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Will Walk For Food

Foodbank employee Kate Hartman carries a bin of food brought back to the post office by route volunteers / Photo by Bethany Prange

Calling all volunteers! Calling all volunteers! We need your help!

Stamp Out Hunger, the annual National Letter Carrier’s Food Drive, is Saturday, May 12, 2012, and we still need volunteers!

This is no ordinary volunteer gig! For one day, you will be helping to feed the thousands of individuals struggling with food insecurity in the bi-state region. Plus, you will be performing a great service for your local U.S. Postal Service letter carriers.

Many people don’t realize that during Stamp Out Hunger, it is solely up to the letter carriers to pick up the donated foods left on porches and next to mail boxes across the country. As you can imagine, this amounts to thousands upon thousands of pounds of food that need to be lifted and carried to mail trucks up and down the streets of our cities and towns.

Our letter carriers generously donate their time and energy to picking up the donated food, but would certainly appreciate any extra “hands for helping.” In the immediate St. Louis metro region alone, the St. Louis Area Foodbank has several locations where you can donate a few hours of your time to this project.

Now, we know this work sounds hard. It is. But it is also a lot of fun and very rewarding – you get to see tangible results of your work. You’ll be picking up and sorting food donated by your fellow St. Louisans and helping it get to the Foodbank, where it will go straight to those who need it most.

As an added bonus, you’ll receive a free t-shirt and lunch!

On May 12, we have openings for both route and dock workers.

Route volunteers duties:

• Follow the mail carrier to the beginning of their mail route and park your vehicle

• Walk up and down the designated streets of the mail route, collecting the bags of food

•  Carry the bags of donated food back to the carrier’s mail truck

• Walk neighborhood streets, looking for signs of donated food on porches, in paper or plastic bags and/or hanging from their mailboxes.

The route volunteers are essential in lighting the load on our letter carriers.

“By having a volunteer pick up donated food from customers takes a huge weight off our letter carriers shoulders and is deeply appreciated,” says Bob Rapisardo, Vice President/Financial Secretary of the National Association of Letter Carriers – Branch 343.

In addition to the route volunteers, we also need dock workers. At each designated Post Office location, the letter carriers rely on these volunteers to quickly unload and sort the food.

Dock worker duties:

• Choose a Post Office location and meet there at the designated time

• Unload bags of food being dropped off at the loading docks by the Letter Carriers

• Sort and load the food into large cardboard boxes that will then be transported by Foodbank drivers

Sign up for dock work and route worker volunteer responsibilities here:http://stlfoodbank.volunteerhub.com/Events/Browse.aspx

Even if you are unable to volunteer on May 12, you can still help by placing a bag of non-perishable food items around your mail box. Once the food is picked up from the houses it is taken back to a nearby postal site, sorted and loaded on to a Foodbank vehicle.

The food will be distributed to our partner agencies – food pantries, soup kitchens and shelters – on Monday morning! The community is one of the major factors in making this food drive a success. So please get involved and give back to your neighbors in need!

    Casey Milton is the food donations coordinator at the St. Louis Area Foodbank

Bikers Bring Backpacks of Love

Two area bikers show up for the Bikers for Backpacks event at the St. Louis Area Foodbank / Photo by Bethany Prange

The first Bikers for Backpacks Ride for St. Louis Area Foodbank was a huge success thanks to the wonderful people who showed up to ride, donate or volunteer their time.
Although Friday was cold and rainy, Mother Nature smiled on us on Saturday, shining down with sunny skies and only a slight chill in the air.  When we set up our registration table in the Foodbank’s back parking lot, we weren’t quite sure how many motorcycles we’d see that day.

But from 9 to 10 a.m., a steady stream of riders followed the curve of Corporate Woods Drive, steering their motorcycles onto the lot.  Before long, the Foodbank parking lot looked like a bike show, with dozens of motorcycles on display.

Before we left our parking lot at 10:30 a.m., we counted 41 motorcycles of various designs, styles and colors. The best part was, the riders seemed to have really enjoyed finding a backpack that either matched – or contradicted – their bikes.

One biker dressed in leathers wore a menacing gray and black skull bandana on his face. He paired it with a bright pink Hello Kitty backpack stuffed with kid-friendly food donations.

