Articles and Information from GA Foods

Reducing Child Hunger with Summer Food Service Programs

Posted by Jessica Fleigle on Apr 13, 2017 10:10:26 AM

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Millions of low-income children will lose access to breakfasts, lunches, and snacks during the summer when school is not in session. According to the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC), only 1 in 6 low-income children who ate school lunch during the 2014-2015 school year were reached by Summer Nutrition Programs in July 2015.

The Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) is a federally funded, state-administered program that provides nutritious meals to children in low-income areas during the months when school is not in session. SFSP serves free meals to children and teens ages 18 and younger. 

It is one of the most underutilized government programs. According to FRAC, for every lunch that an eligible child does not receive, states and communities miss out on more than $3.50 per child in federal SFSP funding. That can mean hundreds of millions of unused dollars and five million or more unfed children. 


SFSP Promotion Strategies
 

It is important to promote the Summer Food Service Program in your area in order to maximize the number of children served. We’ve created some strategies that will help you to inform and excite your community. 

  • Gather a group of volunteers and coordinate blitz days to raise awareness and go into the community to educate people about the program. Word of mouth from concerned parents in the community is a great way to inform people of the SFSP in your area. Local high school sports teams are also great volunteers. If high school students support and participate in the program, the younger children may be more inclined to participate as well. 

  • Create informational flyers and distribute them to parents and children during the last week of school. Many times parents are unaware that this program is available at no cost. Have volunteers distribute the flyers to parents who are picking their children up from school and have teachers distribute the flyers to students to share with their parents. 

  • Send a press release to local newspapers and media. Press releases are a great way to reach multiple audiences. Sharing your newsworthy Summer Food Service Program story with local newspapers, radio stations, magazines, and television stations is a great way to generate buzz about your program.  

  • Make your site stand out by serving meals on weekends. Funding is provided for meals served at eligible sites on anyday of the week. Most summer programs only offer meals Monday through Friday, so offering meals on weekends would make your SFSP stand out. Consider advertising weekends as family days and allow parents to participate in the activities

  • Schedule a neighborhood kick-off party to generate interest in the launch of the program. Children are more likely to participate in your SFSP if their friends are participating. Adversiting the first day of SFSP meals as a summer kick-off party will  entice more people to attend.

  • Have a bring-a-buddy day. Word of mouth is a great way to involve more children. Notify the children of upcoming "buddy days" where they are encouraged to bring a friend. Offer prizes or some sort of incentive to those who actually bring a friend. Once the friends attend, encourage them to return. 

Marketing the Summer Food Service Programs in your area can be time consuming, so we created a customizable press release and flyer, as well as a tip sheet for parents/guardians. To download these marketing materials, click here.


SFSP Success Stories

Successful Summer Food Service Program expansion involves intense planning and coordination efforts from the community. We’ve put together a couple success stories from other summer programs. These are excellent examples of using promotional strategies to help increase child participation.

  • Break for a Plate in Alabama is a successful multimedia campaign. The Alabama Department of Education partnered with a design firm to develop a website, logos, advertisements, billboards, yard signs, and other marketing materials. The Break for a Plate campaign significantly increased sites, sponsors, and child participation in Alabama. What you can do: Just like the Break for a Plate campaign, you can use marketing materials to promote your summer program. Creating a unified theme across all marketing platforms made Alabama's campaign successful and memorable. Try to make your marketing materials look unified so that people can easily recognize them. Utilize multiple media forms to spread the word, including handing out flyers outside schools and grocery stores, creating yard signs and placing them throughout the community, and forming partnerships with the local media. 

