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Foodbank Staff Boosts Local School Breakfast Participation

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Children who eat a healthy breakfast have not only improved overall health and well-being, but a better chance at a positive academic future.

New studies show that children who go without a good morning meal suffer from more health conditions and have poor attendance and graduation rates.

That’s why it is vital that all our local schools operate a successful school breakfast program. After all, for many children, the breakfast and lunch they eat at school are the only guaranteed meals they’ll get each day.

Nutrition advocates and hunger relief organizations around the country are encouraging schools to incorporate breakfast into the school day and provide meals-on-the-go that make it as easy as possible for kids to eat.

One such organization is No Kid Hungry. In Illinois, they are playing a key role in feeding children throughout the state.

This statewide organization provides school districts with grant funding to buy equipment that will help them implement new and alternative breakfast programs. These improvements allow more kids to eat breakfast.

No Kid Hungry – Illinois hired school breakfast coordinators that work with agencies throughout the state. The coordinators help the schools apply and receive the available grant funding and work with school staff to implement a new breakfast program.

I am the school breakfast coordinator at the St. Louis Area Foodbank, and I work with the school districts in our 12 counties in Illinois.

Since I began my work, two school districts in our area have received grant funding and implemented new breakfast models. One recipient, the Brooklyn School District, is now at nearly 100 percent participation in school breakfast at their K-12 school.

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The other district, Granite City, received the grant funding for three of its schools and has seen participation more than double from less than 15 percent to approximately 40-45 percent of students participating in school breakfast. That number continues to grow.

Implementation of grants for three more school districts in the area – Roxana, Bethalto and East Alton- Wood River – will launch in late Spring and early Fall 2014. Similar increases in participation are expected in all three districts.

To help promote school breakfast participation and show the benefits associated with it, two school breakfast summits were recently held in the area. These summits brought together school leaders, community stakeholders, and experts on the topic of school nutrition to discuss what can be done to improve participation and create a more successful and healthy generation of students.

It is our goal to see student participation in school breakfast reach 70 percent in our 12 Illinois counties, the whole state of Illinois and eventually the entire United States.

To learn more about how you can get involved in the school breakfast movement in the state of Illinois, please contact school breakfast coordinator Kelly Hall at 314-292-5767 or khall@stlfoodbank.org.

By Kelly Hall, RD, LD

Registered Dietitian and IL School Breakfast Coordinator at the St. Louis Area Foodbank. 

Local Whole Foods Markets Help Feed 160,000 More

Before she took a job at Whole Foods Market in August 2012, Lisa Frumhoff struggled to make ends meet as a self-employed real estate agent.

In 2009, the Mizzou grad and University City native found herself in need of food assistance.

“Jewish Family & Children Services was there to help me through those times,” Frumhoff said. “The food pantry at JFCS was always packed back then with all kinds of people.  I was delighted to find out last week that the St. Louis Area Foodbank provides food to JFCS.”

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Now, in her role as a customer service team member and personal shopper at Whole Foods Market – Galleria in Brentwood, Frumhoff found herself in a position to help others in need.

During the Whole Foods Market’s “Feed 4 More” program, Frumhoff joined cashiers from across the Midwest in asking customers if they’d like to donate to local hunger relief efforts.

By the time Feed 4 More ended in December, Frumhoff had collected more donations from customers than any other cashier in the 45 stores in the Midwest Region.

She alone raised a whopping $7,003 for the St. Louis Area Foodbank!

The two local Whole Foods Market locations – Galleria and Town & Country – raised a total of $40,331.59 for the St. Louis Area Foodbank.

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Since the Foodbank can provide four meals with every dollar donated to the organization, the “Feed 4 More” program helped provide more than 160,000 meals for hungry families in our region.

The Midwest region overall raised an amazing $650,000 for hunger relief charities.

Frumhoff and Whole Foods Market representatives visited the St. Louis Area Foodbank on January 16. After their tour, Frumhoff said seeing the fruits of her labor was “truly one of my top five magical moments.”

