Maddie Smith, Author at St. Louis Area Foodbank

Navigate / search

Upcoming SNAP Assistance Opportunities – Illinois

Need SNAP Application Assistance?

Our Illinois Agency Relations Coordinator, Melanie, will be available at several locations in throughout the month of July to assist with SNAP applications for Illinois residents. Melanie will be able to answer questions about SNAP, pre-screen applicants, and evaluate current SNAP benefits for those already receiving SNAP.

 

Dates and Times for SNAP Assistance:

Wednesday, 7/11/18 – 1pm-3pm

East St. Louis Township

6755 State St., East St. Louis, 62203

 

Saturday, 7/14/18 – 10am -1pm

Cahokia Community Day

2007 Camp Jackson Rd., Cahokia IL 62206

 

Friday, 7/20/18 – 3pm-7pm

Caseyville Community Center

909 S Main Street Caseyville, IL

 

Saturday, 7/21/18 – 10am-1pm

Hartford Assembly of God | Community Resource3 Fair

105 East Watkins, Hartford IL 62048

 

Tuesday, 7/24/18 – 9am-11am

Collinsville Food Pantry

201 E. Church St., Collinsville, 62234

 

Wednesday, 7/25/18 – 1pm-3pm

East St. Louis Township

6755 State St., East St. Louis, 62203

 

Thursday, 7/26/18 – Noon-2pm

City Temple Food Pantry

4751 Maryville Rd. Granite City, IL 62040

 

Friday, 7/27/18 – 9:30am-11:30am

Hope Food Pantry

9274 Coach Stop Road

 

Saturday, 7/28/18 – 10am – 1pm

Jackie Joyner Kersee Community Center

Argonne Drive, East St. Louis IL 62204

More About SNAP

When we hit tough times many of us are lucky enough to have parents, siblings, friends and neighbors who can help us through; and many of us have done that for others, giving of ourselves to help friends and neighbors in need.

For some, that support doesn’t always exist, so as a nation we have created a way to ensure no one in America has to be severely hungry and undernourished. Maybe you lost a job, got sick, or need to care for your family. Everybody needs a helping hand sometimes.

We all pay taxes and receive different types of benefits, like unemployment benefits, Social Security, or a mortgage interest deduction. Food stamps are one way to get supplemental money to buy food until you can get back on your feet.

Walmart and Tyson Foods Donates 10,000 Pounds!

Walmart and Tyson Foods teamed up to donate 10,000 pounds of food to the St. Louis Area Foodbank through a partnership with Feeding America® to help end hunger across the United States.

On Friday, March 16, the Foodbank received 10,000 pounds of protein to help feed more families.

“We know that we can’t win the fight against hunger alone. It takes partnerships and collaboration – all of us working together to ensure no one in our community goes hungry,” said Ryan Farmer, Director of Communications for the St. Louis Area Foodbank. “We are proud to be the only Feeding America food bank in the bi-state region and are so thankful for the backing we have received from Tyson Foods and Walmart. Both companies have been longtime supporters of our mission and this donation will allow us to help more local residents who are struggling to get the meals needed to live a healthy life.”

We’re grateful for wonderful partners who help us feed more people every day.

Ashley Goes to Washington, D.C.

The St. Louis Area Foodbank Sends Delegate to the National Anti-Hunger Policy Conference and Lobby Day

At the end of February, I took a trip to our nation’s capital to attend the National Anti-Hunger Policy Conference organized by the Food Research & Action Center and our national organization, Feeding America. During the conference, I connected with leaders in the anti-hunger movement, sharpened my advocacy skills, and took some time to think critically about the systemic conditions that lead some of our neighbors into poverty and food insecurity.