  • Browning, Montana uses a food truck with oversized pictures of fruits and vegetables on the outside along with the tagline "Kids Eat Here Free". Music blasts from the speakers sitting on the cab of the truck so children know that healthy meals have arrived. An awning and picnic tables fold out from one side of the truck. Incorporating a food truck that made multiple stops improved the child turnout in Browning. Before the mobile feeding model, children had to cross many busy streets to get to summer program sites, which their parents felt uncomfortable with or did not allow. What you can do: If you are located in a rural, urban, or suburban area, the mobile feeding model may work best for you. It eliminates the stress of children crossing busy streets, while providing them with healthy meals. Schedule a community meeting and discuss this option with parents in the area. It takes some planning to get the mobile feeding model up and running, but once everything is in place, the amount of children fed will increase. Try to incorporate music on your truck as this generates excitement (think ice-cream truck!). 


SFSP Meals

Sponsors may prepare their own meals, purchase meals through an agreement with an area school, or partner with a vendor. Sponsors will only be reimbursed if the meals they are serving meet federal nutritional guidelines, so we suggest partnering with a food service company. 

GA Foods offers frozen and shelf-stable meals that are perfect for summer programs. SchoolFuelTM, our frozen meals for kids, are compliant with federal NSLP and CACFP requirements. They can be delivered frozen, or hot and fresh daily. Super PowerPackTM, our shelf-stable meals, are CACFP and SFSP-compliant. These pre-packaged meals require no kitchen and little to no preparation. 

Both SchoolFuelTM and Super PowerPackTM meals take the stress of nutrition planning off your plate. They come in fun packaging and kids love the taste! Contact our experts to learn more about menu options. 

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Topics: Nutrition, Child Nutrition, Summer Meals, SFSP

Can Post-Discharge Meals Improve Patient Outcomes?

Posted by Mary O'Hara on Apr 5, 2017 11:00:00 AM

discharge-meals.jpgWhen patients go into the hospital, one thing they may not expect is to leave malnourished. But, that is exactly what occurs to one-third of patients admitted to hospitals. Malnutrition is not always recognized and often goes untreated during hospitalization. Weight loss and poor nutritional intake can delay the healing and recovery process. This may lead to more challenging recoveries, and in many cases, relaspse and readmission.

Disease-associated malnutrition is a common and widespread problem. Older adults are especially at risk. Clinical evidence shows that solid, well-balanced nutrition is essential to health. The effects of poor nutritional status are evident in those who were recently hospitalized and recovering from an acute illness. Malnutrition in the frail and elderly is an important area of concern. Poor outcomes related to malnutrition, may occur:

  • Increased risk of pressure ulcers
  • Impaired wound healing
  • Increased infection rate
  • Muscle wasting
  • Functional loss, resulting in more falls
  • Longer hospital stays
  • Higher readmission rates
  • Higher treatment costs
  • Increased mortality

Nutrition Care and Patient Outcomes

Research shows that nutritional intervention has a positive impact on patient outcomes. Benefits include:

  • 25 percent reduction in pressure ulcer incidence
  • 14 percent fewer overall complications
  • 28 percent decrease in avoidable readmissions
  • 2-day reduction in average length of stay

The Alliance to Advance Patient Nutrition recommends taking action to improve patient outcomes. Here are some steps: 

  • Recognize and diagnose all patients at risk for malnutrition.
  • Rapidly implement nutrition interventions and continue to monitor patients..
  • Develop a discharge plan for patient nutrition care and education. 

Post-Discharge Planning

Many transitional care plans are missing an important component – nutrition care. Providing access to food allows the frail and elderly to regain their strength and energy faster. Proper nutrition for those at risk improves patient outcomes following surgery or a hospitalization.

Many health plans are adding home-delivered meals for seniors to the supplemental benefits. Post-discharge meals significantly impact both short-term recovery results and the long-term health of patients. 

For more information, download our ebook, The Impact of Nutrition Care and Patient Outcomes.

