Connection: Supporting clients in setting and meeting goals by connecting to needed community resources that foster individualized growth.
Think about how you support your clients. Do you have resources available? Are your volunteers knowledgeable about community resources such as SNAP, job training, and mental health services? Do you have a strategy for understanding clients' needs and working one on one to help them achieve their goals?
The key areas of resources, knowledge and a referral strategy are the most important elements of a pantry that connects clients to community resources. The goal is providing routine case management services to help clients set and meet goals that improve life stability.
The connection continuum below describes 5 levels for connecting to community resources. If your food pantry is at a level 1 or 2, resources are available to help you better support your clients in meeting their goals. At level 3 your pantry is beginning to help clients connect to community resources to meet their goals. The aim is for pantries to reach a level 5.
Why is Connecting to Community Resources Important?
A core component of the More than Food framework is connecting individuals with resources to help them address the underlying reasons of why they are in need of food. Because we know that food insecurity is rooted largely in poverty, the heart of our framework is helping people to address these root causes. Along the continuum, case managers offer individualized motivational interviewing to help people help themselves.
Case management is about meeting people where they are in terms of readiness for change. It's about helping people increase their education, improve their housing, address legal issues, or access affordable child care. Traditional pantries often provide passive food assistance with no additional supports. Many food pantries provide one-time referrals to services with no follow-up. Case management involves building relationships and a proactive approach to help people make and reach goals.
The person providing case management services, called a case manager or coach, helps members set small achievable goals for making changes that, if accomplished, will boost their confidence in coping with similar problems in the future. The More than Food framework creates an atmosphere that helps increase members’ feelings of self worth and their ability to make changes in their lives, ultimately helping them build confidence so they can work toward longer-term goals.
Our research shows that the More than Food framework boosts confidence, which helps increase food security.
Case Management with Motivational Interviewing
Motivational Interviewing is a strategy that has been used in variety of settings, across different fields, to help people make positive changes in their lives. It is nonjudgmental, encouraging, client-centered, and goal-driven. This technique also conveys confidence, trust, respect, and reinforces clients’ feelings of self-worth.
All case managers or coaches who are working with the More than Food framework should receive training in Motivational Interviewing and the Stages of Change Model. Training modules, materials, a job description for case managers, and a manual for Motivational Interviewing can be found in the Resource Center.