Too many nonprofits is a frequent mantra in today's donor market. And many nonprofit boards these days are learning that "going it alone" isn't a feasible option given limited funding options and lots of competition. As one solution, board members with a clear Theory of Change/Mission find ways to pursue mission by working with partners to maximize resources for all. But So Others May Eat tried this route and it just didn't work out. The reality is that partnerships are as much relational as they are transactional and it appears that the folks at So Others May Eat were so focused on getting food to their patrons that they failed to jump through the hoops (or honor) the parameters set by the partners. Now, So Others May Eat is going it alone and it appears that its patrons are not yet worse off. How long they will be able to continue in this fashion remains to be seen and is definitely not THE model for partnering but as you can see in the LA Times story, the theory of change was put first among the competing possibilities. Maybe it will be OK in the long run, but....
The roots of So Others May Eat date back to 2008, when Souza helped in a small program that served home-cooked dinners at Sacred Heart Church in Ocean Beach.
She expanded the program by recruiting companies to donate food, and in 2009 she brought it to Mary Star of the Sea in La Jolla, where her son attended school.
The program became an official nonprofit at the church. Souza recalled that the person who helped her with the paperwork asked why she was doing it, and she said, “So others may eat,” giving the program a name.
The nonprofit had some ups and downs over the year. Souza said it expanded in 2010 to St. Brigid Parish in Pacific Beach, but ended a year later after a falling out with the church. It also was at a Baptist Church in Clairemont, but petered out after about two years.
Souza said her relationship at Sacred Heart began to fall apart last October when she learned the church had an appreciation dinner for volunteers in the program without telling her or recognizing So Others May Eat. She said the church severed its relationship with the program after she complained the nonprofit was being slighted, which she felt could have jeopardized its ability to get grants.
A more public division happened about two weeks later, when Mary Star of the Sea canceled dinners that had been held at the church for seven years. At the time, the Rev. Jim Rafferty at the church said the decision was made because of ongoing renovations at the church hall and concerns about the spread of hepatitis A, which had largely affected the homeless population.
City officials, service providers and others have