Greater Chicago Food Depository

Strategic Positioning, Media Relations, Brand Development, Fundraising Communications

Background

The Greater Chicago Food Depository is one of the country’s largest food banks, providing food to individuals and families facing food insecurity through a network of 800 pantries, soup kitchens and shelters. While the food bank has steadfastly pursued its central mission since its founding, it also has evolved and grown to respond to and anticipate evolving patterns of need. The food bank is investing in community partnerships for food production and job creation, and is intensely focused on boosting outreach to families with children, individuals with disabilities, and older adults. To support growth over the years, the food bank has mounted a series of campaigns – advertising, media, capital-raising – that require enhanced marketing and communications activities to heighten visibility and raise awareness among funders, volunteers, and policymakers.

Our Work

Our collaboration with the food bank’s executive leadership began in 2001, when we developed all content for its first capital campaign, interviewing management, staff and volunteers, and clients at food pantries and shelters throughout the communities the Food Depository serves. The campaign materials were widely praised for compelling story-telling, and fundraising surpassed goals. Over more than two decades – our longest client partnership – we have provided a wide-range of marketing and communications and strategic planning counsel to senior management, including media relations, issue development, and advocacy. For two years, one of the principals of MTC served as acting Chief Marketing Officer, developing messaging, a new advertising campaign, and communications strategy. For the food bank’s strategic planning process, we took part in community meetings to hear from local leaders and clients what was needed from the Food Depository moving forward – from more flexible hours at pantries and mobile food distributions to expanding benefits outreach and SNAP application assistance. We are continuing our media relations support to generate local and national awareness for the dramatic increase in food needs during and after the pandemic, and have been involved in developing messages and materials for the Food Depository’s current Capital Campaign.

Impact

The Food Depository’s brand recognition and reputation for innovation are widely recognized locally and nationally. Most importantly, the food bank is reaching more people in need. We have developed and executed local and national media relations campaigns around new program innovations, service expansion, and research; assisted in the planning of major events, from the opening of a new facility to the 30th anniversary; created messaging for advocacy campaigns in Chicago and in the state capitol, Springfield; and provided strategic counsel to leadership. The Food Depository and Executive Director/CEO Kate Maehr are featured regularly across all Chicago media and in national outlets, including flagship network news shows, the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today. Rising financial support, food distribution, and community outreach are among leading indicators of the impact the food bank has on the lives of hundreds of thousands of individuals in Chicago and Cook County.