Enhancing Emergency Response for Those in Need

Client Situation

Today, all levels of government and human services-centered non-profits face an increasing number of disasters, driven by pandemics, weather, environmental catastrophes, and more. These events impact both citizens and businesses, creating challenges requiring immediate and long-term support. That’s why every government and non-profit agency needs a plan.

In the wake of increasingly active hurricane seasons, Feeding Florida, a statewide network of 12 food banks, engaged North Highland to assess its response to Hurricane Irma and recommend improvements to its disaster response strategy.

The Feeding Florida network sought to enhance its ability to efficiently respond to the needs of the state during disasters, such as Hurricane Irma, which continues to be top of mind for many Floridians. Feeding Florida’s member food banks worked during and after Hurricane Irma supporting area refugee shelters, including staging food for entry and distribution into the most heavily impacted areas. Despite being lauded as a critical and effective EOC partner, Feeding Florida knew it could do more to help those in need.

“The team at North Highland took great care to work with our leadership and evaluate our emergency management capacities, an area pivotal to the work we do across the state. Every time we’ve turned to them for thoughtful, research-based study of our needs, potential shifts, or new strategies, they have exceeded our expectations.”— Robin Safley, Feeding Florida Executive Director

Our Approach

North Highland partnered with Feeding Florida to conduct a research-driven review of the network’s operations and disaster response capabilities. We looked at its daily operations (“Blue-Skies”) and existing disaster response strategies (“Grey-Skies”). In partnership with Feeding Florida, team members from our Emergency Management practice developed a survey methodology to gather quantitative and qualitative data about the network’s Blue-Sky operations and the network’s disaster response to Hurricane Irma.

The research methodology included three primary components:

  1. A survey of all Florida Food Banks, including site visits and operations/supply-chain analyses at three locations, and follow-up interviews with executive and operational leadership at each location.
  2. A survey of a sample of Florida Agency (Food Pantry) Partners.
  3. A series of interviews with Florida’s statewide disaster response stakeholders and national disaster response stakeholders regarding Feeding Florida’s Hurricane Irma response efforts.

After analyzing these research outputs, North Highland facilitated a series of meetings with the Board of Directors and fielded follow-up interviews to prioritize eight potential strategies across the variables of staffing requirements, investment costs, and estimated benefits to Floridians. We prioritized three disaster response strategies for implementation, along with one final strategy with the potential for Blue- and Grey-Sky benefits.

Value Delivered

In a detailed report, North Highland provided survey results, interview feedback, and distilled key themes equipping Feeding Florida with the insights to enhance its disaster response strategy and bolster Blue- and Grey-Sky operations.

In addition to the survey and research results, North Highland facilitated sessions with the Board of Directors and staff members to help Feeding Florida prioritize eight specific areas for improvement, one of which was a hurricane season pre-staging plan for critical disaster response food and supplies.

North Highland partnered with the Board and staff members to develop tactical implementation plans for these eight areas enhancing Feeding Florida’s ability to quickly deliver aid and other services to those most in need. For the hurricane season pre-staging strategy, we put our supply chain expertise to the test by performing a storm geographic risk analysis. North Highland identified regional disaster hub food banks enabling Feeding Florida to stock up on critical supplies in the most strategic locations prior to hurricane season each year.