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Gaining Ground, Inc.

 PO Box 374
 Concord, MA 01742
[P] (978) 610-6086
[F] (978) 610-6085
http://www.gainingground.org/
[email protected]
Amy Capofreddi
Facebook
INCORPORATED: 1990
 Printable Profile (Summary / Full)
EIN 04-3083976

LAST UPDATED: 08/22/2018
Organization DBA --
Former Names --
Organization received a competitive grant from the Boston Foundation in the past five years No

Summary

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Mission StatementMORE »

Gaining Ground grows organic produce for hunger relief with help from volunteers of all ages and abilities, who work and learn in our gardens.

Mission Statement

Gaining Ground grows organic produce for hunger relief with help from volunteers of all ages and abilities, who work and learn in our gardens.

FinancialsMORE »

Fiscal Year Jan 01, 2018 to Dec 31, 2018
Projected Income $419,704.00
Projected Expense $419,704.00

ProgramsMORE »

  • Farm volunteering
  • Growing organic produce for hunger relief

Revenue vs. Expense ($000s)

Expense Breakdown 2016 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2015 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2014 (%)

For more details regarding the organization's financial information, select the financial tab and review available comments.


Overview

Mission Statement

Gaining Ground grows organic produce for hunger relief with help from volunteers of all ages and abilities, who work and learn in our gardens.

Background Statement

Founded in 1990, Gaining Ground has become a thriving non-profit organization that grows food for hunger relief with the help of hundreds of volunteers—and donates it to Boston and MetroWest hunger-relief organizations.

  • 2010 – Hired new farm coordinators & office coordinator
  • 2011 – Expanded Board of Directors to sixteen
  • 2012 – Purchased tractor
  • 2013 – Added irrigation well and began high tunnel construction2014 – Added irrigation well, high tunnel and permanent fence around the farm, hired Program Manager
  • 2015/2016 – Built barn with the help of over 200 community members. This new structure advances all aspects of our mission and is the center of life at the farm
  • 2017 – Installed a mobile hoop house, which will allow us to grow more food and extend our growing season. Hired first Executive Director.

Gaining Ground grows organic produce for hunger relief with help from volunteers of all ages and abilities, who work and learn in our gardens. We currently cultivate approximately three acres in Concord, Massachusetts and supply fresh, high quality, organic fruits, vegetables, herbs and maple syrup to food pantries and meal programs, most within 20 miles of our farm. We give away everything we grow each year. In 2017, we doubled, since 2013, the amount of produce, supplying over 80,000 pounds of fresh organic vegetables to 13 food pantries.

Volunteers

Gaining Ground believes everyone deserves the chance to give back to others. Community service develops the whole person. Our farmers incorporate volunteers of all ages, abilities, and backgrounds—including youth from special needs programs, urban school groups, high-school students performing community service, Scout troops and a variety of youth groups — and give them the opportunity to grow food and give back to others. Working alongside our farmers, volunteers find meaning in growing food organically and sustainably, and take great satisfaction knowing their efforts provide tangible results for people in need. In our program, hunger relief and community volunteerism are closely intertwined – one would not work without the other.


Impact Statement

Gaining Ground’s organic produce provides 655 families a week access to food that may not consistently be available. As an organic working farm, we provide a welcoming space for volunteers to give back to the community while learning and being active.

Each year on the farm we learn more about digging deeper – getting the most out of the resources we have and nurturing a supportive community. Innovative farming techniques have enabled us to dramatically increase harvests from 21,229 pounds in 2012 to 34,190 pounds in 2013, to 57,731 in 2014, 61,743 in 2015 and 62,073 in 2016. In 2017, we continued to increase our output to 80,000 pounds. These dramatic increases of yield (all on the same piece of land) have been accomplished through the thoughtful use of our hoop houses, greenhouse, no-till farming practices, irrigation system, and healthy soil. We always look to be innovative in our farming to continue to grow more produce on our farm. The more we grow, the more we can give. The goal for 2018 is to work with our current recipient partners to increase the impact of our food while continuing to grow more food.

We are always looking at ways to improve the volunteer experience. This year, we are working on upgrading our volunteer pavilion which serves as the meeting point when volunteers arrive on the farm. We believe we have the opportunity to provide more information on our role in hunger relief, sustainable farming and our recipient organizations.