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Topics: Malnutrition in Elderly, Home Delivered Meals, Healthcare Cost Reduction, Healthy Meals for Seniors, Post Discharge

How to Reduce Healthcare Costs with Home-Delivered Meals

Posted by Mary O'Hara on Mar 29, 2017 3:50:26 PM

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Malnutrition is a surprising problem in America. One out of every three patients admitted to the hospital suffer from malnutrition. If untreated, two-thirds will become severely malnourished during their stay. Approximately one-third of patients who are not malnourished will become so by the time they are discharged.

Increased Risk of Complications 

Malnutrition in older adults affects clinical outcomes and increases complexity of care. Poor nutrition status impairs the immune system in several ways and can lead to other negative outcomes:

  • Delays wound healing and causes unhealthy changes in body composition
  • Reduces muscle strength
  • Decreases the function and efficiency of vital organs, potentially affecting the kidneys, respiratory, and cardiovascular systems
  • Can lead to fatigue, apathy, and depression
  • Longer recovery times and increased risk of complications compared to well-nourished patients

Malnutrition Leads to Longer Hospital Stays

Malnutrition can impact more than patients. It can also have financial consequences to hospitals and managed care organizations. Malnutrition can increase the length of hospital stays and complications. This can lead to higher costs for hospitals and health plans.

Higher hospital readmissions and poorer patient outcomes are other results of malnutrition. For many, readmissions can occur within 30 days of discharge. Higher readmissions can reduce reimbursement rates under the Affordable Care Act. Per the Advisory Board, Medicare will reduce reimbursements for 2,597 hospitals in 2017. The readmission penalty results in a combined loss to hospitals of $528 million. Malnutrition-associated diseases in adults cost the U.S. $15.5 billion each year. 

Home-Delivered Meals Improve Patient Outcomes

Home-delivered meals after a hospitalization can help reduce malnutrition and improve results in managing chronic diseases and conditions.  Read this article to learn how a nonprofit organization addressed this widespread problem. MANNA, based in Philadelphia, reduced costs by providing home-delivered meals to their clients. Home-delivered meal recipients also had 50 percent fewer hospital stays, and those admitted to the hospital, had a 37 percent shorter stay.

To learn more, download our paper, Reduce Healthcare Costs and Improve Patient Outcomes with Post-Discharge Meals.  It explains how nutrition care during the post-discharge period can maximize patient outcomes, and lower costs for hospitals, managed care organizations, and health plans.

Download White Paper - Reducing Healthcare Costs and Improve Patient Outcomes

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Topics: Malnutrition in Elderly, Home Delivered Meals, Healthcare Cost Reduction, Nutrition Care, Post Discharge

Make Long-lasting, Healthy Changes

Posted by Maureen Garner, MS, RD, LD on Mar 22, 2017 1:50:58 PM

healthy-lifestyle.jpgAs the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics continues to celebrate National Nutrition Month® with the theme, "Put Your Best Fork Forward", they encourage everyone to make long-lasting, healthy changes that will lead to renewed energy and help you age well.

The Academy recommends following a Total Body Diet lifestyle to help you reach your health and wellness goals. There are three principles to follow:

  1. 1. Balance your diet with foods from all food groups.
  2. 2. Get active every day with enjoyable movement.
  3. 3. Make your mental health a priority by fostering a positive attitude.

Total Body Diet

Foods that are high in sugar tend to be low in fiber, protein, and fat. For continuous energy throughout the day, eat meals that are high in fiber, lean protein, and healthy fats. Space your meals and snacks about three to four hours apart. Here are more ideas to help you follow the Total Body Diet:

  • Plan at least one meatless day into your week. Pile your plate with colorful vegetables!
  • Fuel your brain with foods like fruit, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, fish and avocados.
  • Clean out your pantry, fridge, and freezer - get rid of foods with a lot of added sugar, solid fat, and salt.
  • Drink water instead of sugary drinks.
  • Make physical activity a routine part of your day. Do activities that you enjoy!
  • Sit less! Stand while working with a standing desk and walk during your breaks.
  • Aim for 7-9 hours of restful sleep every night!

