple donations from both the gleaning program and individual donors dropping apples off at the food bank. With limited storage space, and more apples than could be distributed, a call was put out through Facebook asking for kitchen processing help, with ideal dates and times and a short description of what was needed.
Other ways to have a presence on the internet to help recruit volunteers or donors are to post available volunteer positions websites like Volunteer Match, Ample Harvest, The Northwest Harvest Growing Connections Produce Portal, and local newsletters. In 2018, the VISTA member used Airbnb’s experience host program to offer a day of picking fruit with the gleaners to Whidbey Island visitors.
Good Cheer Food Bank and Thrift Stores is one of South Whidbey’s oldest non-profits and has been feeding those in need since 1962. The food bank uses an innovative points system based on household size, which empowers clients to choose their own food items in a grocery store setting. Good Cheer’s thrift stores are a favorite local shopping destination, providing shoppers with affordable clothing, housewares, and entertainment. As well as offering a way for the community to reuse and recycle goods that might otherwise end up in the landfill, the thrift stores provide a significant portion of the funding needed to operate the food bank.
In 2009 Good Cheer expanded its commitment to providing fresh produce through a program called Fresh Food on the Table. The program includes an on-site garden, gleaning program, grocery rescue efforts, and the many individual home gardeners who donate their excess produce to the Food Bank. In 2017 this program brought a combined total of 56,276 pounds of fresh fruit and vegetables to food bank shoppers.