Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 66.40
Liaison Margaret Lo
Submission Date June 12, 2023

STARS v2.2

Ball State University
EN-10: Community Partnerships

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 3.00 / 3.00 Lisa Garner
Executive Assistant in the Office of Community Engagement
Office of Community Engagement
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Name of the institution’s formal community partnership to advance sustainability :
Muncie Food Hub Partnership

Does the institution provide financial or material support for the partnership? :
Yes

Which of the following best describes the partnership timeframe?:
Multi-year or ongoing

Which of the following best describes the partnership?:
Sustainability-focused

Are underrepresented groups and/or vulnerable populations engaged as equal partners? :
Yes

A brief description of the institution’s formal community partnership to advance sustainability:
Muncie and the surrounding region of Delaware County – known applicably as “Middletown America” – was once considered the quintessential American small city. But decades of economic decline have left the region in crisis: widespread poverty affects 23% of adults and 32% of child residents. Likewise, food insecurity – defined by the USDA as not having access to enough food for an active, healthy life – affects 17% of adults and 25% of children. This is especially troubling for youth in the community, who require adequate nutrition to grow, learn and develop into successful citizens.

The Muncie Food Hub Partnership (MFHP) seeks to nourish and strengthen the Muncie community through the robust exchange of fresh, affordable local food. MFHP manifests that investment in East Central Indiana food production through business development, education, and civic engagement.
The food hub specific objectives are to expand markets for local growers, increase community-wide availability of fresh, affordable, local foods, provide the next generation of students with critical training in food systems skills, and boost economic development and prosperity through job creation and exchange of goods in the East Central Indiana (ECI) region.

The Muncie Food Hub partnership promotes sustainable agriculture, sustainable food systems, rethinking the way we grow, aggregate, and distribute food to: 1) support growers who are farming sustainably, 2) support a food resilient community, 3) connect growers to communities/residents in need, and 4) develop a regional food policy that will synchronize complimentary food and health related strategies for Muncie and East Central Indiana.

Given current social, environmental, and economic constraints in ECI, rebuilding our local food system is a challenging and multifaceted process and initially requires deliberate partnership building and persistent engagement with the greater Muncie community. Toward this, the Muncie Food Hub Partnership spent the first and second project years doing just that: conducting community listening sessions, attending community and organizational meetings, conducting interviews and focus groups with Muncie citizens (including food insecure individuals) and food related organizations. This initial work has resulted in strong and long-lasting partnerships based on the consistent message of supporting our local farms through the development of new markets for selling their goods and providing locally grown food to food deserts and the food insecure. Our organization has become deeply embedded in the community particularly with regards to the food system and efforts to make it better for everyone. The focus on a mobile farmers market – bringing healthy and fresh food to food insecure residents – was a community driven solution – coming directly out of our community meetings and listening sessions.

Ball State has contributed more than $275,000 to this effort by way of an Academic Excellence Grant and an additional Building Better Neighborhoods grant in 2020. Also in 2020, the MFHP helped distribute over 9,000 gallons of milk across East Central Indiana. This was a partnership formed with Purdue Extension - Delaware County and Prairie Farms dairy in Anderson, IN. Using momentum from the milk distribution project, the MFHP was awarded a $28,000 grant by IU Health and the IU Health Foundation’s Community Impact Investment (CII) funds to develop and implement a produce distribution program in Delaware, Blackford, and Jay counties. The overarching goal of this project was to utilize existing MFHP food purchasing, storage, and distribution capabilities to provide free, fresh produce to people struggling to meet emergency food needs, particularly in low food access areas. Related project goals were to: (1) engage with several, smaller food pantries and daycares in the region to provide healthy food relief; (2) bring fruits and vegetables to new audiences; and (3) widen distribution channels for local farmers unable to find markets during the Covid-19 pandemic.

MFHP utilized CII funds to purchase produce from local farmers, aggregate, store, transport, and drop off allotments to each identified distribution site once per week. This unique produce distribution system project took place in Delaware, Blackford, and Jay counties at 10 locations. These locations were identified by IU Health and MFHP. Produce distribution sites included: Ross Community Center, Whitely Food Pantry, Salvation Army Food Pantry, Huffer Memorial Childcare, Mitchell Early Childhood and Family Center, Motivate Our Minds, Community and Family Services Food Pantries in Hartford City, Montpellier and Portland, IU Health Jay Hospital employee food bank, IU Health Blackford Hospital employee food bank, Jay Community Center Summer Camp.