For more details on the Total Body Diet read Total Body Diet for Dummies by Victoria Shanta Retelny, RDN, LDN and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Nutrition for Seniors

Seniors have unique nutrition needs to consider. The most obvious difference between meals for seniors and meals for younger adults is portion sizes. As people age, their caloric requirements decrease, so senior meals should be smaller. Many restaurants now offer smaller menu options, though eating proper portions at home can still be a challenge! A great solution for perfectly portioned meals is to consider a meal delivery service. Home-delivered meals are pre-portioned, nutritionally balanced, and are tailored to meet the special dietary needs of older adults.

Download 9 Questions to Ask When Choosing a Home-Delivered Meals Provider

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Topics: Nutrition, Healthy Home Delivered Meals, National Nutrition Month, Healthy Meals for Seniors, Aging Well, Best Fork Foward NNM

Put Your Best Fork Forward for Healthy Meals

Posted by Maureen Garner, MS, RD, LD on Mar 15, 2017 2:00:16 PM

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Each year, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics celebrates National Nutrition Month® in March. This year's theme is "Put Your Best Fork Forward" and the Academy encourages everyone to make small, healthy changes when eating.

Choosing a variety of healthy foods across all food groups will help reduce your risk of chronic diseases like heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and obesity. Making small changes, one forkful at a time, will prevent diseases before they occur. Here are some ideas to get you started:

Make Half of Your Plate Fruits and Veggies

Fruits and vegetables are full of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that your body needs to be healthy. For many people, eating enough fruits and veggies each day is difficult. Try eating cut up vegetables for snacks. Keep a bowl of fruit on the kitchen counter so your family can easily grab a piece. Add grated vegetables like zucchini or carrots to sauces, meatloaf, and pasta dishes.

Cut Back on Added Sugars

Foods and drinks with added sugars contribute empty calories and often lack nutrients. Read ingredient lists and choose foods that don't have sugar or other sweeteners listed as the first ingredient. Quench your thirst with water instead of sugary drinks.

Make Family Meal Time a Priority

Studies show that family dinners have a positive impact on children's values, motivation,  and confidence. Involve your kids in meal planning and cooking family meals. Use this time to teach them about good nutrition.

Power Up with Breakfast

Mom was right - breakfast is the most important meal of the day. A healthy breakfast gives you the energy to start your day. Include a lean protein like eggs or low-fat dairy like yogurt, cheese, or milk. (Don't forget to fill at least half of your plate with fruits and vegetables!)

Be Adventurous

When food shopping or dining out, select a fruit, vegetable or grain that you have never tried. Foods like jicama, broccolini, purple potatoes or quinoa are tasty and nutritious. Also, explore other options for preparing foods. For example, broccoli roasted in the oven has a very different taste and texture than steamed broccoli.

Home-Delivered Meals

For healthy meals that are perfectly portioned, nutrient dense, and ready to go when you need them, try out a meal delivery service like GA Foods. Many health plans, including Medicare Advantage, offer home-delivered meals as a benefit. Check with your plan to see if you are eligible for GA Foods' home-delivered meals.

Want more healthy eating ideas?  Read this article.

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Topics: Nutrition, Chronic Disease Management, Senior Health, National Nutrition Month, Best Fork Foward NNM

Celebrate Registered Dietitians and National Nutrition Month with GA Foods!

Posted by Jessica Fleigle on Mar 8, 2017 1:46:09 PM

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(Pictured from left to right: Ashleigh Fabian, Registered Dietitian and Joann Pierre, Sr. Registered Dietitian) 

March is National Nutrition Month® (NNM). NNM focuses on the importance of making informed food choices and developing healthy eating and physical activity habits. This year's theme is "Put Your Best Fork Forward," which serves as a reminder that each one of us holds the tool to make healthier food choices.

March is also when the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics celebrates Registered Dietitian Nutrition™(RDN) Day. This year, RDN Day is March 8.

