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Profile: @yegfoodbank

19 August 2009
by
Edmonton Food Bank

Industry sector : Non-Profit/Food Bank

Twitter ID : @yegfoodbank
Followers :1,032
Following : 1,954
Ratio followers/following : .52

Number posts : 408
Account created : April 2009
First post :  April 2009

Why:  YegFoodBank is Canada’s oldest foodbank.  Their board was reluctant to begin a social media program, however a position was created to, in part, begin outreach on Twitter.  The website is  written in traditional non-profit-ese, using a calm and professional tone throughout.  The Twitter account is beginning to speak more informally and strives to engage readers with ways they can assist the food bank.

URLS: http://www.edmontonsfoodbank.org/
Twitter: http://twitter.com/yegfoodbank
Bio link : http://www.edmontonsfoodbank.org
Facebook : http://www.facebook.com/pages/Fill-Up-of-Edmontons-Food-Bank/214377415174
Flickr:  flickr.com/tags/yegboodbank, http://www.flickr.com/groups/fusedlogicfoodbank/

About: “Each month, approximately 15,000 people receive hampers from Edmonton’s Food Bank or one of the over 160 agencies, churches or food depots with which we are affiliated. The Food Bank also distributes food to more than 250,000 meals and snacks each month. Approximately 40 per cent of clients served are children under 18.

Edmonton’s Food Bank is also a referral agency.  When individuals call the Food Bank looking for assistance, they are asked questions about their situation such as their name, address, family size, source of income, and what has happened that has left them short of money and food. During this intake process, the individual may be provided with information on other helping agencies or groups such as low-cost housing, collective kitchens, free meals, free or low-cost household goods or clothing, a food co-op, employment information (resumes, access to fax and phone), Health For Two (pre-natal health connection), emergency shelters and immigrant services. Our volunteers are also able to provide information on welfare benefits and other government assistance programs.

Edmonton’s Food Bank was born through the realization of two factors by a small number of individuals from various local non-profit organizations: hunger was affecting the lives of many of their clients and edible food was being wasted in the community. There was a desire to reconcile these realities and to establish a channel for surplus food from the food industry to those who were experiencing food insecurity.

In April 1980, an ad hoc committee began investigating the possibility of establishing a food bank to serve agencies located in the inner city. Interest was high among these agencies to provide meal or snack programs to people in need. With funding provided by the Marian Centre, an official from Second Harvest Food Bank (Phoenix, Arizona) was asked to attend a workshop to provide his expertise. Following several meetings, an official steering committee was appointed by the participating agencies to carry out the planning for the Food Bank until the organization became legally incorporated and an official Board of Directors was elected.

On January 16, 1981, the Edmonton Gleaners Association, more commonly known as Edmonton’s Food Bank, received its official charter of incorporation and Canada’s first food bank was born.

 

(5) Analysis

A. General

(A.1) Background: A  The food bank logo is highly visible and , By using the generic background, @gleaners reduces the effectiveness of the background and misses out on the story-telling opportunity. 

 (A.2) Avatar: B Use of the logo is nice, but it needs to be re-sized to maximize effectiveness.

(A.3) Transparency: D Doesn’t provide any information about who is tweeting or why.

(A.4) Bio:  B-  While it provides information on the organization, it is very formal.  It does little to establish a conversational tone expected by Twitter.   “To be stewards in the collection of surplus and donated food for the effective distribution, free of charge, to people in need in our community.” 

B. Tweets

(B.1) Replies:  24%
(B.2) ReTweets: 26%
(B.3) DM requests: ?.
(B.4) Hashtags: 91%
(B.5) Favorite tweets:  Are you going to the Downtown Farmers’ Market on Sat.? Say hi to Judy, our volunteer coordinator, who is ringing the bell at 9 am. #yeg  
One of #yegfoodbank’s youngest donors brings a handful of peas. http://twitpic.com/di9s6 Pls think of Plant a Row http://bit.ly/bOyw2 #yeg

(B.6)

C. Questions/Suggestions
(C.1)Questions unearthed?: With such a robust Twitter community, it is curious why more social media options aren’t being used.  Also, “fusedlogicfoodbank” seems to somehow be associated with the food bank, but it not addressed in any of the material on the website or on Twitter.  This makes following them difficult. 

(C.2) Suggestions for Improvement:  Use the bio as an opportunity to break down formality and really reach the audience with the amazing story of Canada’s first recognized food bank.

E.  Conclusion

The Gleaners have begun a strong dialogue with their community. As one of the oldest food banks in the United States, they have a great deal to be proud of and to share with their co-hort.  They are extremely interactive, but could actually increase the amount they share about the day-to-day activities at the food bank.  At this point in time, they have a great opportunity to increase the level of information they provide to the Twitter community, especially to those just learning about the organization. Currently, the tweet frequency is somewhat erratic, going from eight the first month of the account, to 142, 91, 123 and 44 in subsequent months.

Enhanced transparency and biography will help set them apart from other organizations, as will a unique background to continue telling the story of hunger and how they achieve their mission.  Tweets about their mission, their unique approach to combating hunger as well as the cost-cutting measures mentioned in the mission section of the website would be beneficial information for their donors and other food banks.

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