PLATINUM2024

The Vegetable Connection Inc

Connecting Food, Families and Farms

Fort Collins, CO   |  www.thevegetableconnection.org

Mission

Improve Northern Colorado's food resilience by supporting families in need with increased access to nutritious vegetables from our partner farms and nutrition education.

Ruling year info

2011

Executive Director

Nicole Turner-Ravana

Main address

PO Box 812

Fort Collins, CO 80522 USA

Show more contact info

Formerly known as

Friends of Happy Heart Farm Inc

EIN

27-0168821

NTEE code info

Other Food, Agriculture, and Nutrition N.E.C. (K99)

Human Service Organizations (P20)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Communication

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Our community and nation face enormous challenges; economically disadvantaged populations with limited access to nutritious food, a disconnection from where our food is grown and how, declines in new farmers and a lack of essential life skills in the kitchen and garden. According to the Larimer County Food Bank nearly 43,000 people in Larimer County are considered food insecure. This includes one third of all school-aged children. Nutrition insecurity is also an issue in our community. Food insecurity is defined as not enough calories. Nutrition insecurity addresses the issue of access to food that meets the needs of the body to be healthy. We have multiple food deserts in Fort Collins where people live further than one mile from a full-service grocery store so it is difficult to obtain a variety of foods plus the cost associated with fresh vegetables is prohibitive.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Feeding the Families

Assisting low-income families with obtaining vegetable shares from local farms. In addition, the families receive opportunities to attend interactive workshops presented by our Nutrition Education program. Our Program Director works closely with the families throughout the program year to ensure they are successful in obtaining and preparing their vegetables.

Population(s) Served
Adults
Children and youth
Ethnic and racial groups
Families
Economically disadvantaged people

The goal of the Nutrition Education program is to increase awareness and knowledge of the impacts food choices have on health, environment and community. The emphasis is on learning about the nutritional value of vegetables and choosing a wide variety of vegetables.

Workshops are interactive and include topics on preparation and preservation. Sitting down and eating what we prepare and sharing our stories are a part of the workshops to build a sense of community between our families. The families also have opportunities to learn how to grow vegetables through participating in our community garden. Food tastings are provided to our families and the greater community at our partner farms and the farmers' market during the growing season. The families receive a monthly e-newsletter with recipes, nutrition information and news from the farms.

Population(s) Served
Children and youth
Adults

Where we work

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Number of nutrition education events including food tastings and workshops

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Adults, Children and youth, Families, Economically disadvantaged people, Ethnic and racial groups

Related Program

Nutrition Education

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Holding steady

Context Notes

The 19 includes 12 workshops, 6 food tastings and one nutritional wellness class. The percentage of families that attended at least one workshop and/or tasting was 89%.

Number of individuals receiving locally grown fresh vegetables

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Adults, Children and youth, Families, Economically disadvantaged people, Ethnic and racial groups

Related Program

Feeding the Families

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

2023 and 2024 numbers will look similar because of other changes we are investing in other aspects of our programming.

Increasing number of participants eating a variety of vegetables

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Adults, Children and youth, Ethnic and racial groups, Families, Economically disadvantaged people

Related Program

Feeding the Families

Type of Metric

Outcome - describing the effects on people or issues

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

We encourage our families to eat a wide variety of vegetables including ones in all the color groups.

Increase amount of vegetables eaten weekly by participants

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Adults, Children and youth, Ethnic and racial groups, Families, Economically disadvantaged people

Related Program

Feeding the Families

Type of Metric

Outcome - describing the effects on people or issues

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

The outcome is measured against the USDA recommended amount per age group.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

Our Vision is connecting families and farms to inspire life- long healthy eating. Our Mission is to - Improve Northern Colorado's food resilience by assisting families in need with access to locally grown food, supporting our partner farms and providing nutrition education. The Vegetable Connection's activities have been built on the following values:
• Everyone should have access to nutritious food no matter what his or her level of income.
• Supporting local farms that grow using sustainable methods is important for food security and economic development.
• It is important for people to understand how to grow, prepare and preserve food so they can make informed choices about what they eat and how it affects their health.
• Participating in a community nourishes the soul.

Goals: 1) To double the participation in our Feeding the Families program over the next 3 years, with a 20% increase per year. For the 2023 growing season, we will start by offering 55 shares. We also want to offer Fall/Winter shares to at least 17 families, who would then only have one month where they don't have the vegetable support. 2) To offer workshops and food tastings throughout the growing season plus monthly educational emails to our participants and community.