GA Foods’ Registered Dietitians

We are blessed at GA Foods to have a great Registered Dietitian team (a couple of our dietitians are pictured above!). They are highly trained in developing personalized nutritional plans for each and every customer. Our dietitians create meals and menu plans for customers seeking frozen and shelf stable solutions throughout the United States. They ensure the meals meet or exceed the USDA guidelines, and that all meals are low in sodium, fat, cholesterol, and sugar.

We asked our dietitian team a few questions about their jobs and nutrition, and are excited to share their responses with you! 

What is your favorite part about your job?

  1. Our favorite part is knowing that we’re impacting the lives of others every single day. And, that we get to work with an amazing team! 
What is a nutrition tip you recommend?
  1. We recommend to stop dieting and make a lifestyle change. Instead of depriving yourself of the foods you love, enjoy foods in moderation.
What is a common mistake you see seniors make with their nutrition?
  1. We see a couple common mistakes among seniors (and others!)
  • Not eating balanced meals (i.e. focusing on a sole food group such as starches and not incorporating protein/veggies)
  • Increased intake of sweets

 Can you provide examples of nutrition fads that aren’t true?

  1. “Low-no carb” diets are a popular fad because they can help people lose weight initially, but it’s not realistic or healthy to eat like that forever. Sugar is our body's main energy source, so we eventually return to eating carbohydrates. When people start eating carbs again, they gain the weight they’ve lost and usually more because their bodies are storing the energy source. It just becomes a cycle, and that’s why our best advice is to stay away from dieting and make a lifestyle change. We recommend to eat foods that are good for your body such as fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains.
Are certain foods more likely to cause health problems?  Please explain.
  1. Processed junk foods contribute greatly to obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol, and other chronic diseases. These foods are addicting, and they don’t provide the nutrients your body needs. They are usually high in sugar, saturated fats, and calories, and they cause inflammation. 
  2. Our advice is simple: more whole foods, less processed. If you are going to eat processed foods, check the labels to make sure you are getting foods with low sugar, sodium, fat, and cholesterol.

National Nutrition Month 

According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the purpose of NNM is to increase the public's awareness of the importance of good nutrition. Over the course of the next few weeks, our blog will focus on health education and eating tips as part of NNM.  

For more information on National Nutrition Month®, click here

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Topics: Nutrition, National Nutrition Month, Registered Dietitians, Best Fork Foward NNM

Can Home-Delivered Meals Improve Your HCAHPS Score?

Posted by Mary O'Hara on Feb 15, 2017 12:00:00 PM

Hospital-Post-Discharge-Meals.jpgThe Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) is the survey used to measure patients’ perceptions of their hospital experience. The survey asks discharged patients 32 questions about their recent hospital stay. Patient perceptions and experiences directly impact your facility’s Medicare reimbursement

Patient satisfaction is a top priority. You can no longer focus only on patient procedures, diagnoses, and outcomes. You must consider how pleasant and comfortable the patients’ hospital stay is.

A positive hospital-patient relationship can instill trust and loyalty, which results in higher HCAHPS scores. A hospital’s reputation in the community may influence consumers, who have choices in their healthcare. It’s estimated that 67 percent of patients select where they want to go for medical care. 

Shifting Priorities

 “The patient experience in healthcare is ultimately the human experience," states Jason Wolf, PhD., president of the Beryl Institute. Research from the Beryl Institute shows: 

  • Patient experience remains a top priority around the world and throughout the continuum of care. 
  • Organizations are investing in providing a great experience for patients.  Currently, 42 percent of healthcare institutions have a chief experience officer role. In 2013, that number was only 22 percent, and the trend is growing. 

In 2013, one of the main goals of hospitals was to reduce noise. The focus has shifted now to making the following top priorities:

  • Service
  • Communication
  • Patient voice
  • Compassion
Hospital employee engagement programs are growing. Engaged employees are a key factor in driving a positive patient experience.  Every interaction with a patient matters. 

