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Illinois School Breakfast Program

With a growing list of both health and academic benefits associated with children consuming breakfast, there is now a stronger push than ever to get kids eating breakfast at school. Groups around the country are encouraging schools to incorporate breakfast into the school day or at least make it as easy as possible for kids to eat.

School-Breakfast

No Kid Hungry Illinois

No Kid Hungry is one such group that is playing a key role in feeding children throughout the state of Illinois. They are able to provide school districts with funding to buy equipment that will help them implement new and alternative breakfast programs that allow more kids to participate in school breakfast. Such programs include Breakfast in the Classroom, which consists of bringing breakfast to each individual classroom in a school and allowing all kids to eat during the first 10 to 20 minutes of the school day. There is also Grab n’ Go Breakfast, which brings breakfast carts out into the busiest areas of a school and allows kids to quickly grab a breakfast and then move on to their class.

School Breakfast Coordinators

No Kid Hungry in Illinois hires school breakfast coordinators that work for agencies throughout the state. The coordinators help the schools apply for grant funding that is available, as well as working with them every step of the way on implementing new breakfast programs. Being the school breakfast coordinator hired by the St. Louis Area Foodbank to cover the 12 Illinois counties in our service territory allows me the opportunity to work with several amazing school districts that all have best interest of their students at heart.

The 2013-2014 School Year

Beginning with the 2013-2014 school year, the Granite City School District is providing Grab n’ Go Breakfast at both of its middle schools (Grigsby and Coolidge) as well as at Granite City High School. Additionally, the Brooklyn School District is providing Breakfast in the Classroom to students enrolled in kindergarten through 6th grade and Grab n’ Go to grades 7 through 12. Other school districts looking to start programs in late fall or at the start of 2014 are Roxana, East Alton-Wood River High School, Collinsville, Murphysboro, Carbondale, and Madison.

The districts involved thus far are primarily those with higher rates of free and reduced price meal eligible students. However, any district in the state of Illinois is eligible to apply for the breakfast grants, as long as they are working with one of the school breakfast coordinators.

Goal of the Program

The state of Illinois has set a goal to increase student participation in school breakfast programs by 5 percent by the end of the 2013-2014 school year. These alternative breakfast programs and grant resources are a great way to maximize school breakfast participation, which can help lead to healthier, more focused and well-behaved children in our schools.

Participate in the Program

If you work for an Illinois school district that may be interested in implementing an alternative breakfast model, please contact me and we can begin discuss that steps it takes to make it happen.

Contact Kelly Hall at 314-292-5767 or KHall@stlfoodbank.org

By Kelly Hall, RD, LD

IL School Breakfast Coordinator at the St. Louis Area Foodbank. She is a registered dietitian.

Jennings School District Food Pantry

We’re just a few weeks away from school being back in session for kids throughout the bi-state region. With that in mind, I thought it would be good to take a look at a program that we’re very proud of here at the Foodbank – the Jennings School District food pantry. The pantry directly impacts the issue of childhood hunger in an area that desperately needs it.

Kids under the age of 18 make up the largest percentage of those in need of food assistance from the St. Louis Area Foodbank.

Here are some quick facts about the pantry:

Last school year, the Foodbank distributed 48,085 lbs through the school pantry in the Jennings School District. Of this, 36,990 was fresh produce (nearly 77 percent).

Any family with a child enrolled in the district is welcome to utilize this resource. Most have been referred through interaction with a school social worker, and Student Services has also distributed flyers throughout the district. The families have expressed to administration their gratitude regarding the comfort that find in knowing that they have an extremely accessible resource to help them feed their families.

The Jennings Educational Training School (JETS) students have taken ownership of the project, and their hard work and determination has been perhaps the most significant factor in the success of the agency. The pantry provided a sense of responsibility to students, and they are committed to the agency’s operations.

The distribution mechanism was designed by students, and they staff the agency during open hours. The client places an order with a student, who then relays the message to other students who fill the order. This is done in a way that allows the client privacy and dignity. After the order has been assembled, if needed, students are available to assist the client to their vehicle with their items. This method employs the “Client Choice” model of distribution, which the St. Louis Area Foodbank’s agency relations staff recognizes as a best practice.

JETS has forged a partnership with the Jackie Joyner Kersee Foundation to bring a Farmer’s Market to the Jennings Community during summer months. This program allows clients to receive fresh produce through redemption of their SNAP benefits, and allows more clients to have access to food through the food pantry. While this program is still in its infancy, the Jennings School District is demonstrating a commitment to providing supplemental food sources to needy families year-round.

Mr. Leon Hite is going to assume a leadership role and act as the liaison between the Foodbank and the school district. Mr. Hite is the head of security for the district, and will serve as a positive role model and leader for the students that volunteer with the program.

Client Story: Gwen Gore

gwen_gore

Gwen Gore began volunteering at her neighborhood food pantry three years ago, long before she ever needed help herself.

Gwen, 51, worked full-time as a clerical worker at a St. Louis hospital for the last 11 years, so she could only devote a few hours a month to helping hand out food at Jeremiah’s Food Pantry in East St. Louis.

