Healthy eatery in a YMCA in Virginia.

Healthy eatery in a YMCA in Virginia.

 Literature Survey For Research Proposal Healthy Eatery in a YMCA in Virginia The inspiration behind the YMCA healthy eatery being proposed is derived from a combination of theoretical frameworks relevant to rural economic development models. Using paradigms that investigate the role of nonprofit organizations in improving the health and economic well-being of individuals in low socioeconomic environments, the paper will illustrate how business models can use market principles to advance nonprofit mission in challenging environments, while simultaneously improving nutrition and fostering local agriculture.

Using paradigms advanced by world economic development strategies advocating local food production and consumption (Bhardwaj, et. Al. 2003 and Spangenberg, 2004), coupled with principles of small business development models that facilitate economic self-sufficiency and employment skills to empower the poor (Egan, 1997. Brown and Davis, 2000. and Hughes, 2003). the analysis will show that nonprofit organizations such as the YMCA can demonstrate profound leadership in developing innovative business models that encourage necessary social change among stakeholders consistent with global socioeconomic development strategies.

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Healthy eatery in a YMCA in Virginia.
Different types of healthy foods placed on a table

Through the nonprofit innovation proposed, the analysis intends to demonstrate how an organization can use its’ unique position to deploy market-based business models that not only improve local health and economic well-being of the community, but accomplishes these objectives using principles and practices that exhibit the highest degrees of ethical integrity with a minimum of risk to mission-based operations. How will this be possible

The YMCA healthy eatery project will be guided by principles of sustainable development recently adopted by British officials (Spangenberg, 2004, p. 1). This report describes optimal economic development conditions as “social progress that recognizes the needs of everyone, [adequately uses] environmental [and other] natural resources, [and] high and stable levels of economic growth and employment.” An even more specific policy recommendation is offered by the United Nations Food & Agriculture Organization that suggests that the key elements of economic development lie in the ethics of agrarian production.

Healthy eatery in a YMCA in Virginia.
A nurse holding a plate of salad and her thumbs up

According to Bhardwaj, et. Al. 2003, economic development programs and projects that are rooted in healthy agricultural production and consumption tend to illustrate a significant degree of ethics. These ethical principles are argued further through feminist development discourse such as that of Egan (1997), where economic development strategies must take into account women’s unique needs, because they are overwhelmingly represented among the poor. She suggests that research evaluating the efficacy of economic development programs should strive to analyze the specific impact upon women. Brown and Davis (200) suggest that longitudinal empowerment of the poor can only occur through programs that enhance social and economic self-sufficiency, rather than breed dependency on public assistance and other forms of charity.

To apply these principles and policies at the local level through the Virginia YMCA, a utilization study will be conducted to determine the likelihood that existing and potential users of the YMCA would support a healthy eatery at the YMCA (Bohrnstedt and Knoke, 1994). Through a survey instrument designed to gather data among a random sample of people living and working in our community, the current analysis will use quantitative methodology to examine the sentiments of people regarding the likelihood that they would support the concept of the YMCA healthy eatery.

To that end, the data collection and analysis will explore public opinion with regard to the healthy eatery’s employment of marginalized workers (i.e. those with involvement in the criminal justice system, those in need of literacy skills, those with sporadic labor market participation due to maternal responsibilities, etc.). The working hypothesis developed through an informal feasibility study is consistent with prior research on nonprofit mission that indicates that non-market oriented public support for YMCA operations is substantial (Miller and Fielding, 1995). The healthy eatery concept is expected to therefore, not only pose no particular financial or program risk to existing operations, but might actually benefit and expand clients through creative diversification of mission-based activities.


Bhardwaj, M., Maekawa, F., Niimura, Y., and Macer, D. R. J. (2003). Ethics in food and agriculture: views from FAO. International Journal of Food Science & Technology, 38(5):565-577.

Bohrnstedt, G. W. and Knoke, D. (1994). Statistics for the Social Sciences. Itasca, IL: Peacock.

Brown, S. G, and Davis, S. (2000). Putting a New Face on Self-Sufficiency. American Journal of Public Health, 90(9).

Egan, M. (1997). Getting Down to Business and Off Welfare: Rural Women Entrepreneurs. Affilia: Journal of Women & Social Work, 12(2): 215-228

Hughes, R. (2003). The experience of dietitians working on interventions in the takeaway food sector: lessons for workforce development. Nutrition & Dietetics, 60(1): 38-41.

Kosny, A. and Eakin, J. M. (2008). The hazards of helping: Work, mission and risk in non-profit social service organizations. Health, Risk & Society, 10(2):149-166.

Miller, L. K. and Fielding, L.W. (1995) The Battle Between the For-Profit Health Club and the “Commercial” YMCA Journal of Sport & Social Issues, 19(1): 76-107.

Spangenberg, J. H. (2004). A Great Step Further but Still More to Go: The UK Sustainable Development Commission Report. Environment, 46(8): 42-25.

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