Needs Statement

1. Hoop Houses.  Our goal is to build four three more hoop houses over the next two years ($25,000 per house)
 
2. $10,000 - $20,000 Field Crew
In addition to educating volunteers about organic farming and hunger relief, our farm offers a unique learning environment for young farmers. 
 
3. Operational Support ($25,000)
 
4. $5,000 Maple Sugaring Program
In late winter, Gaining Ground taps maple trees throughout Concord and Carlisle. Volunteers visit the farm to learn informally about the process of boiling sap down to maple syrup. This is a high-value product that is enthusiastically welcomed by the food programs we supply each year. The approximately six-week program (very weather dependent) is another way that we seek to make the most of the land and resources we have available to further our mission – growing organic produce for hunger relief with community volunteers. 

CEO Statement

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Board Chair Statement

Our mission starts with the land. (We grow organic produce with the help of volunteers and give it all away.) My passion for our mission started on a cold April day, kneeling on wet ground and planting peas. It was fully grown by June when helping recipients to fill their bags with crisp sugar snaps.

This is how it starts with many of our board members. The land draws us in with its beauty and what it provides. Whether you are weeding carrot beds or harvesting beans, you get connected to the land, to the produce, to the folks who need nutritious food. The rub comes when board members realize that board work is more than spreading compost. Of course, from a governance perspective, this is an enviable challenge – passionate, committed board members willing to get their hands dirty, literally. The abstract work of governing – creating strategic plans, committee meetings, fund raising – can feel far removed from where the seed was planted.

The response to this challenge is to build connections among board members, volunteers, farmers, supporters and recipients. Farmers, volunteers, and board members work together in the fields. We bring supporters to the farm to help harvest and distribute food. Most importantly, we engage with recipients with direct food distribution, sharing recipes and learning about their lives. The connectivity helps us see that if we take good care of our land, it yields plentiful harvests which feeds more people. Seeing these connections, I believe, leads board members to understand their broader role of supporting the foundation of the organization. It is easier to understand why a new fund raising strategy needs to be discussed when you have experienced how increased resources have lead to more productive land and more potatoes, beans, carrots in the back of the truck headed to recipient meal programs and food pantries.


Geographic Area Served

METROWEST REGION, MA
City of Boston- Downtown
NORTHEAST REGION, MA

Gaining Ground supplies food pantries and meal programs in the following Massachusetts cities and towns: Boston (02118), Ayer, Bedford, Lowell, Sudbury, Westford, Concord, Carlisle, Maynard.

Organization Categories

  1. Food, Agriculture & Nutrition - Food Banks, Food Pantries
  2. Philanthropy,Voluntarism & Grantmaking Foundations - Voluntarism Promotion
  3. Environment - Land Resources Conservation

Independent research has been conducted on this organization's theory of change or on the effectiveness of this organization's program(s)

No

Programs

Farm volunteering

Gaining Ground is open to volunteers Tuesday – Saturday each week from April until the end of October. The farm attracts hundreds of volunteers every growing season – from 3rd graders to people in their 80s, from Boy Scouts to juvenile offenders, from prep school athletes to the wheelchair-bound. Our farm coordinators match the skills and needs of the people who volunteer with the specific work that needs to be done on a specific day. We believe everyone has something to contribute to the farm.
 
A typical volunteer visit lasts 3 hours. We’re not teaching our volunteers to be farmers. We’re giving them an opportunity to help others in their community, and to learn about growing food in the process. They see tangible results of their labor, and know that the squash they pick today will end up on someone’s table tonight. We believe the work is the learning.
 
We budget this program together with growing organic produce. Please refer to that program for budget information.
Budget  $0.00
Category  Philanthropy, Voluntarism & Grantmaking, General/Other Community Service
Population Served General/Unspecified
Program Short-Term Success 
•    Volunteers on the farm nearly every available day through the growing season.
•    A diverse volunteer population that includes physically challenged or mentally disabled volunteers, juvenile offenders, elementary through college students, a range of faith organizations, corporate groups, families, and individuals of all ages.
•    Repeat visits by volunteers throughout the season or year over year.
•    Participation across the public and private school systems in Concord and Carlisle in farm visits.
Program Long-Term Success 
All members of a community, regardless of age or abilities, have a meaningful and joyful opportunity to give back to others.
 
