Michelle Knight, Author at St. Louis Area Foodbank

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Call Congress About Child Nutrition

On September 30, the child nutrition bill will expire, and we need your help to convince Congress to get to work and make passing a strong child nutrition bill that invests in our nation’s children a priority.

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Help us spur Congress to action and strengthen child nutrition programs by calling today and spreading the word through social media.

 Calling Congress is easy. Here’s how:

  1. Dial our toll free number, (888) 398-8702, listen to the pre-recorded message and enter your zip code when prompted.
  2. Once you are connected to your House member, state that you are a constituent, and give your name and the town you are calling from.
  3. Let them know you are calling about Child Nutrition Reauthorization and deliver this important message:
    As your constituent and supporter of the St. Louis Area Foodbank, I’m calling you today about the Child Nutrition Reauthorization. Too many kids in our community are not getting the food they need, particularly during the summer months when school is out.

    As my Member of Congress, you can do something about it. 
    I urge you to pass a strong child nutrition bill that provides more options to get food to kids that need our help by providing flexibility in operating the Summer Food Service Program and streamlining program requirements for providers that operate both afterschool and summer meal programs.
  4.  Be sure to dial back in and speak with both of your senators and your representative.

Double your impact by sending an email

Older Americans Act

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1 in 12 Seniors is Going Hungry

Often times when we think of the face of hunger we think of the nearly 16 million children that live in food insecure households – we don’t often think of the elderly. The truth is that more than 5.3 million senior citizens are affected by hunger, that is 1 in 12.

With the number of older adults projected to increase by 35 percent over the next decade, nutrition programs targeted at seniors will be critical to safeguarding the health of this vulnerable population. Many of these older americans have worked their entire lives to provide for their families, are retired, volunteer their time and never expected that at this stage of their lives they would be unsure of where their next meal is coming from.

Older Americans don’t often ask for help.

At the St. Louis Area Foodbank we see this first hand. We receive phone calls, when they have nowhere else to turn, regarding signing up for SNAP benefits. And that is only a handful; many households may not even realize they qualify for benefits. At local food fairs we meet older american volunteers who assist us for hours loading pounds of food into hundreds of cars only to end their day driving through the same line to stock their own cupboards.

The sad truth is that in our 26-county service territory, of Missouri and Illinois, 14% of the people we serve are age 60 or older. Many of these individuals, at this stage of their life, are having to choose between paying for food or buying essential medicines. In fact, 71% of the people we serve have had to make that choice in the last year.

We must urge our members of Congress to reauthorize the Older Americans Act (OAA) as it celebrates it’s 50th year.

The Older Americans Act funds critical services that keep older adults healthy and independent, and provide needed support for seniors facing food insecurity.

Join us in urging Congress to reauthorize the Older Americans Act

Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP)

A program implemented by the St. Louis Area Foodbank, is a commodity-based program, providing nutritionally-balanced, shelf-stable food packages to 8,800 in seven counties in Missouri and two in Illinois. Last year the St. Louis Area Foodbank distributed over 103,300 CSFP boxes to low-income seniors.

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CSFP is the only USDA nutrition program that provides monthly food assistance specially targeted at low-income seniors. CSFP must be funded each year through the annual federal appropriations process and can only serve as many eligible people as funding allows. As a result, CSFP only operates in 46 states and is unable to serve all eligible seniors in these states.Congress has a duty to provide adequate funding to expand CSFP nationwide to serve all eligible seniors.

Join us in urging Congress to reauthorize the Older Americans Act

Share Your Story – The Checkout Line

Since becoming involved with the St. Louis Area Foodbank and their Young Professionals Board, I’ve become more sensitive to hunger issues in the region and the administration of assistance to families in need. Yesterday, I was in the check-out line at a local grocery store. While in line, I noticed a lady in front of me with a cart full of food. She had on a uniform, so I assumed she stopped at the grocery store on her way home from work. She held a blue card in her hand and I slyly attempted to see if she had a blue US Bank card like mine or an EBT Card.