Care Transitions

Your transitional care plan can add to the positive experience for your discharged patients. The HCAHPS survey includes questions relating to care transitions:

During my hospital stay, staff took my preferences and those of my family or caregiver into account in deciding what my health care needs would be when I left.

Some things to consider before your patients return home: 

Will your patients have access to nutritious meals at their home? Weight loss and poor nutrition intake can delay the healing and recovery process. This could result in longer, more challenging recoveries, and in many cases, relapse and readmission.

Do patients have family members to assist with grocery shopping and preparing hot meals? Preparing meals can be difficult for those recovering from a hospitalization, surgery, or illness.

When I left the hospital, I had a good understanding of the things I was responsible for in managing my health.

Patients will have a more positive experience of their stay if they feel the hospital still cares about them after they are discharged.

Are they aware of any dietary restrictions they may have?

Does their health plan include a post-discharge home-delivered meal benefit? If it doesn't, many hospitals are now providing meals post hospital discharge. This benefit is another way to boost the patient experience. Post-hospitalization programs that include the management of nutritional status and depression may reduce hospital readmissions. 

Nutrition care is a key component to improving patient outcomes. Malnutrition is one of the greatest contributors to hospitalizations and readmissions. 

Home-delivered meals can help extend a positive experience beyond your facility. Patients who receive home-delivered meals after hospitalization regain their strength and energy faster. Well-nourished post-discharge patients are less likely to be readmitted to the hospital within 30 days of discharge.

Providing post-discharge meals can help ensure a smooth transition from hospital to home. 

Download White Paper: Transitional Care: Is Your Model Missing a Key Component? 

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Topics: Home Delivered Meals, Senior Health, Healthcare Cost Reduction, Healthy Home Delivered Meals, Post Discharge

Beyond the Sneaker - Home-Delivered Meals

Posted by Mary O'Hara on Feb 8, 2017 11:00:00 AM


Silver Sneaker.pngSeniors have many choices when selecting Medicare Advantage health plans. Many plans include supplemental benefits like vision, dental, and fitness plans.

But, what do seniors really want from their health plans? They want benefits that help them maintain their independence and stay in their own homes. For many seniors, preparing meals after a hospitalization may be difficult. Many don’t have families who are nearby.

What do Members Look for in Supplemental Benefits?

In today’s market you need to ensure you’re providing the best member experience – while keeping an eye on the bottom line.

  • Home-delivered meals can reduce hospitalizations by 50 percent.
  • Members who receive home-delivered meals after a hospital stay regain their strength and energy faster.
  • Studies show nutrition assistance like home-delivered meals can reduce the occurrence of falls in the frail and elderly by up to 60 percent.

Members like having a home-delivered meal benefit. In fact, 92 percent of home-delivered meal recipients report this benefit gives them the independence they want.

Nutrition care, in the form of home-delivered meals after a hospitalization or as part of chronic disease management, maximize member outcomes, while reducing healthcare costs.

Nutrition care:

  • Promotes faster, more complete recoveries
  • Reduces risk of complications
  • Provides crucial support to patients with poor access to healthy foods
  • Improves overall health and quality of life
  • Decreases odds of further hospitalizations due to injury
  • Enhances management of chronic diseases

Home-delivered meals can help improve patient outcomes after an acute stay. Members with chronic illnesses will appreciate the ease and convenience that home-delivered meals provide.

Home-Delivered Meals Can Improve Star Ratings

Offering home-delivered meals as a benefit may lead to more satisfied members. This benefit may mean better star ratings for your plan. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) will use 2017 star ratings to determine the bonuses it will pay to insurers in 2018.

McKinsey & Co. determined the top three domains that influenced scores. Take a look at how home-delivered meals can help boost your ratings:

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Health plans that added post-discharge meals and chronic disease management meals to their supplemental benefits saw a 3:1 return on investment.

