Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in a non-profit organization but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Kayla Birdsong, CEO of Fresh Food Connect, located in Denver, CO, USA.
What's your organization, and who are your members?
Fresh Food Connect works to build a more equitable, healthy, and resilient food system by connecting gardeners with their communities. Our innovative approach uses technology to mobilize gardeners and redirect an untapped resource-- homegrown food, to support hunger relief efforts in communities across the USA through a highly scalable model. Our mobile app (download for free on the ) allows anyone in an “activated” zip code across the US to donate a small easily or a large amount of homegrown produce to those in your community who need it most, all with a couple of clicks!
Tell us about yourself
I have always had a deep love for food- who doesn’t? It brings us all together and nourishes our lives. But the reality of hunger and our broken food system in this country is deeply troubling to me, so I’ve been working on creative solutions for the past decade.
The reality is that 54 million Americans are facing food insecurity, while 40% of the food in the US goes to waste! At the same time, gardening is the most popular hobby in the country, with 35% of Americans growing. Fresh Food Connect is creating a movement to have homegrown food become a significant part of our country’s food access efforts with the help of technology.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a organization?
I am so proud of the growth that our little nonprofit has seen. We started working in one zip code in the heart of Denver in 2016, helping a handful of gardeners to donate their produce to a couple of hunger relief nonprofits. We’re now working with 60+ hunger relief organizations across 1,500+ zip codes in the Continental US (plus Guam!). Our model will continue to grow, and when we reach a critical mass, it will mean that individuals just like you and me, when working together, can make huge waves in our local food systems.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a organization today?
Think about the triple bottom line– people, planet, and profit- businesses today need to go beyond those of previous decades– individuals are demanding purpose and service in what they support. So make it a key part of your model, not an afterthought.
Surround yourself with people who are even smarter than you are! Your job is to get the team rallied around the company’s North Star, and then let your team fly- build supportive structures for them, give them enough challenges, and let them wow you. Collaborative and inclusive approaches that share power are more important now than ever.
Build a strong network of peers, and then rely on them. Learning from and supporting each other is vital, and it’s truly the only way I’ve survived as a nonprofit leader.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
You can get involved with the movement today. Download the Fresh Food Connect app today, and start donating a little extra harvest tomorrow! The idea is that all our small contributions can make a big impact when we put them together. Can you grow just a few extra tomatoes, heads of lettuce, or maybe even a whole row for your community? All you home gardeners, community gardeners, individuals with fruit trees, and kitchen-herb-gardeners can now easily donate to those in your own community who are experiencing food insecurity with a couple of clicks! Here's how and if we aren't active in your area yet, contact us and help us get started there.
Where can people find you and your group?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solopreneur that you'd like to share, then email email@example.com; we'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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