Meaningful volunteer opportunities serves the fundamental human need to be engaged in an activity with a sense of contribution and of self-value. Volunteerism increases self-esteem, and in turn, the capacity to treat others with respect and generosity. 
Program Success Monitored By  Program success is monitored by:
•    Number of volunteers or volunteer groups that visit the farm each year
•    Schedule of volunteer visits throughout the season
•    Volunteer feedback card suggestions
•    Informal tracking of the diversity of the volunteer population to determine if we are attracting the diverse population we intend to serve
Examples of Program Success 
•    Volunteer groups from Walnut Street Center (a nonprofit that supports disabled adults and their families) have been coming to the farm every season for 10 years. They love working hard where they have a chance to give back to others. Their work at Gaining Ground inspired them to create a community garden at their Somerville location.
•   Over the years we have helped hundreds of Concord-Carlisle high school students fulfill their community service requirements.
•   Our farmers witness individual growth in volunteers: a young man fulfilling mandated community service through Restorative Justice went from shy and uninterested in socializing to happy, focused and excited at finding a place where he belonged; a volunteer with an austism spectrum disorder evolved from disengaged to a productive volunteer over the course of a season.
•   Volunteers report back Gaining Ground's inspiration: starting gardens, pursuing a career in farming, inspiring learning about food and hunger.

Growing organic produce for hunger relief

Gaining Ground grows organic vegetables and fruit on historic farmland in Concord, MA, and gives away all of this produce to area food pantries and meal programs.
 
Currently, we support ten food pantries and meal programs in Boston and the MetroWest region. We also have two direct distributions, Food for Families for Concord/Carlisle residents and Lowell Head Start families, which offer weekly distributions of organic fruits, vegetables, herbs and flowers from June to October,  as well as a Thanksgiving distribution.
 
 
Budget  $157,477.00
Category  Food, Agriculture & Nutrition, General/Other Food
Population Served Poor,Economically Disadvantaged,Indigent
Program Short-Term Success 
Last growing season, Gaining Ground donated 80,000 pounds of high-value, nutritious, fresh organic produce that contributes to an overall healthy diet to families and individuals experiencing difficulty affording food.  2018 goal is to donate 90,000 pounds.
Program Long-Term Success 
Long-term success means people experiencing food insecurity and who turn to emergency food programs in Boston and the MetroWest region have access to organic, high quality, fresh produce in season.
 
Nationally accepted nutrition guidelines emphasize fresh fruits and vegetables as the source for needed nutrients and fiber that support overall health. However, Director General of the World Health Organization observed in 2008 that nutritious foods are often the first to be eliminated when funds for buying food are limited: “Food choices are highly sensitive to price. The first items to drop out of the diet are usually healthy foods – fruit, vegetables, and high-quality sources of protein. … Nutrient-poor staples are often the cheapest way to fill hungry stomachs.” 
Program Success Monitored By 

Gaining Ground’s impact measurement strategy is guided by its two-part theory of change:

Reducing Chronic Hunger:

If Gaining Ground grows fresh, organic produce and delivers that produce to community partners, then community partners will distribute that produce to local families in need, reducing chronic hunger and promoting healthy eating habits that contribute to positive health impacts.

Engaging Community in Local Agriculture:

If Gaining Ground grows its produce with the support of volunteers and creates a meaningful volunteer experience, then volunteers will feel more connected to the land and local agriculture and will take action to donate, spread the word, join the board, or volunteer again.

To measure success, we record two types of data: harvest data and volunteer data.

Harvest data includes date, type, and servings of the produce, and identifies which organizations receive the produce, and how they use that produce. Using pre- and post-season surveys, we collect information from the food programs including the number of people they serve, food preferences, other sources of produce they rely on, and feedback from their guests. Through our direct distribution programs, we are also beginning to collect information from guests about how receiving Gaining Ground produce makes a difference in their day-to-day lives.