When she suddenly lost her job at the hospital, Gwen decided to commit herself to volunteering until she could find another job. She now volunteers at Jeremiah’s Food Pantry every week.

“I’m a member of this church and they needed help,” Gwen says. “This is a good opportunity for me to give back.”

The pantry is open the first Thursday of the month, and every Wednesday after that.

On one chilly Thursday in February, we met at the pantry, where the St. Louis Area Foodbank had just delivered a truckload of frozen chickens and fresh mushrooms, broccoli and collard greens.

Dozens of families in need flocked to the pantry, excited to find fresh vegetables and meat.

“We had more people than we’ve ever had last month,” Gwen says. “Today, we’ve had 100 people since we opened at 2 p.m.”

Read the full story…

Surpassing Goals and Helping Our Community

This guest post is by Tracy A. Barfield, PAS, Novus Global Marketing Communications Executive Manager

Novus_Team

I like to help and I believe in giving back. As a result I get roped into committees, like the Food Drive Committee. And, because I simply can’t help myself I start saying things like, “What was last year’s goal?” “Why can’t we beat that?” and getting all pushy and driving to topics like employee engagement and participation in helping our community and keeping it in line with our vision at Novus.  And if you are looking for ways to get past “giving fatigue” and meet your goals with a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) event I have some ideas for you.

Keep it inclusive and invite committee members from all parts of your organization. We have great success when we get representatives from Accounting, Marketing, Legal, Research, Operations, etc. all working cross functionally together and more creative ideas are generated by getting folks out of their daily roles.

Set a realistic goal. Lofty objectives beyond the capabilities of your giving base actually serve as a disincentive potential volunteers and givers. We took our total goal and broke it down in $20 increments for giving suggestions. Our total goal for the 2013 Food Drive was $4,000 from employee giving.

Make it personal. We chose the St. Louis Area Foodbank because of all the good it does in our local area. The St. Louis Area Foodbank began serving the community in 1975. It has grown into the bi-state region’s largest nonprofit 501c3 food distributions center dedicated to feeding those in need.

Independence from Summer Hunger- The St. Louis Area Foodbank had recently reported that 148,730 children in the local bi-state region were at risk of summer hunger due to the lack of subsidized school meals during the months of summer vacation. The Novus Food Drive Committee took that message to heart and focused the entire theme of our giving efforts on “Independence from Summer Hunger.”

Thinking Globally/ Acting Locally —Statement of Opinion/Solution—
We’re fortunate to work for a company that has a well-defined vision To help feed the world affordable, wholesome food and achieve a higher quality of life. The Food Drive ties directly to our global thinking, while enabling us to act locally to help the communities where we are headquartered.

From June 25th through July 9th Novus International headquarters employees gave over $4,000 in monetary contributions and 69 lbs. of food donations surpassing our goal. That translated to 37,444 for the bi-state region, when the Novus match was added in to total $10,000 donated to the St. Louis Area Foodbank.

It’s simple, really. –For more ways to help out the St. Louis Area Foodbank check out www.STLFoodbank.org and start a food drive or fundraiser of your own. The focused contribution of a workforce together can make a world of difference on hunger in our community. I love that we surpassed our goal, and would love to hear stories from other organizations on how they help too.

By Tracy Barfield, PAS, Novus Global Marketing Communications Executive Manager

http://www.novusint.com/

Cheap Ideas for Entertaining the Kids

Pinterest

Earlier this summer, I surprised my six-year-old with a cool idea I discovered on the St. Louis Area Foodbank’s Pinterest page.

When he woke up on a particularly hot morning, I told him that somehow, overnight, Darth Vader had snuck into our house and used a freeze ray on Hans Solo and all the other Star Wars good guys.

Our son, who is a huge Star Wars fan, was super excited – and a little mad at Darth Vader – when I showed him that all his Jedi knights were frozen in blocks of ice in our freezer.

He spent several hours that afternoon playing barefoot in the backyard. He had to “rescue” his good guys by shooting the ice blocks with water. It was a fun and cool activity for a hot summer day.

If your kids are bored on these hot summer days, give this a try! Here at the Foodbank, we know how hard it is to keep the kiddos entertained when you’re on a tight budget. But all kids deserve a fun summer!

So try out one of the many free and cheap ideas on our For the Kids page on Pinterest!

http://pinterest.com/stlareafoodbank/for-the-kids/

Eating better just got a bit easier…

Here at the St. Louis Area Foodbank we have been talking a lot about a new Feeding America initiative called “Foods to Encourage.” The program will launch later this year, and will help organizations like ours focus even more on the quality of the food we distribute, in addition to the quantity of food we distribute to people in need. The new program will follow the USDA’s 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans: My Plate structure.

This got me thinking about what I was putting on my own plate. I have always been a pretty healthy eater, but I was still eating more processed foods than I should. In the past, I have used fitness apps to track what I’m eating. But even the best of those apps seemed to fall short when it came rating the nutritional quality of the food I was eating. Most only reported some nutritional values and a calorie count. While they encourage me to eat less, they didn’t actually encourage me to eat more of the whole fresh foods recommended by the USDA.

