Written by Megan Whitney, Senior Manager II, Network Fundraising Services at Feeding America
Impact of SIY at the Feeding America Network
To make meaningful progress in Feeding America’s equity work, it’s important that we’re intentional about how we are being in addition to what we are doing.
One of the most impactful results of Search Inside Yourself has been how different teams across the Feeding America network are embracing SIY’s micro-practice of “a minute to arrive.” With more than 44 million people facing hunger in America, food banking can be fast-paced, emotional, and complex work. Minute to arrive is a beautiful ritual that helps us show up for ourselves and each other with compassion and presence.
I’m thrilled to see folks across the network practicing “minute to arrive” in many ways, including at EDI committee meetings, leadership team meetings, fundraising trainings, conferences, and webinars. At the beginning of my team’s meetings at Feeding America, we set a timer for one minute and everyone takes some deep breaths with our eyes open or closed. It’s amazing how recharging and restful it is to pause, look away from a screen, and simply be.
Here’s just a few of the countless examples of how teams are practicing mindfulness across the Feeding America Network:
- Since 2020, four colleagues and I have been leading the Feeding America Network Mindfulness Community gatherings twice a week on Zoom. More than 400 people are registered for these 30-minute meetings where we meditate together and connect with each other.
- “It can feel lonely in the nonprofit world. People don’t understand what I do as a food banker. Being part of the Mindfulness Community helps me feel part of something bigger. I feel more connected with what’s going on around the network, even if we don’t talk about the work. It calms me down and sets me straight for the week – it’s priceless.”
-Lisa Roehling, North State Programs Manager at Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano – CA
- At the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank, SIY alum Jennifer Powell worked with me to create a video that kicked off their Hunger Action Month volunteer packing shifts with a mindfulness/intention setting practice.
- At North Texas Food Bank, SIY alums Madison Messinger and Shawn Martin started a mindfulness group called Drop and Give Me Zen that they run twice a week.
We are incredibly grateful to SIYLI for their partnership in offering hundreds of scholarships to the Feeding America Network!
SIYLI’s incredible mindfulness and emotional intelligence trainings have undoubtedly helped us take better care of ourselves, our colleagues, and neighbors facing hunger.
A Closer Look: Impact of SIY on Life Outside of Work
Search Inside Yourself has had a transformative impact on my life and leadership style. Before SIY, I considered my daily meditation practice to be a personal practice that was separate from my experience at work.
SIY turned me into an advocate for integrating mindfulness into the workplace, and it empowered me with the passion and tools to share these practices with hundreds of food bankers. After participating in SIY as a student in 2020, I am grateful to have:
- Earned an SIY Organizational Teacher Certification in 2021
- Co-taught SIY with Lindsey Kugel to about 80 food bankers SIY in 2022
- Started my own mindfulness coaching business in 2023
I want to thank SIYLI and my colleagues across the Feeding America network for spreading mindfulness as a tool for relieving stress, fostering resilience, practicing community care, and increasing work-life harmony.
Number of Lives Impacted
In 2023, 83 people from Feeding America attended Search Inside Yourself or other core programming. 40 were from the Feeding America North America (the headquarters of the umbrella organization) and 43 were from the affiliated network of incredible food banks from all around the country, including California, Washington, Texas, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey, to name a few.
- “I felt like I was given a lot of tools that I could use to be a better leader, peer and person. It was a really warm and welcoming environment. It may have been the first time in my life something work related didn’t feel like a competition, or a race to the finish line. Personally being able to let myself grow and seeing opportunities for growth in many areas.” -Feeding America Network participant
- “I enjoyed putting things into a more calm perspective vs. a reactionary perspective. It helps to take the stress away from certain interactions.” -Feeding America Network participant
From the desk of SIYLI’s Executive Director
As SIYLI continues to make good on our commitment to support frontline workers and those in the nonprofit space, we are ever grateful for our partnership with Feeding America. Since 2020, we have partnered with Feeding America to support the wellbeing and resilience of the nation’s largest network of food banks and hunger-relief organizations. We are honored to support these passionate individuals from around the country who have dedicated their careers to ensuring everyone has access to healthy food. Supported by our generous donors, every program that SIYLI offers includes a number of seats for Feeding America network employees and volunteers at zero or very low cost.
We’ve been able to witness and support the growing mindfulness movement within the organization, spearheaded by Megan Whitney and her colleagues in the Feeding America network Megan is a force for good who became SIY-certified in 2022, and continues to offer practices weekly for anyone who wants to join. She and her team recognize the impact of taking time for self-care and self-compassion as a way to sustain resilience, even in the face of many stressors. Thank you to Megan and the entire network that is Feeding America!