The seventh step in the start-up phase of food council development is to get feedback from the community and possible council sponsors.
Why is feedback important?
Without support from the community, a food council has no legitimacy. Without support from the community, a food council will not be able to affect change.
Gathering feedback is an important step in determining whether the community will support your work or not.
In addition, sponsors for the council are needed to ensure the long-term viability of the council. Sponsors provide any manner of resources – from financial to in-kind support . Giving potential sponsors a chance to weigh in on the creation of the council before the resources are needed builds buy-in and goodwill toward the effort. Waiting until things are already finalized and polished doesn’t give the sponsor a chance to get in on the ground floor – to have a voice in the design.
What does the process look like?
The first step is to pull together the work the organizing group has done into a simple document, what we typically call the charter.
Then a set of questions are developed to get feedback about the charter.
The next step is to identify the audiences from whom the group most needs to hear. Typically, the organizing group will identify the groups or individuals that are most likely to have an opinion AND are in a position to support (or undermine) the council’s success. They often revisit the list of people who came to the public meeting.
The organizing group then divides up the list and each member personally solicits feedback from the key stakeholders they know best. The group may also choose to send the survey and charter out via a bulk email, targeting lists of people who have expressed interest in food council development in the community.
The feedback is compiled and the organizing group incorporates the feedback into a final draft of the charter.
In this way, those that provided feedback have a vested interest in the final outcome, and the future work of the council.
What else should you consider?
It is sometimes difficult for an organizing group to do its work if the group is too large or attendance shifts from meeting to meeting. Thus, the organizing group often restricts its size and limits participation to those who commit to attend all meetings and do the homework between. This narrowing down of the group can be counterbalanced by providing ample opportunity for feedback, thus providing another critical reason for the feedback process.
Tools & Resources
The following tools and resources are helpful in thinking about getting feedback.
- Generic Draft Charter
- Cabarrus County Food Policy Council Charter
- New Brunswick Community Food Alliance Charter