In total, approximately 16,000 lbs. of produce were distributed across 10 sites over the course of 3.5 months (15 weeks). Distributions began on July 20, 2020 and ended on October 30, 2020. Each site received a distribution once per week on an agreed upon day/time. MFHP engaged with 8 farmers to supply produce over the course of the project. Altogether, farmers received nearly $18,000 over the course of the project. Based on host-site feedback, 7,500 people benefitted directly from our program over the course of the project.

2021 MFHP Season (July 15th-December 7th)
In 2021, the MFHP was awarded $4,000 by the George and Francis Ball Foundation to continue its food distribution program. These funds combined with donations and previous income helped the MFHP continue distributing produce to five locations in Delaware County including: Whitely Community Pantry, Ross Community Center, Motivate Our Minds, Huffer Memorial Children’s Center, Mitchell Early Childhood and Family Center. All produce distributed to these locations was purchased from three different farms (Spangler Farms, Shrock Family Farms, and Landess Farms) and donated. MFHP donated 50 units of food at 5 sites for 20 weeks = 5,000 persons served total. MFHP also maintained three weekly mobile farmers market sites in food desert areas during the 2021 season. Mobile farmers market locations were: Maring-Hunt Community Library and two Open Door Health Services sites. During the Thanksgiving holiday, MFHP began an “Everything but the Turkey” produce donation program. At this time, MFHP donated $3,600 dollars of local produce to 60 families to be used over the holiday. Produce varieties donated included: potatoes, red and yellow onions, green beans, cabbage, pie pumpkins, lettuce (spring mix), cauliflower, and tomatoes.

In addition, the following entities have also committed significant resources to this project including consultation, outreach support, event planning, research participation, and publicity platforms - Edible Muncie, Purdue Extension, IU Health, City of Muncie, Over 50 regional farmers and producers of local food, Open Door Health Services, Muncie Delaware Clean and Beautiful, Minnetrista, The Farmer’s Truck Mobile Market, Treehill Farms Mobile Market, Yorktown Farmer’s Market, Muncie Maker’s Market, The Fair Food Network, Urban Garden Coalition, Indy Hunger Network, Youth Opportunity Center, Soup Kitchen of Muncie, the Food Council of East Central Indiana, Muncie Public Library.

2022 MFHP Season (July 15th-December 20th)
The MFHP engaged in five main activities this year.
(1) Operated a Mobile Farmers Market (July-December) – Engaged 20 BSU students to help run the mobile market and produce donation program (see 2 below). Students spent June-December 2022 learning about barriers and opportunities related to regional food system sustainability and food insecurity by helping with mobile market operations, food donation program, and special events.
• 350 customers/community members served/engaged
(2) Operated the Food Hub Produce Donation Program (July-December) - In partnership with Purdue Extension, IU Health, and the George and Francis Ball Foundation.
• 50 units of food x 6 sites x 20 weeks = 6,000 persons served total.
(3) Participated in the United Way Day of Giving – In partnership with BSU Sponsored Programs and Purdue Extension, we engaged 15 volunteers from the Ball State Community and 20 NREM students to deliver free fresh produce to four daycare programs in Muncie. Donations went to children and their families, while volunteers read stories of food and farming to the gathered children.
•30 units of food x 4 sites = 120 individuals served and their families.
(4) Co-hosted two special free meal events in (November/December) for the general public in the 8Twelve neighborhood and beyond – In partnership with Common Market, the BSU Hospitality Program (Christiana Mann and her hospitality students), and Chef Donati we helped host a “Friendsgiving Dinner” event in November. The Food Hub donated all food items (including produce and locally raised turkey and ham) and helped run the event. In December we co-hosted a “Holiday Dinner.” Again, all food items were donated by the Food Hub and prepared by a local chef (Chef Donati).
• 175 individuals served
(5) Hosted Food Council of East Central Indiana monthly meetings (January-December 2022) - The Food Hub is the primary host for these events with significant collaboration from IU Health and Purdue Extension. Meeting topics focus on sustainable food systems, mitigating food deserts, emergency food provisioning, policy changes needed to make the food system more sustainable, etc.

January-December 2022 – hosted 11 meetings with an average of 15 attendees at each meeting. Total attendance for the year = 165 participants
Community partners for the five activities above: Open Door Health Services, IU Health, Purdue Extension, Maring-Hunt Community Library, Whitely Community Pantry, Ross Community Center, Motivate Our Minds, Huffer Memorial Children’s Center, Mitchell Early Childhood and Family Center, Ivy Tech and the Ivy Tech Food Pantry, Delaware County Head Start, Cardinal Clubhouse Childcare and Pre-School, Common Market, BSU Hospitality Program, Chef Donati, Spangler Farms, Landess Farms, Tomato Shack Farms, Becker Farms, and Shrock Family Farms.