Here are a few highlights:

  • Language Matters. It’s easy to think about people facing food insecurity as “needy” or “people that we serve.” But the truth is, the families accessing our resources face huge challenges – racism, economic injustice, physical disabilities and health problems, unemployment, underemployment, limited educational opportunities, burdensome housing costs, and more – with resilience and creativity. As an anti-hunger organization, these individuals aren’t just clients. They’re experts with lived experiences, and their unique perspectives provide crucial insights that make fighting and eliminating hunger possible.
  • Constituents make the best Anti-Hunger Advocates. Studies show – not to mention my own experience with state or federal legislators – that lawmakers really do care about their constituents’ opinions, concerns, and suggestions. Many people believe that policy is controlled by lobbyists and special interests, and while they do play a part, lawmakers and their staff consistently report that constituent input heavily influences decision-making. What does that mean? Your voice and your political engagement matters. (Sign up for our emails below to receive action alerts and to learn more about your role in anti-hunger advocacy!)
  • Federal Nutrition Programs are at risk of cuts, but we CAN do something about it. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (or SNAP, formerly known as Food Stamps) has been the topic of considerable debate on Capitol Hill. From major cuts to substantial programmatic changes, policy proposals focused on SNAP and the other federal nutrition programs upon which millions of families rely threaten to weaken these programs’ effectiveness and leave many people in our country hungrier than ever. But when advocates come together to educate lawmakers and lobby for positive change, we make a real impact on the future of anti-hunger and anti-poverty legislation in this country.

And come together we did on Lobby Day- when anti-hunger advocates from around the country gathered on Capitol Hill to impress upon our lawmakers the value of nutrition programming. For my part, I had the privilege to meet with many of our members’ legislative staff to discuss the Foodbank’s work and the impact programs like SNAP make on the health and wellness of our region. I was even fortunate enough to meet with two members of the House Agriculture Committee, Representatives Rodney Davis and Mike Bost, to explain our priorities for the next Farm Bill.

Meeting with Congressman Rodney Davis.
Meeting with Congressman Rodney Davis.

All in all, Lobby Day took a lot of planning and an awful lot of walking, but it’s worth it. As I told our Members of Congress, for every meal a food bank in Feeding America’s national network provides, SNAP provides 12. Ultimately, we can’t fight hunger as effectively without the government’s help. That’s why these programs are so worth protecting and so worth fighting for. Ending hunger is possible if we work together and pool the resources and know-how of non-profits, businesses, government, and private individuals. This is why the St. Louis Area Foodbank advocates as part of its commitment to feed hungry people.

And we hope you’ll join us! If you would like to know more about our advocacy efforts and the part you can play, sign up for our advocacy and policy email updates. You’ll learn a lot and have the chance to make a difference.

Pantry Spotlight: Affton Christian Food Pantry

The Affton Christian Food Pantry (ACFP) values the connections they make with their community.

 

“Relationships with people in need are sometimes as important as, if not more than, the food we can give them,” says Dana George, Pantry Manager at ACFP. Serving 100 families every week in the Affton community is no small task, but the staff takes time to know the people they serve. “For instance, I know that Charlotte will be sitting in the chair in the hallway at a quarter ‘til 9 for her 9:30 appointment,” Jennifer Meehan, Executive Director, says as she reflects on the individuals who come through her doors. Recognition like this is important to people like Trisha.

When Trisha and her husband fell on hard times, experiencing a double job loss about a year after their first child was born, they knew they needed help. “A couple very close friends had suggested, while we were job searching, to contact a local food pantry, and I did. And we probably ended up shopping there for six months. That was the best decision I ever made,” Trisha says. The food staples and baby supplies were helpful, but beyond that, Trisha found reassurance in the pantry staff. Trisha remembers, “I met with the service employee, and I remember it was this older gentleman, and it was very difficult for me to say ‘I don’t know what to do. I need help, and we need food.’ He just took my hand and was like, ‘Everything’s gonna be fine. We are here to help you.’ And I’ve always remembered that experience at that pantry.”

Trisha’s experience is what the people at ACFP strive for. Volunteers receive careful training, groceries are carefully organized to make it easy for people in need to access, and everybody is treated with respect. In December, ACFP hosts a Christmas Boutique – an event where some of their patrons get the only gift they’ll receive this season. Tammy Kutrip, a volunteer who helps organize the Christmas Boutique, witnesses the difference this pantry makes for people in her community. “I almost cried the other day. A lady came in and handed me a thank you card and said, ‘I got a job, and this is my last visit here. Thank you so much for everything.’,” Tammy says of a recent encounter she had with a patron. The staff at ACFP have every right to feel good about the difference they make in people’s lives, but they remain humble and grateful for their partnership with the Foodbank and their ability to serve over 8,000 people every year. Dana George says, “We’re thankful for you all because you make what we do possible.”