Offer your members a benefit that will make your plan standout from the rest!

 Download White Paper - Reduce Healthcare Costs and Improve Patient Outcomes with Post Discharge Meals


    

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Topics: Home Delivered Meals, Senior Health, Medicare, Medicaid, Healthy Meals for Seniors, Senior Health Plans

Volunteer Management

Posted by Ritch Brandon on Feb 1, 2017 11:09:00 AM

Volunteer-Management.jpgVolunteerism is essential to effective day-to-day operations for many non-profit organizations, providing them with assistance and expertise that organizations with limited resources may otherwise be unable to obtain on their own. In other words, the time, labor and skills that volunteers contribute to these organizations help them do more with less, providing them the means to better serve their communities. However, reaping those benefits depends on the ability to attract and retain the volunteers your organization needs. Here we'll outline some key points related to volunteer management that can help in your efforts at doing so.

Who Volunteers and Why?

Attracting volunteers to your organization means marketing your mission and opportunities to the pool of potential volunteers in your area. Effective marketing begins with knowing who your targets – in this case, potential volunteers – are and what motivates them.

Who volunteers? According to figures compiled by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 24.9 percent of Americans volunteered between September 2014 and September 2015. Women volunteered more often than men, with 27.8 percent of women donating their time, as opposed to 21.8 percent of men. Individuals ranging in age from 35 to 44 and 45 to 54 volunteered in larger numbers than those of other age groups, coming in at 28.9 percent and 28.0 percent, respectively. Teens, ages 16 to 19, were more likely to volunteer than young adults between the ages of 20 and 24, with 26.4 percent of teens volunteering as compared to 18.4 percent of young adults. Married people had higher rates of volunteerism (29.9 percent) than individuals who never married (19.9 percent). Other groups with higher volunteer rates included parents with children under the age of 18 (31.3 percent), employed individuals – especially part-time workers – and people with higher levels of education.

Why Do People Volunteer? A study done by Australian researchers sought to answer that question, dividing volunteers into groups according to self-reported motivations. According to study authors, 20 percent of volunteers are primarily motivated by the opportunity to help others, while 15 percent are motivated by three primary factors: personal satisfaction, doing something worthwhile and helping others. 10 percent listed their primary motivations as follows: personal satisfaction, doing something worthwhile, helping others, social contact, to be active and to put skills and experience to use. 21 percent of volunteers were motivated by a family member or friend involved with a particular organization or cause. Finally, 16 percent of volunteers were motivated by feelings of obligation and/or the desire to gain work experience and skills.

Older adults, age 44 and over, are most likely to be motivated by a desire to help others, stay active, do something worthwhile, maintain social contact and use skills they have developed over a lifetime, while young adults are more likely to be motivated towards volunteerism as a means to gain work experience and skills, or by a friend or relative within the chosen organization. Married people with young children are most likely to volunteer for organizations that serve children.

So How Do These Facts Affect Recruitment and Volunteer Management?

First, they can help your volunteer coordinator or committee build individual profiles, or personas, of the type of person that would best suit the volunteer opportunities you have on offer. Doing so avoids a mistake common to many organizations – operating on the assumption that volunteers are similar, regardless of demographic or motivational differences – and helps create a more targeted and efficient recruitment process. Forming an accurate appraisal of the type of volunteers you need also helps in managing volunteers more effectively, increasing your odds of placing recruits in positions suit their personal motivations for donating their time, keeping them more engaged and satisfied for increased volunteer retention.

For instance, for the heath-related non-profit that needs volunteers to fill positions that involve fundraising, management, information technology, and operations, targeting recruitment efforts towards the well-educated middle-aged or older adult population is wise, since this demographic is often motivated by the desire to put their skills and experience to work for their community. If filling community volunteer positions is your goal, such as home visits or daily meal deliveries to seniors, volunteers of or approaching retirement age are often your best bet, since they tend to be motivated by the desire to help others and remain active. They also typically devote more hours to volunteerism than the average person are more likely to remain in volunteer positions long-term.