Funding 2022-2023:
The College of Sciences and Humanities and the department of Environment, Geology, and Natural Resources contributed funds to MFHP in 2022. Funds were used to pay student wages during the growing season as well as to help cover costs of the MFHP truck lease and mileage.

The Muncie Food Hub Partnership received $100,000 this year from the Healthy Food Financing Initiative (HFFI) and the USDA. Project period is one year and began January 1, 2023. Funds will be used to:
(1)Expand the reach of the mobile market in Muncie and Delaware County
(2)Increase the number of farmers we partner with
(3)Begin an online produce ordering program
(4)Begin produce sales to a small grocery in the 8Twelve community
(5)Begin purchasing student grown produce for sale at mobile market sites; small grocery, and through the online ordering system.
(6)Integrate the BSU student Farm with MFHP by:
a. Moving the BSU student farm high tunnel to Health Farm
b. Constructing a wash and pack facility at Heath Farm

Additional information can be found at the MFHP Website: https://munciefoodhub.org/

Name of the institution’s formal community partnership to advance sustainability (2nd partnership):
ecoRehab

Does the institution provide financial or material support for the partnership? (2nd partnership):
Yes

Which of the following best describes the partnership timeframe? (2nd partnership):
Multi-year or ongoing

Which of the following best describes the partnership’s sustainability focus? (2nd partnership):
Sustainability-focused

Are underrepresented groups and/or vulnerable populations engaged as equal partners? (2nd partnership):
Yes

A brief description of the institution’s formal community partnership to advance sustainability (2nd partnership):
ecoREHAB, which began in 2009 as an immersive learning studio within Ball State’s architecture program, has long supported the university’s efforts to provide students with real-world, hands-on educational experiences. The Muncie nonprofit has equipped dozens of architecture students with sustainable design and building expertise through projects to transform abandoned properties into inviting, affordable homes.

In 2022, ecoREHAB found a “home” – for fundraisers, workshops and more - at The Yard, formerly McCarty Lumberyard, near downtown Muncie. In 2023, the College of Architecture and Planning (CAP) will offer a workshop on The Yard campus. A CAP student, Carolyn German, is completing her final master’s project on redesigning the facade of The Yard.

An ecoREHAB partnership with professors Pam Harwood and Tom Collins for Solar Decathlon has been established and BSU students will be tasked with completing the design work and ecoREHAB will serve as the developer.

The STEP (Skilled Trades Education Program) initiative, a partnership with Eastern Indiana Works (EIW) and Ball State University, continues to provide trainees with basic skills needed for a career in the construction industry. This free 18-week program combines classroom and onsite training focused on carpentry, electrical, HVAC, masonry, and plumbing. Pam Harwood and Tom Collins have donated their time to the STEP program to provide training on tools, blueprint reading, tours of the CAP building, and more.

ecoREHAB is an active partner in the 8twelve Coalition, which was formed in 2015 to address the disinvestment experienced by residents in two of Muncie, Indiana's neighborhoods hardest hit by blight, abandonment, and drug addiction. Through the 8twelve Coalition's work, residents engage in several community meetings each year to discuss their vision for their neighborhood and celebrate neighborhood-wide improvements. Goals established during planning meetings have included housing rehabilitation and the addition of safe, clean, affordable home-ownership opportunities within the community.

ecoREHAB also partners with other nonprofits to uplift neighbors and improve neighborhoods. One of those projects is Holistic Rehab, which also includes Habitat for Humanity and Homesavers. This project is open to all Muncie homeowners and focuses on roof and HVAC replacement.

Ball State has funded various projects through Building Better Neighborhood grants. Curriculum has also been imbedded in the College of Architecture and Planning working with ecoREHAB each year to develop building plans for homes that are ready to rehab. Cynthia Hunter, in the Department of Construction Management and Interior Design, is currently taking on the Rehab Immersive Learning class once created and led by Janet Fick. Her students will be evaluating and creating project plans for future rehab projects in Muncie.

With its focus on partnership, education, and sustainability, ecoREHAB continues to play a vital role in Muncie—building community, one house at a time.

Additional information on ecoRehab can be found at https://ecorehab.org

Name of the institution’s formal community partnership to advance sustainability (3rd partnership):
8twelve Coalition

Does the institution provide financial or material support for the partnership? (3rd partnership):
Yes

Which of the following best describes the partnership timeframe? (3rd partnership):
Multi-year or ongoing

Which of the following best describes the partnership? (3rd partnership):
Sustainability-related

Are underrepresented groups and/or vulnerable populations engaged as equal partners? (3rd partnership):
Yes

A brief description of the institution’s formal community partnership to advance sustainability (3rd partnership):
The 8twelve Coalition advances the goals and aspirations of residents through planning and action, focusing its revitalization efforts within Muncie’s Thomas Park/Avondale and South Central neighborhoods. The ultimate goal of 8twelve’s neighborhood revitalization work is improved quality of life within these focused neighborhoods. Since the Coalition was started, 8twelve partners have produced extensive insights for how this goal can be achieved, addressing issues related to poverty and inequality within its five task forces: housing, business development, wellness, education and family support, and beautification.

