Emergency feeding programs come in a variety of sizes and operational syles. Some
are large with full-time, trained staff members. Many are small and operate mainly
with volunteer help. Regardless of the size or staffing, all emergency feeding programs
share a common goal of providing safe, nutritious food to people who might otherwise
go without. The STRETCH card and information system is a self-assessment tool to:
- Help emergency food providers examine the strengths and weaknesses of their individual
- Encourage programs to set goals and priorities.
- Provide information and education.
- Using a set of STRETCH cards, the learner will assess the way his/her organization
handles nutrition, food safety, and volunteer management issues and determine areas
of strength and weakness within their program.
- Based on their own assessment, the learner will select areas for improvement, set
goals, and prioritize those goals.
Facilitating the Activity:
- STRETCH Card Set
- STRETCH Information Sheets
- STRETCH Worksheet
- Explain to the learners that the goal of the STRETCH activity is to help them examine
their own organization and determine areas of strength and weakness in regard to
the way they handle nutrition, food safety, and volunteer management issues.
- Ask the learners to remove their STRETCH cards from the package. Explain that there
are 18 cards. Each card is labeled with a category and a number in the upper right
hand corner. Cards 1-11 deal with food safety, 12-15 with nutrition, and 16-18 with
volunteer management. Each card consists of a heading, which indicates the general
category covered by the card, an opening statement, and a series of questions.
- Explain to the learner that they will sort through the card set 3 times. The first
time through, the learner should read the heading on each card. Instruct the learner
to set aside cards with a headline that does not pertain to their operation. For
example, a program that distributes bags of canned or shelf-stable foods would set
aside cards that deal with meal preparation and refrigerated or frozen foods.
Once the learner has elimated all cards that do not apply to his/her operation,
encourage them to look at each remaining card again. Encourage learners to read
each of the questions on the cards and think about them. Instruct learners to keep
those cards containing questions that they feel their organization handles inadequately.
Discard cards containing questions the learner feels are adequately addressed by
After completing the second step, the learner should be left with a series of cards
that contain areas that may need more thought or improvement. Encourage the learner
to read each remaining card again and think about how each issue/problem area might
- Encourage learners to use the worksheet that follows to record the cards they have
selected for improvement and to list goals and set priorities. Remind learners that
some problems are more difficult/costly/time consuming to correct than others. Ask
learners to divide goals into short and long term.
- Direct learners to the STRETCH Information Sheets that correspond to the numbered
cards they have selected for further work.