The basic take-away for non-profits who wish to improve volunteer recruitment and retention is that solid volunteer management must be a priority. Given the potential benefits of an efficient, effective volunteer force to your organization, matching the right person to the right opportunity is just as important in your volunteer work force as it is for paid employees.

Download Volunteer Engagement Tips

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Topics: Volunteers, Volunteerism

Volunteering Trends in 2016

Posted by Ritch Brandon on Jan 16, 2017 11:52:04 AM

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What motivates someone to volunteer?

And what are they volunteering for?

How many hours a month are they donating to favorite organizations?

 

Understanding trends in volunteering in the U.S. may be helpful to your efforts recruiting volunteers for your organization. Here are facts about volunteering that we have found.

Volunteering Statistics 2016

People of all ages volunteer their time.  For 2016, the percentages of the total number of volunteers in America by age were very similar.

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  • 18 to 34-year-old adults made up 28%
  • 35 to 54-year-old adults made up 33%
  • Adults aged 55 and older made up 34%

More women than men volunteer, 28 percent of women volunteer vs. 22 percent of men. Across all age groups and education levels, women volunteer more than men.

 

Family-with-Graduate-Mom.pngMarried people volunteer more than single people. Parents with children under the age of 18 are more likely to volunteer (31 percent) than people without children (26 percent).

Those with higher levels of education are more likely to volunteer. Of people age 25 and older, almost 40 percent of those with bachelor’s degree or higher volunteer.  Twenty-seven percent of employed people volunteer, while 23 percent of the unemployed volunteer. Employed volunteers are more likely to work full-time.

 

Why Do People Volunteer?

Understanding what motivates people to volunteer will help you recruit and keep volunteers.

A report from Verified Volunteers shows that 75 percent of younger volunteers (ages 35 and younger), prefer to use what they’ve learned in school or at work.

Kitchen Production Line_Volunteers.pngThose who are older (55 and over) aren’t as concerned with using their skills. They choose volunteering opportunities that help their communities in the best possible ways. In fact, 80 percent of those interviewed said they just wanted to help their community in any way they could. 

The Verified Volunteers research report shows most volunteers are repeat volunteers. More than 61 percent of volunteers return to assist the organizations they volunteer with. These volunteers give an average of 29 hours of their time each month.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics says that most volunteers work for religious organizations (33 percent of all volunteers).  Educational or youth-services ranks second (with 25 percent of volunteers). No matter the type of organization, the main activity of most volunteers is to collect, prepare and distribute food. This is good news for organizations such as Meals on Wheels or local senior centers.

Older volunteers tend to turn to religious organizations, while younger volunteers prefer to help out non-profits and educational services.

Numbers Are Down

From 2015 to 2016, the number of people who volunteered actually dropped. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics say volunteer rates have been steadily declining for more than ten years.

The president of VolunteerMatch believes the volunteering rates are falling because the United States doesn’t invest enough resources in non-profits. He believes that without resources, non-profits do not have the time or money to attract and engage new volunteers.

Volunteering Trends

The most recent U.S. data about the value of volunteers is from 2015:

  • 62.6 million people volunteered
  • 7.9 billion hours of service were provided
  • Volunteers contributed $184 billion of services
  • The estimated value of a volunteer hour in the U.S. reached $23.56. 

While volunteering may be down, people still want to help. And their help is invaluable. As you develop your organization's plan to recruit and retain volunteers, keep the reasons people volunteer in mind. Volunteers want to help in areas where they can do good in their communities. For more help with recruiting and retaining volunteers, download our free tip sheet, The Path to Volunteer Engagement.

Download Volunteer Engagement Tips

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Topics: Volunteering Trends, Volunteers, Volunteerism

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