Local Service Group Guidelines and Recommendations
In 2021, the Food Addicts In Recovery Anonymous (FA) World Service Conference voted to include video conference and phone meetings as recognized and supported FA meetings. This created a fundamental change in the organization, allowing us to review how service groups organize themselves and evolve to meet new challenges. The structure and organization of Local Service Groups (LSGs) is emerging, and the term “local” has taken on a new meaning. Virtual and phone meetings are required to designate a particular city location to register, even though their reach may be much broader, including international.
Similarly, today’s LSGs can comprise several provinces or states. They can be an entire island, a small country, or a portion of a state. The term local now represents a broader range in defining the reach and influence of these groups.
These guidelines are intended to answer frequently asked questions and explain the structure, purpose, and goals of LSGs.
What is a Local Service Group (LSG)?
An LSG is an informal group consisting of two or more FA members from more than one FA meeting group who combine resources to do service for FA (FA Bylaws: Article IX, Section 2b).
What is the purpose of an LSG?
An LSG is a service body, not a governing body. LSGs perform functions and provide helpful resources to individual members or meetings. An LSG’s purpose is to:
- Carry the FA message of recovery to the still-suffering food addict and others, such as family, medical professionals, faith community leaders, and employers.
- Create opportunities for connection with other FA members.
- Facilitate communication across meetings.
- Promote unity and recovery through service.
Is the LSG different from FA World Service and Intergroup Committees?
Yes, an LSG consists of FA members who coordinate and collaborate on service projects for targeted geographical areas. LSGs utilize the resources and guidelines provided by existing FA World Service and Intergroup Committees such as connection, Office, Public Information, Teens & Twenties, and Twelve Step. Refer to the section: What resources are available?
Is an LSG like a Chapter?
- No, LSGs are different from a chapter. Organizationally, LSGs are informal. The benefit of this informal structure is that it encourages more FA members to accept short-term service opportunities associated with a particular event. LSGs may have the same person or different people lead their meetings or events.
- Typically, deciding who takes on what role is an informal process of asking for and accepting volunteers. Decisions are made using group conscience. LSG members with 90 days of abstinence have a voice and a vote.
- In contrast, chapters have a formal structure defined by the intergroup with which they affiliate. Chapters must elect officers (chair, vice-chair, secretary, treasurer). The officers appoint the committee chairs. The officer and committee chair positions are rotated according to intergroup bylaws and have clearly defined abstinence requirements, responsibilities, and terms of service.
How does an LSG operate financially?
- LSGs operate like FA meetings. They can elect a treasurer and receive money from FA members and meetings to support outreach efforts in their area. However, being informal, LSGs are not required to submit annual financial reports to their intergroup. Like an FA meeting, an LSG cannot open a bank account in the name of Food Addicts in Recovery Anonymous.
- Legally, LSGs cannot enter into any business transaction, such as room rental, liability insurance for meetings/events, or establish video conferencing accounts in the name of FA. Similar to meetings, these actions are done in the names of the individual fellows performing the service. For this reason, LSGs are advised to find alternatives to high-risk legal agreements, such as meeting spaces requiring liability insurance.
- The LSG may be a precursor to a chapter.
If there are no meetings in my area, why have an LSG?
- The definition of these service groups is “two or more FA members from more than one FA meeting group who combine resources to do service.” However, since our fellowship included virtual and telephone meetings in 2021 in addition to in-person meetings, we broadened our interpretation of this official definition to be two or more FA members who combine resources to do service in a targeted area.
- Given that FA has virtual and telephone meetings, the focus is on FA fellows coming together to do service in a defined area, whether an FA meeting is already registered there or not. FA exists in many worldwide areas that do not have a registered meeting. Where there is one FA member, FA exists in that area! Through our telephone and video conferencing platforms, every FA member has access to the resources of the entire fellowship to help spread the message of FA and grow the fellowship in any area. Refer to the section: How do we get started forming an LSG?
How does an LSG manage its funds?
- Similar to FA meetings, an LSG can create a treasury to receive money from FA fellows and its area meetings to pay for expenses related to its meeting space and outreach/fellowship support efforts.
