Next Gen Food Bank: The Hipsters in our Midst - Capital Area Food Bank
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Next Gen Food Bank: The Hipsters in our Midst

By Nancy E. Roman June 13, 2015

selfFollow Nancy on Twitter at @nancyroman1.
A Washington Post reporter visiting the food bank last week observed: “This feels more like Silicon Valley than a food bank.” Remarking upon three young CAFB employees across the table, he said, “You come in here and the place is full of light, and you guys look like hipsters.”
The three who looked like hipsters – and I, who does not – beamed. And I knew what he was getting at. We all did. But as I reflected on it, I realized that although our architecture is cool,
And although we do have a LEED certified green building filled with natural light,
And although we provide fruit in the staff break room to encourage wellness,
And offer yoga and bowling and Spanish to our staff,
Those aren’t what make the Capital Area Food Bank feel like Silicon Valley to a visiting reporter.
The people are!
The Capital Area Food Bank is brimming with young talent and smarts. And those of us who aren’t as young are working hard to build an empowerment culture that unleashes that energy, creativity, and drive toward new solutions to old problems.
prideSo Jodi Balis, a 37-year-old young mother of two working part-time, developed our cutting edge nutrition tracker that is the basis for improving the health of our food inventory.
And Allison Majewski, 25, gathered hundreds of nonprofit and business leaders at our DC distribution center for our recent Hunger Summit, which included a riveting talk by Andy Shallal about food and racial justice in Washington.
And Jeremi Mathis, 25, emceed that Summit, kicking it off with a selfie while quoting Langston Hughes.
And Dylan Menguy, 25, decided to create a CAFB presence in the Capital Pride Parade two years ago. The food bank will be marching for the third year in a row on Saturday.
This young energy – which brings creativity far beyond the technology base most often acknowledged – is coupled with deep experience from folks who have been here a long time.
That’s the challenge for those of us privileged to lead creative nonprofits like CAFB. To build empowerment cultures that unleash creativity, while bringing the essential structure necessary to harness it toward outcomes that best serve the organization’s mission.
It’s electric.
And it’s happening here at CAFB. Come on over.