Then I discover the Fooducate app in a tweet by A Place at the Table Movie. The Fooducate app was exactly what I had been looking for and best of all it was free. This app grades each food based on its nutritional content. With just a few clicks on my phone, Fooducate reports not just how many calories a food item has, but also if it is actually providing your body with the nutrients and fuel it needs to thrive.

You can customize the app to grade food based on a variety of options, such as allergies you may have to nuts or gluten, or whether you’re hoping to stick to a vegan or vegetarian diet. Like the other nutrition apps I have used in the past, you can log your excercise and weight to keep track of your progress. This handy feature helps keep you motivated. Watch Fooducate’s video.

The only cons with the app is that it lacks two main features of most nutrition apps; social integration and a desktop version.

The app is available for both IPhones and Android.

Dave Matthews Band Rallies STL for Hunger Relief

The Dave Matthews Band hits St. Louis tonight, July 10, 2013, with their summer 2013 tour!

This legendary band will not only provide a night of great live music at Verizon Wireless Amphitheater, but they’ll also be fighting hunger and promoting environmental awareness.

The Dave Matthews Band has partnered with REVERB, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, in a massive endeavor called the BamaGreen Project. Locally, they’re partnering with us here at the St. Louis Area Foodbank!

 

 

“The BamaGreen partnership between REVERB, Dave Matthews Band and IZSTYLE began almost 10 years ago, in 2006,” says Paige Roth, volunteer coordinator at REVERB. “In the past we have coordinated coat drives and promoted other causes; this is the first summer focused specifically on food issues.”

At tonight’s concert in St. Louis, Dave Matthews Band will ask fans to bring non-perishable food donations to the show. The St. Louis Area Foodbank will be there to collect food donations outside the main gates.

Once inside the gates, fans can support the Foodbank and hunger relief at the Eco-Village by purchasing a custom Dave Matthews Band basil seed packet for $5.

The Foodbank will use that $5 donation to purchase local produce for St. Louis-area families in need. It’s a great partnership all around!

“Fighting food insecurity and promoting local agriculture are issues that are important to both the Dave Matthews Band and REVERB,” Roth says. “We are excited because this program will connect food resources for people in need with local agriculture, in a meaningful way.”

Ways you can get involved:

  • Donate non-perishable food items at the concert
  • Carpool to the show
  • Visit the Eco-Village at the show
  • Buy food from your local farms as often as possible
  • Connect with the St. Louis Area Foodbank to donate or volunteer

BamaGreen Project is an on-going partnership between Dave Matthews Band, Reverb and IZSTYLE. It encompasses all of the environmental efforts undertaken by the band while on the road, in the studio or at home. In addition to working with the band, the BamaGreen Project is also dedicated to educating DMB fans around the world about how to take simple positive environmental actions.

REVERB is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization founded in 2004 by environmentalist Lauren Sullivan and her musician husband, Adam Gardner of Guster. Reverb provides turn-key greening programs for artists’ tours while conducting grassroots outreach and education with music fans everywhere.

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

Independence Day!

Happy Birthday America

The folks at the St. Louis Area Foodbank are a lot of things…

We’re mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers. We’re loyal St. Louisans and Cardinals baseball fans (most of us anyway).

We’re also patriotic Americans, and not just on the Fourth of July.

So how do we bleed red, white and blue year-round?

For starters, we try to work with and support organizations that provide services to our U.S. military veterans.  Here’s how:

  • In September 2012, the Foodbank distributed more than 28,000 pounds of fresh produce, canned goods and personal care items to 200 veterans and their families at the Stand Down for Veterans event at the Veterans Administration Medical Center in Marion, Ill.
  • In September 2013, the Foodbank will once again distribute these items at the Marion Stand Down event.
  • At three separate events – held April 28, 2012, November 3, 2012, and April 20, 2013 – the Foodbank distributed more than 15,000 pounds of personal care items, canned goods and easy-to-open foods to veterans in need at the Soldier’s Memorial in St. Louis. More than 300 veterans were served at each event! Check out the photos on Facebook »
  • At upcoming Stand Down for Veterans events in our region, we have added wool blankets to the products we will give out to veterans!

In addition to the Stand Down events, the Foodbank also partners with various veterans organizations, including Operation Homefront, to distribute food and furniture to veterans and their families.

Through our Transitional Housing program, we provide a one-month supply of food and household supplies to individuals – including veterans – moving from the street or a shelter to a permanent home.

We are proud to help those who have served our country.  Tomorrow, Foodbank staff will honor those veterans and show our American pride by participating in the 33rd annual July 4 parade in Bridgeton!

The theme this year is St. Louis traditions – and for Foodbank staff, creating a better community for all Americans IS our tradition!

Join us tomorrow at this family-friendly event to celebrate! The parade begins at 10 a.m. Thursday July 4, 2013, at the corner of Lockport and Benedetta. The parade will proceed on Benedetta to Tideland, then turn on Majella then left on Natural Bridge, ending at the Target/Machinist Hall parking lot.

If you’re one of the millions of American traveling over the holiday weekend, please check out these safe travel tips from Affton Patch and insurance.com.

Have a happy and safe Independence Day!