- A treasury consists of money held in cash by an individual chosen as treasurer or a bank account in the name of the treasurer (or multiple treasurers) to hold and collect money.
- Established LSGs have found that opening a separate bank account with a debit card is beneficial for easy record keeping, establishing video conferencing accounts, and using money collection apps (PayPal, Zelle, Venmo, Cashapp, e-transfers, etc.). These are tied to the account debit card held by the treasurer and keeps money for the LSG separate from the treasurer’s personal bank accounts and finances.
- Having a bank account in the name of an individual treasurer poses the same risks as an FA meeting when electing its treasurer, but with a larger pool of money. For this reason, it is recommended that an LSG treasurer using a bank account have a minimum of 5 years of continuous abstinence and completion of at least one Twelve-Step study focused on food addiction in the current term of abstinence.
- An LSG operates like meetings and only keeps enough money for expenses related to upcoming events, room rentals, or video/teleconferencing fees. All additional monies should follow the recommended donation split between the LSG’s intergroup and World Service Inc. (WSI).
- Like FA meetings, an LSG is self-supporting. Using a meeting space without paying is accepting gifts from outside enterprises. The Seventh Tradition suggests donating to the meeting’s facility. Refer to: Your FA Seventh Tradition.
How do smaller and new LSG groups fund their start-up?
- Each LSG is self-supporting and collects Seventh Tradition funds. However, during the initial start-up phase, financial resources are available through the intergroups. These funds support local efforts to spread the message of FA or sponsor events for the area’s fellowship.
- Contact your intergroup’s Service Group Support Committee (SGSC) for an application and guidelines regarding the type of events and activities supported.
How do we get started forming an LSG?
- Reach out to your Intergroup’s SGSC. Refer to the section: What resources are available?
- Schedule a fellowship gathering in person or virtually to discuss starter events in your area. If virtual, consider using an existing meeting’s video or teleconferencing account per the Traditions Review Committee Index (Search TRC Index by keywords LSG and Treasury.)
- Plan a small service event or project, for example:
- Sponsor three to five trifold racks in the community. The Public Information Committee (PI) helps fund printing area trifolds and providing the racks.
- Visit the local library about putting the Food Addicts In Recovery Anonymous book on their shelves.
- Sponsor an FA booth at a health fair. (Contact the PI Committee for banners and pamphlets.)
- List your monthly meeting day and time on your intergroup’s SGSC web page once the LSG has formed.
When is it beneficial for an area to have more than one Local Service Group?
The purpose of an LSG is to pool resources to do service and “spread the word” efficiently and effectively. However, more than one LSG may be needed in larger metropolitan areas. If so, it is recommended that participating members define clear geographical boundaries so as not to duplicate or overlap efforts.
How does an LSG maintain momentum?
- Plan an event! Asking FA members to support a specific project is more effective than requesting fellows to attend a meeting with nothing planned. FA members love to support their recovery through service.
- Keep it simple. Select manageable and achievable activities to help your group feel it is reaching and supporting other food addicts. Invite everyone who attends to contribute in some way. Remember, “any service, no matter how small, adds to the quality of our own recovery.”
- Access the Public Information tab on the FA website for service project ideas and review them as a group. This is a great opportunity to invite PI reps to attend the LSG meeting. When planning a PI event, the LSG adheres to the abstinence guidelines outlined on the PI Resources page under the Public Information tab.
- Send out an agenda at least a week before the meeting.
- Encourage sponsees to participate in LSGs in their area, if available.
- Announce the LSG meetings and current projects at your regular FA meetings and monthly business meetings.
- Plan periodic events such as Fellowship Days, connection writing workshops, FA Information Sessions, and ongoing activities such as maintenance or distribution of trifolds and racks.
- Be willing to try new ideas and share your experiences and outcomes at the SGSC quarterly meeting!
What resources are available?
- Service Group Support Committee - This committee is specifically in place to help support LSGs, Chapters, and Intergroups.
- connection Committee (Format for connection Writing Session)
- Office Committee (Area Meeting Trifolds)
- Public Information Committee
- Teens & Twenties Outreach Events
- FA College Outreach
- EAI Teens and Twenties Committee