“For the first time since our fundraising efforts, I truly got the impact of my efforts, the impact of our efforts, and all the generous customers,” Frumhoff said.

In November and December, Frumhoff and her counterparts across the region asked each customer if they’d like to donate to local hunger relief.

“I’d say ‘we’re raising money for the St. Louis food bank and every $5 feeds a family of four for the day,’” Frumhoff said.

Whole Foods Market reps say their customers were incredibly receptive.

“I feel blessed to have been in a position to make such a difference, just by asking people and giving them the choice,” Frumhoff said. “I asked at least 95% of the people who came through my line.”

Frumhoff says that the Feed 4 More program has made her realize the value of fundraising for a good cause.

“I’ve discovered my passion for fundraising and helping feed the hungry,” Frumhoff says.

She set a personal goal to raise $7,000. In the end, she surpassed her goal by $3.

“When I was fundraising for the last two months, I often shared my story of using the food pantries, myself,” Frumhoff said. “My desire to raise as much as possible came from a deep desire to have healthier food offered in food pantries. I know it costs more, because I spend any money I can, leftover from bills, to pay more for healthier food.”

Frumhoff has a bachelor’s degree in mathematics with a minor in computer science from the University of Missouri, Columbia. She says her education and career history make it easy for her to relate to the thousands of individuals who work hard, but still have trouble providing food for their families.

After touring the Foodbank and seeing firsthand the volume of food we distribute, Frumhoff said, “down to my bones, I’ve been profoundly moved, touched and inspired.”

Thanks to Frumhoff and all the team members at the Whole Foods Market – Galleria location, they raised the fourth most funds among all the participating stores in the Midwest region during the Feed 4 More campaign.

The St. Louis Area Foodbank is grateful to Frumhoff and all the staff and customers at both our local Whole Foods Markets for their dedication to hunger relief.


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By Bethany Prange

Communications Coordinator at the St. Louis Area Foodbank

 

Baby, It’s Cold Outside

In the last week, the bi-state region has experienced significant snowfall and sub-zero temperatures.

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Many roads were in bad shape, schools were cancelled and many businesses were forced to temporary close.

Hopefully your biggest frustration was kids with cabin fever that wanted to watch reruns of “Jake and the Neverland Pirates” on Disney Junior nonstop.

However, after working at the Foodbank for nearly five years, I know the reality for many area families is much more troubling.

According to the Hunger In America 2010, 58 percent of clients served by the St. Louis Area Foodbank reported having to choose between paying for food and paying for utilities or heating fuel. Think about that for a second. Think about how much you hated the thought of going outside for anything. Now try to imagine if your home/apartment felt the same way. No one should have to choose between paying for food and paying to keep the heat on.

As my friend Meredith once said, hunger is like a giant onion with many layers.  Two blogs that I read that I read this week really drove that point home.

One blog was on the No Kid Hungry site and talked about how for most kids snow days are something to get excited about. Snow days are perfect for sledding, building snowmen and as an added bonus, it means no homework.  However, as the blog points out, snow days are dreaded for kids that count on school breakfasts and lunches.  For some, that may be their only meal(s) for the day.  Check out the full blog here – https://www.nokidhungry.org/blog/school-meals/2013/12/snow-days.

The other blog was on Feeding America’s website and brought up that snow days can be a bad thing for adults as well. What if your work is cancelled and you have a hourly wage? What if your car won’t start and there is no way to get to your job?  You might be glad that you can finally binge watch Breaking Bad on Netflix instead of working on that report that your boss has been asking for since before Christmas, but if you actually need to be at your job to help feed your family, snow days can be your worst nightmare. Check out the full blog here – http://blog.feedingamerica.org/2014/01/the-bitter-cold.

I’m not saying that you shouldn’t head to Art Hill with your kids or clear out some shows from your DVR. Just remember, the next time your boss says, “don’t bother trying to get out in this stuff” or your child’s school scrolls across the bottom of the local news, there are people in your own backyard that wish that they weren’t stuck inside.

By Ryan Farmer

Communications Manager of the St. Louis Area Foodbank