Examples of Program Success 

Each year we collect feedback from recipient groups on how to improve our programming. We hear repeatedly that the program is highly valued:

One of our longest running programs is our Food for Families program, and it demonstrates how we address the need for hunger relief in Massachusetts.

Every Saturday morning during our growing season, members of the Concord and Carlisle communities who struggle to make ends meet gather at a free farmer’s market to receive our fresh organic produce. We work with the towns of Concord and Carlisle to prequalify local residents to the market.

Feedback from our Food for Families guests confirms this program is well-received:

· This program is such a treat. I have lived in housing for 20 years. In the past “free food” has not been so nutritious. Thank you for caring about us.

· I had to overcome the shame of asking for help this way and forced myself to go because I have so little for my family. But the environment was so warm and caring and happy.


CEO/Executive Director/Board Comments

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Management


CEO/Executive Director Ms. Amy Capofreddi
CEO Term Start Mar 2016
CEO Email [email protected]
CEO Experience Amy is Gaining Ground’s first Executive Director. Having joined the organization in 2016 as Fundraising Manager, Amy brings a strong background in nonprofit management. Her previous roles include Associate Director of Development at Two Ten Footwear Foundation and Director of the Annual Fund and Leadership Development at the Nashoba Brooks School of Concord. She also served as co-president of the Board of Directors at the Concord Carlisle Community Chest.
Co-CEO --
Co-CEO Term Start --
Co-CEO Email --
Co-CEO Experience --

Former CEOs and Terms

Name Start End
-- -- --

Senior Staff

Name Title Experience/Biography
-- -- --

Awards

Award Awarding Organization Year
Climate for Freedom Award for significantly contributing to the climate for freedom in our communities Concord-Carlisle Human Rights Council 2014
Included Gaining Ground in the Good Food Org Guide - one of five MA non-profits doing exemplary work in the areas of food and agriculture, nutrition and health, hunger and obesity, and food justice James Beard Foundation and Food Tank 2014
Program Innovation Award to Community Teamwork in Lowell for its partnership with Gaining Ground Massachusetts Head Start Association 2014

Affiliations

Affiliation Year
-- --
Member of state association of nonprofits? No
Name of state association --

External Assessments and Accreditations

External Assessment or Accreditation Year
-- --

Collaborations

In 2014, in collaboration with Project Bread and Community Teamwork in Lowell, we began offering a weekly free farmers’ market for families with children at a Lowell Head Start center to help us reach more urban families. The program helps low-income families with young children gain access to the nutritious fresh produce essential to healthy development. During the 16-week program we set up a weekly, free farmer's market and introduced the produce and farming to the children. Families receive a variety of produce each week, sufficient for a small family. Project Bread provided food preparation demonstrations with a chef and nutritional information. The Children's Village at the Mill Head Start enthusiastically hosted the site and helped coordinate with participating parents. 

CEO/Executive Director/Board Comments

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Foundation Comments

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Staff Information

Number of Full Time Staff 2
Number of Part Time Staff 7
Number of Volunteers 2,500
Number of Contract Staff 1
Staff Retention Rate % 100%

Staff Demographics

Ethnicity African American/Black: 0
Asian American/Pacific Islander: 0
Caucasian: 0
Hispanic/Latino: 0
Native American/American Indian: 0
Other: 0
Other (if specified): 10
Gender Female: 7
Male: 3
Not Specified 0

Plans & Policies

Organization has Fundraising Plan? Yes
Organization has Strategic Plan? Yes
Years Strategic Plan Considers 5
Management Succession Plan No
Business Continuity of Operations Plan No
Organization Policies And Procedures Yes
Nondiscrimination Policy Yes
Whistle Blower Policy No
Document Destruction Policy No
Directors and Officers Insurance Policy Yes
State Charitable Solicitations Permit --
State Registration --

Risk Management Provisions

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Reporting and Evaluations

Management Reports to Board? Yes
CEO Formal Evaluation and Frequency Yes Annually
Senior Management Formal Evaluation and Frequency Yes Annually
Non Management Formal Evaluation and Frequency Yes Annually

Governance


Board Chair Ms. Sue Mildrum
Board Chair Company Affiliation Contant Contact
Board Chair Term Jan 2018 - Dec 2021
Board Co-Chair Francine Royce
Board Co-Chair Company Affiliation --
Board Co-Chair Term Jan 2012 - Dec 2016

Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
Penny Austen Community Volunteer Voting
Karen Bechtel community volunteer NonVoting
Linda Booth Sweeney Writer, The Balaton Group, WGBH Voting
John Canally Currently unemployed NonVoting
Theresa Cohen OPR Systems Inc NonVoting
Elisabeth Elden Walden Realty Group NonVoting
Jen Flint Harvard Business School NonVoting
Nina Frusztajer community volunteer NonVoting
Bob Gewecke Corporate Limousine NonVoting
Jessica Huddy Studio-e Voting
Lauren McKown MIT NonVoting
Sue Mildrum Constant Contact --
Susan Mildrum Constant Contact NonVoting
Gretchen Nelson community volunteer NonVoting
Joseph Rigali GW & Wade Associates Voting
Lucy Rosborough no affiliation Voting
Polly Vanasse Community Volunteer NonVoting
Gary Vilchick Retired --
Lisanne Wheeler Tribe Events NonVoting

Constituent Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
-- -- --

Youth Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
Lorin Demuth CCHS Student Voting

Advisory Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
-- -- --

Board Demographics

Ethnicity African American/Black: 0
Asian American/Pacific Islander: 0
Caucasian: 18
Hispanic/Latino: 0
Native American/American Indian: 0
Other: 0
Other (if specified): --
Gender Female: 12
Male: 4
Not Specified 0

Board Information

Board Term Lengths 3
Board Term Limits 4
Board Meeting Attendance % 73%
Written Board Selection Criteria Yes
Written Conflict Of Interest Policy Yes
Percentage of Monetary Contributions 100%
Percentage of In-Kind Contributions 100%
Constituency Includes Client Representation No

Standing Committees

  • Community Outreach / Community Relations
  • Development / Fund Development / Fund Raising / Grant Writing / Major Gifts
  • Facilities
  • Finance
  • Nominating
  • Volunteer

CEO/Executive Director/Board Comments

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Foundation Comments

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Financials


Revenue vs. Expense ($000s)

Expense Breakdown 2016 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2015 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2014 (%)

Prior Three Years Total Revenue and Expense Totals

Fiscal Year 2016 2015 2014
Total Revenue $402,808 $697,783 $452,520
Total Expenses $348,732 $332,051 $266,641

Prior Three Years Revenue Sources

Fiscal Year 2016 2015 2014
Foundation and
Corporation Contributions
-- -- --
Government Contributions $0 $0 $0
    Federal -- -- --
    State -- -- --
    Local -- -- --
    Unspecified -- $0 --
Individual Contributions $367,077 $683,238 $435,179
Indirect Public Support -- $0 --
Earned Revenue $3,500 $3,310 $3,800
Investment Income, Net of Losses $2,128 $1,027 $928
Membership Dues -- $0 --
Special Events $30,103 $10,208 $12,613
Revenue In-Kind -- -- --
Other -- $0 --

Prior Three Years Expense Allocations

Fiscal Year 2016 2015 2014
Program Expense $268,031 $252,805 $196,102
Administration Expense $45,049 $36,482 $38,619
Fundraising Expense $35,652 $42,764 $31,920
Payments to Affiliates -- -- --
Total Revenue/Total Expenses 1.16 2.10 1.70
Program Expense/Total Expenses 77% 76% 74%
Fundraising Expense/Contributed Revenue 9% 6% 7%

Prior Three Years Assets and Liabilities

Fiscal Year 2016 2015 2014
Total Assets $1,154,310 $1,152,660 $748,050
Current Assets $596,582 $790,883 $505,924
Long-Term Liabilities $0 $0 $0
Current Liabilities $6,887 $59,313 $20,435
Total Net Assets $1,147,423 $1,093,347 $727,615

Prior Three Years Top Three Funding Sources

Fiscal Year 2016 2015 2014
1st (Source and Amount) -- --
-- --
-- --
2nd (Source and Amount) -- --
-- --
-- --
3rd (Source and Amount) -- --
-- --
-- --

Financial Planning

Endowment Value --
Spending Policy N/A
Percentage(If selected) --
Credit Line No
Reserve Fund No
How many months does reserve cover? --