 

Learn more about AFCP on their website at afftonchristianfoodpantry.com.

Frank’s Farewell Letter

Our President and CEO, Frank Finnegan, has written many letters for our newsletter. His most recent letter was written for our December newsletter, and he shared a pretty big announcement for the Foodbank community.

In the spring of 1980 I was interviewing for a position with a social service agency in Phoenix, Arizona, trying to convince the woman on the other side of the table that I was the best candidate.

I must have said something right because I got the job, but I don’t remember much about the actual interview other than being mesmerized by the woman sitting across the table.

Over the years I’ve used this space to write about the milestones of my life: my daughter growing up, my father playing baseball, and Sunday night family dinners. I’ve told stories of my annual visits to Kansas and of my wife’s grandparents who homesteaded a farm and lived through the dust bowl. I have enjoyed the great privilege of sharing my work and life with you, and now as I look forward to new and exciting chapters still ahead, I have just one final milestone to share with you here.

I have announced to the Foodbank’s Board of Directors that I am retiring, telling them that leading this organization has been one of the greatest honors of my life. I have been blessed in so many ways, among them spending my working years doing something I believe makes a real difference while working alongside talented people I respect and admire.

There are too many individuals to thank in this space, but I’d like to at least recognize some collectively: our staff members, already recognized by their leadership within the national food bank network for continually striving to improve; the Board of Directors for their guidance, counsel and commitment – being able to discuss the changing dynamics of the organization with the members of the Board all while learning from their experience and trusting in their support, is a gift I truly treasure; and of course, our volunteers and donors, the lifeblood that allows us to do the work that remains so important for people in need.

Last but never least, I want to thank the woman on the other side of table – my wife, Judy. She hired me in 1980, believed in me, and eventually agreed to travel through life by my side, making it richer and more fulfilling than I ever imagined that day so many years ago. As I have for the last 36 years, I’ll continue to share my story and my life with a woman I still find completely mesmerizing.

I’m also confident that the next person to lead the Foodbank will take the organization to heights I haven’t yet imagined.

As always, thanks for your support and trust.
– Frank

Feeding Hope in Williamson County

Last month, one of our Agency Relations Coordinators, Melanie Hager, was able to go above and beyond for a woman in need in Williamson County, Illinois. Below she shares her story.

I was at Williamson County Programs on Aging conducting a CSFP training/meeting with our contact, MaryJane Fuller. She had just met with a woman and was very shook up after their meeting.

Mrs. Fuller had explained to me that the woman and her husband, 64, were living off of less than $600 a month, that they received through her disability benefit. She is disabled due to working in construction her whole life. Her husband is also disabled but has been denied the disability benefit on multiple occasions. This couple is barely surviving, eating only three meals a week because all of their income was going toward their utility bills and medication.

When the woman returned to the office to turn in her paperwork I asked if she was able to sit down and talk with me, she agreed and I had her reiterate her story.

After she was finished, I began spouting off all of the different programs that she would be eligible for: Soup Kitchens, Pantries, SNAP, CSFP, LIHEAP Energy Assistance, Medical Assistance, Temporary Cash and Social Security.

She was overwhelmed with the amount of information we were able to supply her with. She was not aware of all of these services or that you can begin collecting social security at 62, they were under the impression that it was 65.

We were then able to sign her and her husband up for the CSFP Senior Box Program, as well as SNAP, LIHEAP Energy Assistance, Medical Assistance, Temporary Cash, Prescription Assistance, Referred to Pantries and Soup Kitchens and even getting the ball rolling on Social Security Benefits.

She was in tears and full of gratitude. She hugged us both continuously and was extremely grateful for all of the services that we were able to provide her with. As tears fell from all of our eyes she thanked us for everything we had done. She did not realize that these services were provided, especially in a rural community. It was a beautiful moment to share this information with her and to show her that the Foodbank isn’t just about food. Connecting people to resources can change lives.

Days like this truly help me appreciate my job!

