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Summertime Equals Fresh Produce, Even for Families in Need

Produce

Summertime means fresh fruits and veggies at local farmers markets, in your own garden, and even right here at the St. Louis Area Foodbank.

This week, the Foodbank held two food fairs – one-day food distributions to several hundred families in need.  At those events, we were lucky enough to give out tens of thousands of pounds of fresh produce.

Girl packing corn

On Wednesday, Foodbank drivers and staff delivered 26,215 pounds of food to Owensville, Mo.  Included in that food was an amazing 18,380 pounds of fresh produce!

More than 180 families in need received fresh-picked corn, watermelon, potatoes, cantaloupe, strawberries and onions.  A special thanks to Rep. Tom Hurst and the staff of Rep. Dave Schatz for helping volunteers hand out the food! See the photos on Facebook »

On Thursday, Foodbank staff visited Irvington, Ill., where we handed out more than 26,000 pounds of food to more than 170 families.

At the food fair in this small Illinois town, individuals struggling with hunger received carloads of canned goods, fresh corn, cantaloupe, onions, watermelon, cabbage and potatoes. Check out the photos on Facebook »

We are especially grateful to the volunteers and pantry staff who help us hand out food on these hot summer days.

We are also grateful to you – the donors – who provide the funds we need to be able to provide fresh produce to families in need!

Would you like to help provide more healthy food for our communities most vulnerable families. Donate now »

By Bethany Prange
Communications coordinator at the St. Louis Area Foodbank.

You Get What You Give – Victory Dream Center

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“He’s one of my brothers!”

A young boy shouted these words as he wrapped his arms around Pastor Nathan Cherry of Victory Dream Center in Carbondale, Ill.

He is just one of many children who attended the Victory Dream Center’s food distribution on a recent Saturday evening. To this little guy, Nathan and Victory are a part of his family.

After all, for the little boy’s family – and others like them – Victory is a comforting place where they can get the food they need.

It is clear that Nathan and his agency are succeeding in their mission to leave a positive impression in the community.

Nathan recently talked about his experiences with St. Louis Area Foodbank Agency Relations Coordinator Kate Hartman.

1. Please give me your name and the name of the agency where you volunteer. 

Nathan Cherry; Victory Dream Center in Carbondale, Ill.

2. When did you first become involved with this agency? 

I started at the Dream Center in 2003 and we began partnering with the St. Louis Area Foodbank in July 2010.

3. What prompted you to begin working or volunteering with this agency? 

“My parents started the church. I was immediately involved from the start and I knew I wanted to be in the ministry,” Nathan says. “After I graduated from college I came on full time and started managing most everything here.”

“In 2009, we started talking about expanding our outreach in the community. We really wanted to do something more for the people and thought food was the best option.  That was really the bottom line; we wanted to do more.”

4. How many people does your agency serve on an average month? 

We serve 1,000 families and 3,500 individuals.

5. How do you feel the St. Louis Area Foodbank affects the services you are able to provide your clients?  

“Oh, it’s everything,” Nathan says.  “If we didn’t have the St. Louis Area Foodbank we wouldn’t be able to do what we’re doing. Ninety-nine percent comes from the Foodbank.”

6. Do you feel the work you do is really making a difference in the lives of the people you serve? Can you tell me about an experience that made you feel you were making an impact?

“Definitely.  In the last three years we have a lot more people in the community that know about us because of what we do,” Nathan says.

“As for one specific testimony? I can think of a lot.  One that comes to mind is a single-parent family – a mother raising six kids.  We delivered some food to them, and then they started coming here.  Eventually, she started volunteering here, and she’s one of our most faithful volunteers.”

“A lot of people—when they start receiving—want to give.  This is a great way for them to give.  That’s exciting to see,” Nathan says.

7. In your time as a volunteer/staff member, what are the most significant changes you have seen? 

“Clearly, connecting with the St. Louis Area Foodbank has been the biggest change,” Nathan says. “The St. Louis Area Foodbank has put Victory Dream Center on the map.  We’re grateful to the staff.”

