By Ed Nicholson
Ever heard that? I have.
My group’s "day job" is working with managers in the 100 U.S. communities where Tyson Foods has significant operations to engage them in activities in their communities. A central component of our strategy is to get them involved in hunger relief efforts.
Way too often we hear the opinion expressed from our folks that hunger is not a significant challenge in their communities. Way too often it’s from people who are quite caring, connected and involved in their communities. The problem is simply that they’re not connected to hunger. When we’re able to involve them with groups who can open their eyes to the hunger in their hometowns, they invariably become enthusiastic hunger fighters. Once they’re engaged, they’re also much more open to donating.
This is happening in communities all across America. We desperately need people in these communities on our side in crafting sustainable solutions to hunger in our country.
My point: Unless the hunger community can come up with better ways to connect stakeholders–and connect them locally–we’re going to be swimming upstream with all of the well-constructed strategies, hard work, and resources that are currently being committed to ending hunger. As an example, if a Congressman’s constituents don’t believe hunger is a significant problem in their own community, how are you going to get them to prioritize resources toward hunger relief when education, healthcare, and infrastructure (not to mention tax reduction) are all clamoring for those same resources? Most in Congress, though they like to think globally, consistently vote locally.
The problem is, we’re so close to the issue, we don’t understand how others can’t perceive its gravity. We believe describing the problem will connect people. As long as people believe hunger is something that doesn’t exist in their own community, all the rational description in the world won’t work.
What tactics do you use to educate and engage stakeholders?