Ball State’s College of Communication, Information and Media (CCIM) has long worked with the 8twelve Coalition to advance its neighborhood revitalization efforts. Since 2019, CCIM has engaged in a long-term Immersive Learning Collaborative to build trust and expand/deepen the impact of community-university projects in these neighborhoods.

JOUR 385: Advanced Strategic Storytelling — worked alongside 8twelve to tell stories that matter, organize events, and coordinate/execute strategic communications for the 8twelve and partner organizations. Students produced materials and storytelling that helped 8twelve achieve its goals of connecting residents to each other and to the work of the Coalition. Building Better Neighborhoods Immersive Learning funds were allocated to support the class in 2022 – sponsoring printing of neighborhood newsletters and other marketing materials for the 8twelve Coalition.

The 8twelve Coalition is making an impact in the Thomas Park/Avondale and South Central neighborhoods by increasing sense of community and social cohesion and fostering collective action.

Additional information on 8twelve Coalition can be found at https://8twelvemuncie.com/

A brief description of the institution’s other community partnerships to advance sustainability:
Sustainable communities empower residents to contribute and work together toward shared priorities. They encourage businesses, city governments, and nonprofits to partner in innovative ways to improve quality of life and invest in the community’s long-term future. Ball State University recognizes that the future of any community lies in the health, well-being, and achievement of its youngest citizens. The unique partnership between Muncie Community Schools (MCS) and Ball State University, which was enacted through state legislation in 2018, continues to yield promising results in these areas.

Since July 2018, the subsequent hiring of Dr. Lee Ann Kwiatkowski, the director of public education and chief executive officer, and in collaboration with Ball State leadership and the MCS Board of Trustees, MCS enrollment has stabilized and the starting teacher salary increased to $48,000. Additionally, MCS has strengthened several community partnerships which directly serve students and families. Stakeholders have contributed over $4 million to support the development of a community-based school district focused on the well-being of citizens from cradle to career and beyond.

A joint BSU-MCS Academic Innovation Summit began in 2019 and is an annual event which is jointly planned by Ball State and Muncie Community Schools faculty, including Provost Susana Rivera-Mills, Teachers College Dean Anand Marri, MCS CEO Lee Ann Kwiatkowski, and MCS Associate Superintendent Chuck Reynolds. The Fall 2022 Summit featured world-renowned education activist, Geoffrey Canada.
A streamlined process for approving collaborative service and research projects between Ball State faculty staff, and students and Muncie Community Schools, with priority placed on initiatives in the following areas:
• Safe and Healthy Schools
• Curriculum and Instruction
• Cultural Competency and Community / Family Engagement
• Leadership, Finance, and Governance

Ball State and Muncie Community Schools leadership meet regularly to discuss strategic initiatives and assess progress towards achieving the goals of the Academic Innovation and Financial Viability Plan. Two initiatives aimed at these goals include the integration of Social Emotional Learning Ambassadors and Professional Development Liaisons – Ball State faculty who spend part of their days in Muncie Community Schools to work on district-identified goals. BSU and MCS leaders and faculty jointly applied for external grants. Most recently, they are partners on a $2.1 million award from the IDOE to attract, prepare, and retain teachers in the profession, and a $1.3 million award from the U.S. Department of Education, to integrate civics education across the K-12 curriculum.

The MCS-Ball State Connections initiative, which began in Spring 2021, continues to strengthen relationships between individual BSU colleges and MCS schools. Each college is paired with an MCS school to collaboratively design mutually beneficial service projects and learning opportunities for students and faculty. Members also include faculty from BSU’s Sponsored Projects Administration (SPA) and MCS’s Volunteer Program Manager and Wellness Coordinator, Alison Quirk. Some projects include welcoming students on the first day of school, campus visits, school beautification, and literacy initiatives. Representatives were present at MCS’s first Wellness and Community Support fair in January 2023.

A Community Engagement Council of community leaders and concerned citizens has been formed to facilitate advocacy, volunteerism and fundraising for the district. The council works closely with MCS’s Volunteer Program Manager and Wellness Coordinator and includes Ball State representatives.

Website URL where information about the institution’s community partnerships to advance sustainability is available:
Additional documentation to support the submission:
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Data source(s) and notes about the submission:
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