8. From your vantage point, what one thing would you like to see happen to improve the economic situation in America? 

“More of a connection between the upper and lower class — in the essence of charitable contributions,” Nathan says. “What I see, what I teach, and what I live, is whatever you give, you’re going to get.”

Kate_Hartman

Kate Hartman is an agency relations coordinator at the St. Louis Area Foodbank

Food Straight From the Farm to Your Front Door

Tomatos

Have you looked inside your refrigerator lately and noticed it was a bit empty because you haven’t had time to grocery shop?

If pushing a cart through the grocery store to stock up the fridge seems like just another overwhelming task in your busy week, we have an alternative solution.

If you live in the bi-state region, Green B.E.A.N (Biodynamic, Education, Agriculture, Nutrition) Delivery – Missouri will bring healthy food right to your door.

The idea behind this form of fresh product distribution began in 2007 in Indiana, according to Evan Winkler, purchasing manager for Green B.E.A.N Delivery – Missouri.

The owners of Green B.E.A.N Delivery were eager to network with local farmers to build a food system based on enjoying local, fresh food and encouraging economic growth.

The success of their locations in Indiana led to openings in Ohio, Kentucky and the St. Louis metro area.  Since it opened in February, the St. Louis-area location has already grown to nearly 600 orders per week.  Green B.E.A.N will deliver to any area within a 30-35 mile radius of their O’Fallon, Mo., facility. Check out their service area map ❯

The St. Louis Area Foodbank had the pleasure of being introduced to Green B.E.A.N Delivery – Missouri in early February.  In celebration of their O’Fallon location grand opening, a truck delivered nearly 3,000 pounds of assorted produce to our warehouse.

The Foodbank later created a more committed partnership with Green B.E.A.N.  For the last four months, the Foodbank has received loads of produce items that are not used for customer orders.

Every Monday morning, a Foodbank driver makes a stop at the O’Fallon location to retrieve any food that was not used for orders the week prior.  The boxes we receive are filled with produce and natural grocery items that are in need of immediate consumption.

Once we bring the product back to our warehouse, we distribute the food directly to an agency that operates a weekly youth program.  With the 300-400 pounds of food Green B.E.A.N. donates each week, the Foodbank is able to provide roughly 300 nutritious meals to children who may not otherwise have access to healthy and fresh foods.

We look forward to a continuing partnership with Green B.E.A.N Delivery – Missouri, especially as we head into the peak of the summer growing season!

To learn more about the Green B.E.A.N services, their partnered farmers, and how they provide community outreach, please visit www.greenbeandelivery.com.

 

Shannon O’Connor
Shannon O’Connor is the Distribution Manager at the St. Louis Area Foodbank

 

 

Lawyers Feeding Illinois

In the past few years, we’ve been fortunate to partner with the law community in the bi-state area on several great projects.

In the September 2011 issue of St. Louis Lawyer, Dale Joerling and Robert J. Wagner, both of Thompson Coburn LLP, published “How local charities can benefit from your cypres settlements.” The article detailed a unique way lawyers have contributed to St. Louis Area Foodbank—through settlements that requires cy pres distribution.  Cy pres is French, meaning “as close as possible.” When a gift is made by will or trust (usually for charitable or educational purposes), and the named recipient of the gift does not exist, has dissolved, or no longer conducts the activity for which the gift is made, then the estate or trustee must make the gift to an organization which comes closest to fulfilling the purpose of the gift. Recently, cy pres has been used in class action lawsuits where it is difficult to locate the intended beneficiaries (class members).  Whatever the reason, courts often must decide who, if anyone, should receive the unclaimed benefits.

In October 2012, President & CEO of St. Louis Area Foodbank, Frank Finnegan, was presented with a Spirit of Justice Award at the St. Louis Bar Foundation’s 5th Annual Golden Gala.

Then, in early 2013, we were supported by another great project conducted by the law community – Lawyers Feeding Illinois (LFI).

LFI was a competitive food and fund-raising campaign among lawyers and legal organizations across Illinois. The campaign supported the work of Feeding Illinois.

