Expanding on the ‘Food is Medicine’ Movement
Healing Meals Community Project, founded in 2015, provides nutrient-rich food to people in a health crisis, powered by the efforts of youth and adult volunteers in local communities.
As they approached their five-year anniversary, the Healing Meals executive team wanted to look ahead—what kind of growth was possible for the organization? They had dreams of finding their ideal kitchen and building a campus-style community program, expanding their organic farming initiative and health education, evolving their youth development programming, advancing key partnerships, contributing to the ‘food is medicine’ movement in Connecticut, and much more.
But how should they translate their dreams and energy from ‘what if’ and ‘is that possible’ to a reality—and who could best help them?
“The list of consultants we were given originally didn’t fit. These aren’t big enough thinkers for us. We didn’t want to do yet another SWAT analysis. We were ready to be stretched and to have somebody alongside us who would think strategically with us, helping us design what’s next for Healing Meals.” —Sarah Leathers, Chief Executive Officer, Healing Meals Community Project
Enter Fathom. “One of the things I always walked away from every conversation with the Fathom team was this sense that they really live and breathe creating futures. Helping people dream into their vision of themselves is as much art as it is science. With Fathom’s help, we became so clear about who we are and who we want to be as an organization.” – Ellen Palmer, Chief Operating Officer, Healing Meals Community Project
We believe: Nutrient-rich food, made and received with love, is essential for our well-being and the well-being of our collective future.
Which drives our commitment to: Cause a revolutionary health movement through community-based, youth-led, evidence-based actions.
Actions & Outcomes
Fathom and the Healing Meals team worked together to create a community-led future vision, beginning with Fathom’s Relationship Assessment, which formed a clear picture of what matters most to those essential to Healing Meals’ future—including staff, members of the Board of Directors, clients and their families, adult and youth volunteers, community partners, sponsors, and donors.
Equipped with that collective input, Fathom then guided the Healing Meals team through Future Design Day – an exploration of what’s possible for the organization’s future, and the articulation of the belief and commitment that unite the Healing Meals community and lead to unprecedented outcomes.
When asked about the future vision experience and what difference it made, Ellen Palmer said: “You know what it feels like? It feels like we now have the scaffolding to support what we will create in the world. We have the structure and team of support to get there, so we don’t feel alone.”
Fathom and the Healing Meals team also hosted a Community Celebration event, to share the community’s collective vision for the future, to engage in open-ended conversation about what it made possible for Healing Meals, and enroll interested community member in a variety of ways to contribute to next steps along the way. “That gave us an opportunity to stand even more confidently in our truth, knowing that our constituents were invited to the table, and they said that this is what they wanted.”—Ellen Palmer
Now with a new home location, the Healing Meals team is scaling their programs to meet and exceed the needs of local communities, as they continue to “cause a revolutionary health movement through community-based, youth-led, evidence-based actions.”
“We have incredible programs because of the more comprehensive conversations we’ve been able to have, which have allowed us to ask for more funding. People can see it, our vision, and want to be a part of making it come to life. I think our funders confidence in us, and our communities’ confidence in us has just expanded, 20-fold. So, we can go after programs that we wouldn’t have before. We can touch every facet of our wellness – physical health leads to mental health too. And we can develop programs that support recovery, anxiety, addiction, underserved populations who are really struggling, prenatal programs. It’s just the beginning. And yet, look at all that’s happened within this last year.” – Ellen Palmer
During this time, Ellen and Sarah also participated in Fathom’s Leadership Forum Group (LFG). LFG is a program that helps leaders increase their awareness and effect with less effort, gain clarity and the ability to stay grounded, and become prepared to step into new and more challenging leadership opportunities going forward.
“LFG came at a really good time for me. The lessons within the program stretched me for sure. I will go back to the LFG toolkit over and over – I love that I have that. The tools have been so useful, and they’ve been really helpful to me in my leadership role as CEO of Healing Meals.” – Sarah Leathers
“Yes, LFG came at the perfect time for me as well. As an individual and professionally, I grew immensely. And as a leader within Healing Meals, it gave me the tools to understand story and perception dynamics that can get in the way of progress. It was incredibly transformational.” – Ellen Palmer
Healing Meals achieved the incredible milestone of serving their 100,000th meal this June.
Lessons & Takeaways
- Find and work with partners that are able to help you stretch beyond self-imposed limits.
- Ask your community what they dream of for your organization’s future—chances are it’s big.
- When you can easily share a compelling vision for a bold future that matters, others want to contribute in big ways.
Are you interested in redesigning your organization’s future? For those with big ambitions for the future of your company, engaging with Fathom means partnering with a trusted and expert guide that will be there every step of the way, provoking and translating bold thinking into equally bold results. Let’s talk.
About Healing Meals
Healing Meals Community Project is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that serves organic meals to families who are going through a health crisis in the greater Hartford area, while fostering compassion and empowering youth and adult volunteers in our communities. At Healing Meals, we believe nutrient-rich food, made and received with love, is essential for our well-being and the well-being of our collective future, which drives our commitment to cause a revolutionary health movement through community-based, youth-led, evidence-based actions. Learn more at HealingMealsProject.org.
Fathom works with leaders to create organizations that perform beyond the benchmarks of what they’ve previously known to be possible, beyond their history and their industry. Our clients engage us to ignite visionary thinking, energize vital relationships, launch critical initiatives and ultimately, to transform into thriving purpose-driven organizations.