Why? Just being nosy.

I felt guilty as she noticed me looking at her card and she moved it to her other hand, as if she was embarrassed that someone noticed she was receiving federal assistance so that she could feed her family. I diverted my attention by checking Facebook on my phone to pass the time, but I couldn’t help but think of a news article that I’d recently seen. A member of the Missouri Legislature wants to pass a bill that prohibits families receiving SNAP benefits from purchasing cookies, steak, seafood, energy drinks, sodas, and chips. So, I decided to be nosy again and check out her cart.

From what I could see, her cart contained family size portions of ground beef (it’s usually cheaper to buy the larger portions and then separate before freezing), some fresh fruits and vegetables, canned vegetables, milk, juice, pasta, a few pizzas, frozen meals and other food. She also had non-food items, but necessary items, such as toilet paper, which cannot be purchased with SNAP benefits.

I looked at my cart. I had cookies, chips, and soda.

After a few minutes, I looked up again. The woman was studying the screen to see the total price for her items add up. She looked worried as the cashier neared the end of the food on the belt. The cashier whispered something to her, and as he scanned the last item, he looked at her and nodded. A look of relief came over her face and she swiped two cards: one for personal items, and the EBT card for food items.

I was judgmental.

Shame on me.

I embarrassed her by purposefully “investigating” her payment method, and examined her personal choice of what she fed her family, while I was planning on putting junk food in my own body. I’m no better of a person than she is. She shouldn’t feel judged or ashamed because she needs help. She was making smart choices for her family, and everyone, despite economic status, should have the freedom to make choices for their families.

Jennifer Haynes
St. Louis Area Foodbank Young Professionals Board Chair

Call Congress Today!

Help us generate phone calls to the House and Senate with a clear message- protect the programs that help us fight hunger!

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This week, the House and Senate are expected to vote on budget resolutions that would attempt to balance the budget in 10 years.

While these resolutions are non-binding, we are concerned that they will be used to draft legislation that would balance the budget on the backs of low-income Americans by cutting the hunger-relief programs that advance our mission.

We believe it is necessary to send a strong message early in this process and let them know that cutting programs that our families rely on is the wrong way to balance the budget.  Read more

National Nutrition Month

The St. Louis Area Foodbank is fortunate to have Kelly Hall, a registered dietitian, on staff. For National Nutrition Month, Kelly shares how the Foodbank is improving nutrition for the families that we serve.

Foods to Encourage

In 2013, the St. Louis Area Foodbank adopted a model designed to increase the amount of nutritious food we provide to our clients. The Foods to Encourage model has a goal that 66% of the food brought into the Foodbank is fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean protein and low/non-fat dairy. We recognize that hunger is a health issue and we want our clients to have nutritious foods available to them in order to fight against diseases like diabetes and heart disease.

Read more

House Passes H.R. 644

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On Thursday, February 12, 2015, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 644, the America Gives More Act of 2015, by a vote of 279-137​.

The legislation expands and makes permanent three expired charitable tax incentives, including the food donation tax deduction. H.R. 644 was introduced February 2 by Representative Tom Reed (R-NY).​

We will be watching this bill closely as it moves from the House to the Senate. We hope that as H.R. 644 moves forward in the Senate that both Republicans and Democrats can come together in support of the legislation.

This is an important legislative priority for the St. Louis Area Foodbank and food banks across the country. We know that all of your calls and emails to your Members of Congress contributed to it’s success thus far.

Stay up to date on important legislative issues and future action alerts.

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St. Louis Comedians
Come Together to Fight Hunger

We are excited to announce that two more St. Louisians have joined the line up for Hunger Is No Laughing Matter!

