This profile was prepared when Sofia Sarasti was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2002.
The New Idea
Sofia has a new model for hunger relief: updating the previously ineffective and poorly operated food banks that have traditionally handed out food to the needy. Recognizing that food banks were not getting food to all those who were hungry, Sofia launched a pilot food bank to test new methods in food delivery and develop best practices to share with other organizations throughout the country. She has developed systems that evaluate local demand for food and institutions' capacity to meet demand, in order to determine how a food bank might deliver the right amount of food to the greatest number of distribution centers. Sofia also helps centers and soup kitchens quantify and track their inventories, measure effectiveness, formalize accounting, and build capacity. By working with both the food assistance organizations and their providers, Sofia is creating replicable systems to offer more effective hunger relief and avoid resource misuse and inefficiency.