Capital Campaign

Are you currently in a Capital Campaign? No
Capital Campaign Purpose --
Campaign Goal --
Capital Campaign Dates -
Capital Campaign Raised-to-Date Amount --
Capital Campaign Anticipated in Next 5 Years? --

Short Term Solvency

Fiscal Year 2016 2015 2014
Current Ratio: Current Assets/Current Liabilities 86.62 13.33 24.76

Long Term Solvency

Fiscal Year 2016 2015 2014
Long-term Liabilities/Total Assets 0% 0% 0%

CEO/Executive Director/Board Comments

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Foundation Comments

Financial summary data in charts and graphs are per the organization's IRS 990s. Contributions from foundations and corporations are listed under individuals when the breakout was not available.

Documents


Other Documents

No Other Documents currently available.

Impact

The Impact tab is a section on the Giving Common added in October 2013; as such the majority of nonprofits have not yet had the chance to complete this voluntary section. The purpose of the Impact section is to ask five deceptively simple questions that require reflection and promote communication about what really matters – results. The goal is to encourage strategic thinking about how a nonprofit will achieve its goals. The following Impact questions are being completed by nonprofits slowly, thoughtfully and at the right time for their respective organizations to ensure the most accurate information possible.


1. What is your organization aiming to accomplish?

Gaining Ground offers a unique combination of hunger relief and community volunteerism. All of the food we grow is given away to people who need it, for free. This refreshingly simple approach lets us focus on meeting the needs of our recipients and volunteers. It lets us provide healthy produce to people who need it most, while offering new volunteer opportunities to a wide range of people and promoting awareness of hunger relief needs.


2. What are your strategies for making this happen?

Gaining Ground employs two primary strategies that have enabled us to achieve our mission:

  • Growing organic, nutrient-dense produce to supply meal programs and food pantries:
    We grow over 300 varieties of organic vegetables and fruits, including many heirloom varieties of tomatoes, summer squash, potatoes, greens, strawberries and more. The diversity of our garden lets us serve our recipient groups well throughout the growing season.
  • Creating a meaningful volunteer work experience for a wide variety of volunteers:
    Gaining Ground attracts more than 1,000 volunteers every growing season – from 3rd graders to people in their 80’s, from Boy Scouts to juvenile offenders, from prep school athletes to the wheel-chair bound. For all our volunteers, the farm is a place to connect to the land, to contribute and to learn. In many ways, our farm is a classroom. We give our volunteers the opportunity to help others in the community and to learn in process. Mostly the learning is context-driven and experiential. One day, if it’s buggy, the learning might be about bugs. Another day, if it hasn’t rained in a few weeks, the learning may be about irrigation.

3. What are your organization’s capabilities for doing this?

The foundation of Gaining Ground's efforts is a combination of seven acres of leased land, farmed organically; a dedicated full-time farmer with seasonal help; a growing network of community volunteers; a hands-on board of directors and vibrant local partners seeking to heighten collective impact in the area of hunger relief.


4. How will your organization know if you are making progress?

We measure the progress of Gaining Ground via a diverse set of indicators, including:

  • Yearly produce production: In 2013, we harvested 32,000 pounds of produce and 40 gallons of maple syrup
  • Diversity of crops: 55 different crops harvested in 2013
  • Number of households: we support over 200 individuals and households via direct distribution of food.
  • Number of volunteers: Over 1600 volunteers worked nearly 5000 hours during the 2013 growing season
  • Soil quality: we continue to improve and measure the over-all quality of our soil through sustainable farming methods
  • Meal programs: we continue to expand the reach of our food distribution to programs such as Pine Street Inn, Loaves & Fishes and Head Start and others

5. What have and haven’t you accomplished so far?

Gaining Ground has had a significant and deep impact on hunger relief through the distribution of fresh produce to meal programs, food pantries and directly to families through its "Food for Families" program.

We have also created a vibrant volunteer community.

We are looking forward to developing the following:

  • Acquiring land for additional production capacity
  • Improving our farm facilities to extend our growing season
  • Creating more community-wide collaborations to achieve even greater collective impact in the area of hunger relief
  • Strengthening our organizational infrastructure by hiring fundraising and program managers