Volunteer Spotlight: Joe Venable

Joe Venable has been coming to volunteer at the St. Louis Area Foodbank for 5 years.

He brings a group of 12 -15 volunteers from Scott Air Force Base with him, and they are very appreciated in our Volunteer Center.

“Whenever we see that Joe’s group is on the schedule, we know we’ve got to have a lot of work to do to keep them busy,” said Harry Steen, the Volunteer Center Manager at the Foodbank.

Saturday, October 7, was Joe’s last volunteer shift at the Foodbank because he’s moving to Colorado. Although we’re sad to see him go, we’re happy for this new opportunity in his life and the positive impact he’s had here at the Foodbank.

Joe first came to volunteer in 2012, and he resonated with the fact that veterans were included in the over 392,000 people the Foodbank serves each year. He loves to see younger generations getting involved in the Volunteer Center, and believes that instilling the habit of giving back early in kids is important.

“None of this would have been possible without the great men and women from Scott Air Force Base,” Joe said of his regular group of volunteers. Good luck with all you do, Joe! You will be missed!

Decatur’s Farm Bill Listening Session

This year the House Agriculture Committee has hosted Listening Sessions all across the country to hear from key stakeholders as they prepare to draft and pass a new Farm Bill in 2018.

The Farm Bill is a massive piece of legislation that establishes programs and appropriates funding for everything from agricultural research to crop insurance to federal nutrition programs like SNAP (formerly food stamps). St. Louis Area Foodbank Outreach Coordinator, Ashley Rube, traveled to Decatur, IL on August 30th to testify at one of these Listening Sessions and advocate for the programs that provide vital resources to the nation’s food insecure. Read her testimony below or watch the hearing in full (see Ashley at 1:58:45)!

 

My name is Ashley Rube. I work at the St. Louis Area Foodbank, which serves 26 counties across both Missouri and Illinois. We are a member food bank of Feeding America, and we are privileged to work with 500 local agencies across our service territory that put life-changing resources into the hands of our neighbors in need.

With their help, we distributed over 42 million pounds of food last year to 392,000 individuals including senior citizens, veterans, working parents, and, our single largest food insecure population, children.

And their need persists. During the Foodbank’s first year of operation in 1975, it distributed roughly 160,000 pounds of food. We now move that much food every day. We have grown over the past 42 years to better address the need in our communities, but with 1 in 6 people in our region facing hunger, we cannot meet the need that exists on our own.

My church in St. Louis operates a food pantry that partners with the Foodbank. During each Sunday service the prayer requests of the pantry guests are shared aloud. They pray for better health, for stable work, and for safer living situations for their families. They pray for our elected officials. And they offer thanksgiving for upcoming job interviews, hopeful medical diagnoses, and the generosity of neighbors.

The people we serve are struggling to put food on the table. And when their need is met at the pantry, they can focus on all of the other parts of life we all need to thrive – from steady employment to healthy lifestyles, and even civic engagement..

Those of us here today – from farmers to food bankers and members of the Agriculture Committee – we know that food is where it all starts. Meeting this most basic need makes so much more possible

Food makes the difference. And thanks to the partnership of the federal government, those of us at the Foodbank make a bigger difference in our region. Nearly 20% of the foods we distribute are provided through The Emergency Food Assistance Program. All told, federal nutrition programs provide over a quarter of all the food we send out of our warehouse, and these foods are among the most nutritious we offer.

The nutrition programs contained in the Farm Bill – from TEFAP to SNAP – are vital in every sense of the word. They mean food on people’s tables, which means fuel for good work and healthier lives.

Despite our growth as a food bank, there is still need in Missouri and Illinois we cannot meet. But together – with a strong Farm Bill, fully funded nutrition programs, and conscientious policies – we can.

I ask, on behalf of my colleagues at the St. Louis Area Foodbank, our community partners, and the families we serve, to please thoughtfully consider how this Farm Bill can preserve and bolster our nation’s commitment to eliminating hunger. We thank you for your partnership and remain eager to collaborate with you for the good of all our communities.

Dustin’s Story

As a lifelong sports fan, Dustin knows hard work and practice make perfect.

