As Food Moxie celebrates its 10th anniversary, we are spotlighting the people who got us where we are today — this month, the founding board of directors. Back in 2007, Glenn Bergman, then Weavers Way’s general manager, saw a challenge and an opportunity in the Co-op’s growing community engagement programs. The Marketplace program, which trained local students to run healthy-snack stands at their schools, and the early stages of what would become the Weavers Way Farms, had potential to be dynamic programs but were a strain on the time and budget of the Co-op. Glenn foresaw that a nonprofit organization, independently governed but aligned with Weavers Way’s values and principles, could raise funds for these and other programs. He set about enlisting a “brain trust” of Co-op and community leaders and activists with experience in governance, education and fundraising to form a board to govern what was originally called Weavers Way Community Programs. Early board members included Glenn, Liz Werthan, Bonnie Hay, Bob Noble, Adina Abramowitz, David Pearson and Barbara Bloom.
I caught up recently with Liz and Glenn and asked them to reflect on the early days of the organization and where we are now. Liz, a longtime advocate and supporter of progressive causes, recalled that it was not difficult to get initial grant money to fund programs, but it quickly became clear that a staff was needed to administer them. She obtained a multi-year commitment of support from the Wyncote Foundation, which allowed WWCP to hire an executive director. She said the early incarnation of the board was focused more on finding support to maintain existing programs and did not engage in strategic planning to chart a course for the organization’s future.
Glenn, now the executive director of the food bank Philabundance, agreed that the early days were focused on building support for existing programs, but he had a vision that the organization could be instrumental in the expansion of urban farms in Northwest Philadelphia, and in the movement to grow the cooperative economy through education.
Asked to reflect on Food Moxie today, Liz says she is deeply proud of its work and thinks its programs at Stenton Family Manor — Hope Garden and Hope Kitchen — can and should be replicated at other facilities serving vulnerable populations. Glenn, who has re-joined the Food Moxie board, is “thrilled to be part of such an interesting board and to watch the work of the staff.” He is very happy that the organization has a clear direction and focus, and also singles out the partnerships at Stenton and at MLK High School as models for expansion and replication: “In my new world at Philabundance, I now see how special the little farm is at Stenton Family Manor. The shelter system is, as you can imagine, a very difficult place to be for so many people (many women and children), and the ability to incorporate urban ag and some nutrition education is a wonderful thing that I hope we continue to expand on in the future.”
To everyone who agreed to serve on the original board, to lend their wisdom and experience to the endeavor of hatching and sustaining a new organization as it refined its mission and programs, the current board, staff and partners of Food Moxie say “THANK YOU!”