1. Partnering with seven local farms to provide the vegetables.
2. Communicate with community organizations including Neighbor to Neighbor, Project Self
Sufficiency, schools in Fort Collins, Loveland and Wellington, La Familia and individuals to
increase referrals of families. Work to expand our presence in the Hispanic/Latino community.
3. Schedule an interview with each family to complete the application process including verifying
income, filling out the pre survey, identifying their farm and size of vegetable share and
explaining the history, purpose, and objectives of our organization.
4. Build knowledge and community through workshops, food tastings, involvement at community
garden, volunteering and/or participating in farm activities.
5. Completion of post survey.

We have two dedicated staff members and hire interns each year to assist in our programming. We also have seven members of our Board of Directors who are actively involved in fund raising and communicating with our community.

Partnering with other community organizations for both referrals and to provide nutrition education workshops is important in expanding our reach into the community. Volunteers are the life blood of this organization. In 2022, we had 33 volunteers who donated more than 1,000 hours of their time.

In 2022, Feeding the Families assisted 45 families/135 individuals from low-income families in becoming members at a local partner Community Supporting Agriculture (CSA) farm for an entire growing season by subsidizing
their market-priced shares. In the past 14 years , we have served more than 150 unduplicated families in our community. Having begun with just one farm, we now have seven participating CSAs. In addition to addressing families’ needs, we address the need for our local farmers to establish a broad array of community connections, helping to create sustainable viability for their businesses and increase the amount of locally grown food.

Our Nutrition Education program has increased the number of workshops and tastings each year with 11 workshops and 7 tastings in 2022. A community garden was added to our educational offerings in 2019 and has provided a space to learn about growing food and connecting with other families.

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We demonstrated a willingness to learn more by reviewing resources about feedback practice.
done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

    To identify and remedy poor client service experiences, To identify bright spots and enhance positive service experiences, To make fundamental changes to our programs and/or operations, To inform the development of new programs/projects, To identify where we are less inclusive or equitable across demographic groups, To strengthen relationships with the people we serve, To understand people's needs and how we can help them achieve their goals

  • Which of the following feedback practices does your organization routinely carry out?

    We collect feedback from the people we serve at least annually, We take steps to get feedback from marginalized or under-represented people, We aim to collect feedback from as many people we serve as possible, We take steps to ensure people feel comfortable being honest with us, We look for patterns in feedback based on people’s interactions with us (e.g., site, frequency of service, etc.), We engage the people who provide feedback in looking for ways we can improve in response, We act on the feedback we receive, We tell the people who gave us feedback how we acted on their feedback

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

    The people we serve tell us they find data collection burdensome, It is difficult to find the ongoing funding to support feedback collection

Financials

The Vegetable Connection Inc
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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lock

Connect with nonprofit leaders

Subscribe

Build relationships with key people who manage and lead nonprofit organizations with GuideStar Pro. Try a low commitment monthly plan today.

  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

Want to see how you can enhance your nonprofit research and unlock more insights? Learn More about GuideStar Pro.

The Vegetable Connection Inc

Board of directors
as of 02/29/2024
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Claudia DeMarco

retired non-profit professional

Term: 2024 - 2025

Bill DeMarco

Bill DeMarco Music

Scott Hapner

United Way of Larimer County

Kelli Maes

Elevations Credit Union

Sue Thompson

Retired IT professional

Heidi Muller

Colorado Youth Outdoors

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Yes
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? No
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? No

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 2/29/2024

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? Candid partnered with CHANGE Philanthropy on this demographic section.

Leadership

The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
White/Caucasian/European
Gender identity
Female
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual or Straight
Disability status
Person without a disability

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity

Transgender Identity

Sexual orientation

Disability

We do not display disability information for organizations with fewer than 15 staff.

Equity strategies

Last updated: 03/25/2023

GuideStar partnered with Equity in the Center - an organization that works to shift mindsets, practices, and systems to increase racial equity - to create this section. Learn more

Data
  • We disaggregate data by demographics, including race, in every policy and program measured.
  • We have long-term strategic plans and measurable goals for creating a culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.
Policies and processes
  • We seek individuals from various race backgrounds for board and executive director/CEO positions within our organization.
  • We have community representation at the board level, either on the board itself or through a community advisory board.
  • We engage everyone, from the board to staff levels of the organization, in race equity work and ensure that individuals understand their roles in creating culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.