Headliner: The Sklar Brothers

Follow on Twitter @SklarBrothers

Sklar Brothers

Randy and Jason Sklar began as one zygote and later guest starred in many TV shows, including an Emmy Award winning episode of HBO’s Curb Your Enthusiasm, the FX hit “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, as well as Adult Swim’s Childrens’ Hospital. They starred as conjoined twins in a memorable episode of Grey’s Anatomy and as warring agents on HBO’s Entourage. Of the Entourage episode, Entertainment Weekly television critic Paul Katz wrote of their turn, “in the hands of comedic masters, The Sklar Brothers, they made it soar.” They’ve also appeared in such films as Touchstone’s, Wild Hogs, and Fox Atomic’s, The Comebacks.

They currently host the critically acclaimed History Channel docu-comedy that highlights the ways in which statistics tell the story of America called The United Stats of America.  Read more

Good Donation Mileage

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During November, over 30 Valvoline Instant Oil Change locations asked their customers at the register if they’d like to make a donation to the St. Louis Area Foodbank.

Here’s why we chose to work with the Foodbank:

Good Donation Mileage: Like a car getting good gas mileage per gallon, we knew donating to the Foodbank was a great way to stretch a donation. For every $5 donated, we could help provide 20 meals!

Local: We have locations all over the bi-state area – from O’Fallon, MO to O’Fallon, IL. All of our store managers wanted to work on a campaign that benefitted their own community. The Foodbank serves 14 counties in Missouri and 12 counties in Illinois. Where we are, they are. I think this type of partnership would make sense for any business with multiple locations in the greater St. Louis area.

A friendly (and sometimes heated) competition between the stores helped push everyone to be the best fundraisers they could be. Each day, we looked at how much each store raised and divided that number by how many cars were serviced. This was a fair way for every store to compete with one another.

Of the approximately 850 locations across the entire country, the location that raised the most money was based in St. Louis! On top of that, our region as a whole raised more money ($25,237) than any other region in the country!

Our employees had fun working on this campaign, and our customers liked it too. Most importantly, we were able to make sure local families have a hot meal during the coldest time of time.

Written by Kathy Beers, Market Manager, VIOC

Agency Spotlight: Lutheran Child and Family Services of Illinois at Hardin


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Like so many of our partner agencies, Lutheran Child and Family Services of Illinois at Hardin traces its roots back to one determined individual who saw a problem and took it upon herself to find a solution.

More than 60 years ago, Elsie Dixon began a local food pantry out of the back of her truck that evolved into the agency that today feeds and provides clothes for 100 to 125 families every week.

The Hardin agency serves all of Calhoun County, Ill., a mostly rural area where farming is the predominant form of employment. The clients served represent a mix of ages, but skews toward senior households rather than young families.

Lutheran Child and Family Services of Illinois at Hardin operates a food pantry that clients can visit once per week. In addition to food, the agency provides clothing and shoes for clients. They also host a community Thanksgiving dinner for individuals without nearby relatives. Closer to Christmas, they sponsor an angel tree program for kids in conjunction with two local banks, several schools and local churches. Homebound clients receive food through the agency’s “Neighbor to Neighbor” program, with neighbors or a relative serving as a proxy to take food to people unable to get to the pantry site.

Food is distributed each Wednesday and Thursday. Most of the pantry volunteers are in their late 70s or early 80s.

“I guess the biggest change I’ve seen in the past six months to a year is the return of past clients who had become self-sufficient but now find themselves needing help again,” says Manager Vera Droege. “As we head into the winter months, folks are going to be struggling to stretch their budget to cover heating costs.”

“We really depend on the St. Louis Area Foodbank to keep our doors open,” notes Droege. “We would be hardpressed to provide people with nutritious meals without this important resource. It is our primary source of food. We are so grateful to the many donors who support the Foodbank, which then supports our pantry.”

Lutheran Child and Family Services of Illinois at Hardin
208A S. County Rd., Hardin, IL 62047

This article was featured in the December 2014 Newsletter.