That’s why he maintains a blog where he can sharpen his writing skills and work towards his dream job in sports broadcasting. A former football player and now a coach to his community’s high school football team, Dustin has plenty to write about. And when he isn’t writing or coaching, he is pursuing his substitute teaching certification.

Dustin’s perseverance has paid off, but that hasn’t made the journey easy. In December of 2008, Dustin was involved in a car accident that would affect his mobility and plans long term. He had to put the completion of his sports communication degree on hold for nearly three years in order to focus on his recovery and to rethink his future.

Almost ten years later, Dustin is taking all he’s learned and dreaming bigger than ever. And Dustin will be the first to tell you he hasn’t made it this far on his own.

In 2015 he visited the Highland Area Christian Service Ministry for the first time to receive some assistance collecting his social security income. While there, Dustin learned about the ministry’s food pantry. Dustin has since visited the food pantry one to two times each month to collect the healthy foods that sustain his active life. “I eat a lot of peanut butter. Probably more than most people you know. I get my peanut butter from [the food pantry] – it’s a good source of protein.”

HACSM also helped Dustin apply for a Link Card (food stamps) so he can round out his diet with nutritious purchases from the grocery store. Some foods, like Activia yogurt, are critical for Dustin’s health and rehabilitation, so he’s grateful for the opportunity to choose what he needs when he needs it.

As busy as he is, Dustin always makes time for family. “I’ve been trying to make it a point to get to a family or friend’s house for dinner, and there’s usually kids there, and I stay on top of them about making a happy plate and telling them ‘Brushing your teeth may not sound important, but it will pay off if you do it in the long run’”

Dustin explains that a “happy plate” is what you have when you finish your meal. Happily, Dustin has a lot on his plate, from a burgeoning career to an active social life. Thanks to the staff and volunteers at the Highland Area Christian Service Ministry food pantry, Dustin has a lot on his dinner plate, too. “People never know when they’re going to need something like this. It is unbelievable how many different lives and families that I see the Highland Food [Pantry] impact positively!”

Political, not Partisan: Signing on with other Nonprofits to Stay Accountable

We’ve signed another letter to lawmakers, but not one about safety-net programs. Let’s talk about why.

Political action – what we describe at the St. Louis Area Foodbank as “advocacy” – is a critical part of what we do. We work hard to address hungry people’s immediate needs and to work towards eliminating hunger in our community, and we cannot do that without being politically engaged. After all, how can we work towards a hunger-free future if we don’t work with our leaders and try to inform the laws that shape that future?  And so we support the policies that strengthen hunger-relief programs and oppose those that threaten them.

So we are political. We work with the public, other nonprofits, and the government; it’s unavoidable.

But being politically active and being politically partisan is not the same thing.

As a nonprofit organization we are firmly nonpartisan, and this makes sense because hunger is a nonpartisan issue. Viable solutions demand everybody’s participation and cooperation, and we want to remain a safe and trustworthy place for the public that supports us, the volunteers that visit us, and the agencies that work alongside us.

But in February during the National Prayer Breakfast, the president promised to undo the Johnson Amendment, a section of tax law that ensures nonprofits steer clear of partisan politics. In fact, several bills have already been introduced in Congress this year that would nearly or completely do just that.

This provision requires that organizations with tax-exempt status – charitable nonprofits, foundations, and religious organizations – “not participate in, or intervene in (including the publishing or distributing of statements), any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for public office.”

In other words, as the law now stands, our work and funding must remain focused on feeding hungry people, not on the success or failure of any politicians. Our ability to pursue political action is limited and clearly defined, ensuring that the public support we receive is being spent on our mission and not on partisan politics. If the law changes, however, we could be targeted by political campaigns for support or donations. And worse, we could lose the public’s trust – trust we need to keep our shelves stocked and our neighbors’ bellies full.

And that’s why we joined nonprofit organizations across the nation and signed a letter initiated by the National Council of Nonprofits urging our lawmakers to protect the laws that protect nonprofits and hold us accountable.

Hunger, after all, is everybody’s problem. Why drag it into the political mire and dilute critical hunger-relief work with partisanship?

Read more about the Johnson Amendment, the proposed bills, and the letter we’ve signed here. And stay connected with us for updates about our political – not partisan – actions.