Rivers & Roads Completes Eastern Shore Food Lab 2024 – 2029 Strategic Plan

A document held in the outstretched hands of a woman sitting near a coach.

Chestertown, MD – Bill and Christina Schindler, founders of the Eastern Shore Food Lab, engaged Rivers & Roads Consulting to facilitate strategic planning for the Chestertown, MD-based nonprofit. Embracing a comprehensive approach to stakeholder engagement, the Eastern Shore Food Lab (ESFL), under the facilitation of Rivers & Roads’ co-founder and partner Sam Shoge and a team of consultants, embarked on a journey of introspection and community involvement. Over the course of four months, voices from across the organization’s ecosystem were heard, reflecting on its past achievements and envisioning its future trajectory.

“Working with Rivers & Roads was a pleasure,” remarks Christina Schindler, president of ESFL. “Their commitment to understanding our organization’s ethos and engaging with our community in meaningful ways was instrumental in shaping our strategic direction.”

The decision to collaborate with Rivers & Roads stemmed not only from their expertise but also from a shared history deeply rooted in the Eastern Shore. Sam Shoge’s personal connection to the organization, coupled with his familiarity with its locale, brought an added layer of insight to the strategic planning process.

“Working on this strategic plan was a real treat and brought me full circle with the organization,” said Shoge. “When I worked as an admissions officer at Washington College, one of the most effective recruiting stories I told was of the hands-on, experiential experiences students would receive in Bill Schindler’s anthropology classes and the Food Lab. It was great to be a part of the process that focused on leveraging that experiential experience to maximize organizational reach and impact. ”

Now in it’s 3rd year as an independent nonprofit, the Eastern Shore Food Lab was first established in 2017 as a center at Washington College. After it was successfully spun out from Washington College in 2021, the ESFL served as a catalyst for subsequent complementary ventures. In short succession, Bill and Christina launched the Modern Stone Age Kitchen–an award-winning restaurant that makes artisan food from scratch using ancestral techniques–and Eat Like A Human, the title of Bill’s groundbreaking book and the overarching brand and philosophy of Bill and Christina’s efforts.

Juggling classes, international travel, online content, daily food production, and an ambitious research agenda, Bill and Christina recognized the need for strategic planning to bring organizational clarity and to ensure smart, sustainable growth was kept at the forefront of all actions.

With a focus on fiscal and team growth coupled with intensive stakeholder engagement, Rivers & Roads outlined a four-step recursive process that detailed what the organization was currently accomplishing, what the organization wanted to achieve, what stakeholders believed to be the organization’s strengths and weaknesses, and how the organization would overcome all strategic issues identified throughout the process. Data was compiled from the ESFL’s documents and social media accounts to assess how the mission of the organization was being executed. Assessments and a SWOT analysis were conducted through listening sessions, surveys, and individual interviews to gather feedback.

Rivers & Roads engaged stakeholder groups including board members, long-term supporters of the Eastern Shore Food Lab (ESFL), donors, and former and current class participants. Throughout the process, Rivers & Roads met frequently with Bill & Christina to review and assess the extensive data, material, and feedback gleaned from the research and outreach.

As the culmination of months of rigorous analysis and deliberation, the strategic plan will serve as a blueprint for the ESFL’s continued evolution and impact.

To learn more about the Eastern Shore Food Lab and its founders, Bill and Christina Schindler, visit their website at eatlikeahuman.com.


About Rivers & Roads Consulting

Rivers & Roads Consulting is a regional leader in community, economic, and real estate development consulting. With a keen focus on driving transformative change, our firm collaborates closely with mission-oriented nonprofits, forward-thinking local governments, and ambitious entrepreneurs to conceptualize and execute initiatives that invigorate communities and stimulate sustainable growth.

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