While Michelle Koehn, The Community Table’s new executive director, has budgets and other numbers on her mind, she is also thinking beyond immediate concerns and into the nonprofit’s future.
“I think our long-term goal — it sounds really lofty, but I think it’s totally doable — is to work with our partners, sponsors and other charities to lower the number of people who are food insecure,” Koehn said, “and help poverty in a very real way in Eau Claire.”
Koehn, a former executive director of Sculpture Tour Eau Claire, began leading The Community Table on Nov. 1.
When she arrived at the helm, Koehn inherited an operating budget struggling to keep up with rising demand. For the past two years, the organization that offers hot meals to anyone in need has had to reach into savings to keep up its more than 40,000 meals offered per year.
The Community Table’s current operating budget is just under $300,000, Koehn said, and a few years ago it was $400,000. She said the goal is to reach that number again within the next year or two by using her experience with grants and collaborating with sponsors.
“I think we have a huge undertaking to get back onto solid financial footing,” Koehn said. “(We want) to develop a strategic plan to create longevity and continuity in our service so we can continue serving meals every day. That in itself is what addresses our mission, which is fighting food insecurity.”
Ben Franko, The Community Table board president, said he’s excited for Koehn’s contributions.
“We’re hoping that she’s going to be a public face for the organization,” Franko said, “and that she’ll be able to use her connection to the community and increase those donations to create long-lasting financial support.”
Beyond the budget, Koehn said she wants to work more with other organizations to lower the number of people who need food aid in the city.
“I cannot underscore enough that this is a community-led endeavor,” she said.
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