Then there were leather-clad cyclists carrying red and blue Spiderman backpacks, boxes of Kool-Aid and even pink and purple backpacks filled with donations.

The highlight was a mystery rider who showed up in full motorcycle gear, but rode a bicycle! He pedaled up to the starting point with a backpack filled with food and claimed he would be getting a head start. Somehow he managed to make every stop on his bicycle.  Hmmm?

 

After leaving the Foodbank, the riders made stops at several establishments before ending later in the afternoon at the Hawg Pit restaurant in Grafton.

Each rider made a monetary donation or brought a backpack filled with kid-friendly food items for the St. Louis Area Foodbank. The Foodbank provides meals to 261,000 people a year in 26 counties in Missouri and Illinois. Of those individuals, 39% are children under the age of 18.

In all, the first Bikers for Backpacks Ride raised $1,000 in cash donations and brought in 49 backpacks filled with 839 pounds of easy-access, nutritional, kid-friendly food.

Helmets off to everyone who made donations, including Mary Beth Bergfeld and her group from UPS who donated 136 pounds and $25 to the ride!

All the food donations will be packed by volunteers and distributed over the next few weeks. In all, the food and funds donated during the ride equal about 4605 meals for hungry kids!

Keep your eyes and ears open for the 2013 ride and pass the word on to your friends.

Thank you so much for your kindness and generosity. And please WATCH FOR MOTORCYCLES ON THE ROADS!

Ride safely!

    Trish Jenner is a volunteer coordinator at the St. Louis Area Foodbank

 

Birds In Flight

Chef Wil Pelly, Chef de Cuisine at Diablitos Cantina, prepares empanadas at Urban Eats Cafe / Photo by Patrick Delhougne 

In the forward to Cause Marketing for Nonprofits: Partner for Purpose, Passion, and Profits, Carol Cone wrote:

Eighty-two percent of Americans say they have a more positive image of a business when it joins hands with a nonprofit, and 76 percent have a more positive image of the nonprofit when it partners with a company.

 

On February 23, the St. Louis Area Foodbank partnered with Small Plates 314, a local St. Louis event that aims to combine exciting culinary cuisine and networking.

The first gathering was held at Urban Eats Café, where a diverse group of people networked and learned how to prepare empanadas from Chef Wil Pelly, Chef de Cuisine at Diablitos Cantina.

Jeremy Stewart, Courtney Lytle and Lauren Salesman wanted to incorporate giving back into the event.

When all parties involved are in sync, cause marketing can be as natural and effective as a skein of Earth City geese. In this particular flight, the Foodbank achieved two primary objectives.

 First, by inviting me to speak at the event, Smallplates314 enabled the Foodbank to deliver on our mission to educate the public about hunger.

Also, halfway through the night, Lauren asked me to make a guest Tweet on her laptop.

I tweeted: “Chef Wil Pelly is putting on a great show, the crowd learned a little about @STLFoodbank and good eatin’ is right around the corner!”

By posting multiple messages on social media about the Foodbank, Smallplates314 raises awareness for hunger relief in the community.

Second, by donating a portion of the proceeds, Smallplates314 helps raise the resources necessary to feed hungry people in the community.

As a bonus, networking with entrepreneurs and young professionals set the stage for future partnerships.

You could say Smallplates314 helps the Foodbank to establish a positive image with 76 percent of St. Louisans, although it felt like 100 percent at the event.

Giving back also benefits Smallplates314 in two unique ways.

First, by channeling their resources (ticket sales, social media, speaking engagements) to fight hunger, Smallplates314 enhances their image in the community.

I asked one woman at the event, “How did you hear about tonight?”

She said, “In the e-newsletter from Sauce Magazine. I thought it sounded interesting, and I felt good about going knowing that it benefitted the Foodbank.”

Second, partnering with the Foodbank increases visibility for Smallplates314 — this blog being just one example of that!

It was a fun evening for networking and learning about food.

We are grateful giving back was also included in the event, and we look forward to partnering with more businesses during events like this one.

When we partner with a business — like birds in flight — all parties involved help each other reach a final destination.

See pictures from the event at – http://www.smallplates314.com

    Patrick Delhougne is a development associate at the St. Louis Area Foodbank.