From February 18 – March 1, 2013, teams of lawyers competed to earn points by collecting food and funds. All donations were routed to local food banks based on zip codes, so contributions directly supported local communities.
Spearheaded by the Illinois State Bar Association, the LFI campaign was supported by theAttorneys’ Title Guaranty Fund and Attorney General Lisa Madigan, as well as several law firms, law schools, judges and bar associations.

In the first year of campaign, nearly 100 teams donated enough resources to provide an estimated 3.8 million meals to families in Illinois.

One organization in our service territory, Land of Lincoln Legal Assistance Foundation, was honored with the Best Government/Non-Profit Award!

The St. Louis Area Foodbank is one of eight food banks in the Feeding Illinois network that benefitted from the LFI campaign. We’d like to thank everyone who made the first year a success.

Donations from Lawyers Feeding Illinois help the St. Louis Area Foodbank serve families in the following 12 Illinois counties:

  • Calhoun
  • Jersey
  • Madison
  • St. Clair
  • Monroe
  • Randolph
  • Clinton
  • Washington
  • Perry
  • Jackson
  • Franklin
  • Williamson

 

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

How the Farm Bill Could Affect Food Stamps…

The food stamp program, now known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, helps put food on the table for more than 47 million low-income participants each month. When the number of families struggling to make ends meet increases, SNAP responds quickly and effectively to meet that need. The program serves as the nation’s first line of defense against hunger. If it is weakened, many millions of Americans will be harmed, including the elderly, people with disabilities, struggling parents (both working and unemployed), and children. The nation will see more hunger and food insecurity, worse health and educational outcomes.

The Senate passed a farm bill on June 10, 2013, cutting food stamps by $4 billion over a decade. The bill awaiting debate in the House calls for a $20 billion cut, the largest in a generation. Under this plan, some 2 million people would lose benefits. In addition to the farm bill SNAP cuts, the increase in SNAP benefits established by the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA) will come to an end on November 1, 2013. Every SNAP recipient will be affected by these across-the-board reductions.

Almost half of SNAP recipients are children

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities reports that SNAP benefits not only keep a lot of people from going hungry, but they also help families purchase more nutritious foods. Close to half of the recipients of SNAP benefits also happen to be children. According to new Map the Meal Gap data released by Feeding America this week, there are over 312,000 food insecure children in Missouri.

From a policy perspective, there are many reasons to avoid making cuts to the program.

Nonprofit organizations cannot make up the difference in these proposed cuts. It is imperative to preserve and protect these vital programs. SNAP relieves pressure on overwhelmed food banks, pantries, religious congregations and other emergency food providers across the country who could not begin to meet the need for food assistance if SNAP eligibility or benefits were reduced.

Food stamps have a positive effect on the economy. Moody Analytics, in assessing the impact that food stamps have, estimates that for every dollar of food stamps spent, there is an increase of $1.73 in economic activity. Based on this report, the cuts to food stamps could actually weaken potential economic recovery.

Every time a family uses SNAP benefits to put healthy food on the table, many sources benefit. These sources include the store that sells the product, the employees of the store where the purchase was made, the truck driver who delivered the food to the store, the warehouses that store the food before it is delivered, the plant that processed the food, and the farmer who produced the food.

We need to protect and strengthen nutrition programs and policies that shield vulnerable, low-income Americans from hunger. In order to meet the goal of ending child hunger, obesity, and poverty it is important to support SNAP instead of limiting its ability to help struggling families afford healthy foods.

Please Tell Congress to Protect Anti-hunger Programs » »

Melanie Hickcox
Melanie Hickcox is the SNAP Project Manager atMissouri Food Bank Association.

Fresh Beginnings – At One Time or Another, Everyone Needs a New Start

Transitional Housing

The St. Louis Foodbank operates a Transitional Housing Program for people moving from a local shelter into their own residence.

We know it’s hard to scrape together the funds to pay a month’s rent, not to mention the utility down payments, security fees, etc.

To help with those one time additional costs, we provide a 30-day supply of food and other household items. Everyone needs a little help at some point, or at least some guidance.

Judy and I created our own transitional housing program with our daughter. After graduating from Missouri State University, Shawn accepted a job as a travel director.

