November 29, 2021 Newsletter

Hello my fellow Gleaners!

It’s been an interesting month, and so there is more than normal to report. First, some history for those of you who may have recently joined . . .

In November of 2017, the previous leadership decided to pursue other opportunities. Their sudden departure made for some rough times, but a number of us jumped in and went to work. We recruited and promoted and worked diligently to create a space where everyone willing to work alongside us was welcome. As a result, in 2018, we received an award from LBFS for the largest membership increase. Since then, our growth has only continued. We were receiving @ 3 grants a year, and that’s risen to 15. We served 15 households and now serve nearly 80. We went from around 30 members to almost 300, (1,000% increase) It’s a lot to manage, and there have been some growing pains.

As many of you know, our partner agency Linn Benton Food Share (LBFS) decided to perform an audit of our organization. This is not a punitive action. Rather, there were concerns raised that funds and assets were not being allocated properly. We were given 30 days to comply with their request for information to maintain our partnership status.

As a result of this inquiry, it’s been a busier than usual month. Our gleaner community has been working diligently on multiple methods of communicating to improve transparency and community outreach. The website alseavalleygleaners.org had not been updated in years. Volunteer member Jereme has stepped up to help us. He’s assisting with our uploads on the website and revamped the pages considerably. Emily has taken over the administration of QuickBooks to update the bank records, SMC, receipts, and prepare final grant reports. Anne has been auditing the grants for the past 5 years, ensuring that all parts of the process: from application, to receipt and expenditure of grant funds, to making the evaluation report to the grantor have all been done properly. Sandra prepared the calendar. Amber and Karin have been working to compile minutes of board meetings amongst myriad other things. Many other members have been involved in the process, and for that tireless work we are grateful.

This audit request from LBFS was humbling as we have discovered things that need resolving. For example, we received two grants around the same time from Benton Community Foundation (15K) and Albertsons (2.5K). The board approved the purchase of a refrigerator truck from Food for Lane County to be paid for by the Albertsons grant. However, after we left for a family trip with our new son Gideon, the former grants coordinator purchased two freezers with the expectation that one would be paid for by the Benton Community Foundation grant and one by the Albertsons grant. The grants coordinator resigned a week later, so we missed that these funds had been double expended. Also, she had not submitted a final evaluation report for a grant we had received from the Siletz due in May, and we just found that error this past week. Another find during this process was that we applied for a grant from Benton County United Way (BCUW) for 8K in Jan and received 4K and applied for a 9K BCUW grant in March. We have been receiving a check for about $85 for the past 6 months. We have communicated with them asking for clarification. These are not huge finds, but very helpful to correct so the purchase of these assets is credited to the appropriate grantors.  

There was something of significance which was discovered about the operation we were hoping to partner with at the Demonstration Farm in regards to raising chickens to provide us eggs and meat, as well as assisting in fundraising efforts. It turns out that there is a dispute over the assets of the business. Given the information we now have, at the urging of LBFS, the board decided to reject the offer. It is unfortunate, because it could have been a good opportunity to move our organization toward food independence. Be that is it may, it is important to avoid such entanglements. It would be irresponsible of us to not heed the advice of those more experienced in such matters.

We are grateful that the team at LBFS is helping us become more organized and assisting us as a partner through these growing pains. We are learning that operating this organization is less about the individual members and more about the team that makes us stronger. It all comes down to all of us continuing to act in good faith to supply all the information requested and working diligently to tie up any loose ends.

Of final note, the nomination process for board and officer positions begins today and goes through December 1st. During this three-day nomination period, members are asked to submit to the board the names of those people they wish to see in office. Up for vote are the positions of Executive Director, Secretary, and Board Positions #2 and #4. Submit your nominations to any Board member for consideration by the nomination committee. The nomination committee will review the nominations until December 15th to determine eligibility. The findings will be posted at that time on social media, and on the distribution site bulletin board. Voting will be done at the Annual Membership Meeting held at the Alsea Library on January 15th 11am to 2pm. For those either unable to appear in person that day or wishing to submit your vote early, you may do so via email to .

Sincerely,
John Winterbourne
AVG Secretary