The position has taken Shawn to many exotic places, but it also required that she spend the vast majority of her time out of town. Therefore, there wasn’t much sense in moving her into an apartment.

Loving parents that Judy and I are, we told her she was welcome to live with us but she’d have to pay rent. The Finnegan family transitional housing program had two options.

Shawn’s first option was to pay $250 each month and her loving parents would thank her very much and spend it on meals, movies and entertainment. Her second option was to pay $500 each month and we would return the entire sum whenever she decided to move out.

Shawn paid us rent for three years before an overpowering urge to flee drove her out and now has her paying rent to complete strangers.

Looking back, I’m happy about two things. First, Shawn paid the higher sum. Second, Judy collected the monthly rent payments and dutifully put them in the bank. Eighteen months after moving out of her parents’ home, Shawn bought her own house with the down payment from our transitional housing program.

Judy and I are in an enviable position. We have college educations, we both work and we’re able to live within our means. We have one child who successfully navigated the tumultuous years from 16 to 25. That seems to be the decade when parents everywhere pray their children don’t make one really stupid decision that could forever change their lives for the worse.

Transitional Housing Family

We know that circumstances beyond our control happen every day. A serious illness, a car accident, a lost job – so many things could start a spiral down that suddenly gets out of control.

Shelters are full of people who fell into that downward spiral. They certainly never planned on being in a shelter.

I’m thankful the Foodbank’s Transitional Housing Program can be there to help these folks down on their luck; just as I’m thankful Judy and I were able to help Shawn.

Everyone – at one time or another – needs a chance for a new start…a fresh beginning.

 

 

Frank Finnegan
St. Louis Area Foodbank President and CEO Frank Finnegan first shared a version of this story in the March 2013 Tablesetter newsletter.

Comic On The Rise to Headline Foodbank Benefit

Hunger is No Laughing Matter

The first time I came across comedian John Mulaney was back in 2008. He was on a show called “Best Week Ever” on VH-1.

On the show, a group of comedians spent a half hour making witty comments about the happenings of pop culture in the “week that was.”

Since 2008, I’ve seen Mulaney on my TV several times – in a few appearances during the Weekend Update segment on Saturday Night Live and on various late night talk shows.

I caught his Comedy Central special, “New In Town,” last year and felt like I was starting to hear his name more and more.

So when we were looking for a headliner for this year’s “Hunger Is No Laughing Matter” benefit for the St. Louis Area Foodbank, I immediately thought of Mulaney.  He’s a rare combination for a comedian – funny and well-known, but not too blue or risqué.

In fact, when we asked our Social Media Avengers for suggestions on comedians, Avenger Nick Sargent from Standing Partnership asked, “have you ever heard of this guy, John Mulaney?”

Nick’s suggestion validated my premise that Mulaney was a comic on the rise.

It was around that time that I discovered that John had been asked to shoot a pilot sitcom loosely based on his life for NBC.

Lorne Michaels of Saturday Night Live fame was executive producing the show and it seemed like by the time our event came around in August, Mulaney’s career would be on fire.

As it turns out, NBC decided to pass on Mulaney.

Still, a passed-over sitcom doesn’t change my belief that Mulaney is one of the most talented young comedians in the country. Clearly, I’m not alone in my opinion.

Click here to read Elise Czajkowski’s editorial about John and his show on Splitsider.com.

I encourage everyone to come see what I’m talking about on Saturday, August 17, 2013 at The Pageant. I’m positive you’ll agree that Mulaney is worth seeing in person.

The Foodbank has an internet pre-sale running through 10 p.m. Thursday June 6, 2013.  Tickets go on-sale to the public through all Ticketmaster outlets this Friday, June 7, 2013 at 10 a.m.

Here’s the link - http://www.ticketmaster.com/event/06004ABEA7B870C0The pre-sale password is: Foodbank.

Last year’s event with Mike Birbiglia and Greg Warren was a huge success for the Foodbank and we’re hoping this year’s event will be even better.

Get your tickets today!

Ryan Farmer

  Ryan Farmer is the communications manager at the St. Louis Area Foodbank