In honor of National Nutrition Month, it is important to take a look at the efforts being made to provide healthy food options to the millions of people in need of food assistance in our country.
With an ever-growing push toward eating healthy and staying fit, food banks like the St. Louis Area Foodbank are trying to do their part to provide clients with healthier foods. We also strive to give families in need nutrition education to help them make healthy choices on their own.
We distribute millions of pounds of food to those in need, and we want to make sure that food not only fills the clients’ stomachs, but also helps them provide a healthier future for their families.
Typically seen as a large warehouse that distributes shelf-stable food, the Foodbank is evolving. We are working hard to provide more fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy and lean meats.
One of our overall goals is to better meet the nutritional needs of those we serve. Diets rich in these foods will help reduce the risk of obesity, heart disease and diabetes – three conditions that are prevalent in today’s society, particularly for the poor.
The St. Louis Area Foodbank is also focusing on programs and services that will help communities gain additional access to healthy food. We also share opportunities for families to learn the benefits of health eating.
We help families in need apply for food stamps, and provide senior citizens with a supplemental box of food every month. These are just two ways we are offering struggling families in our area better access to healthy, nourishing food choices.
Our food fairs and mobile markets deliver fresh produce, bakery goods and dairy products to pantries all around the St. Louis region. We also provide our clients with a wide variety of resources to make healthy living a possibility for those struggling to make ends meet.
One of the best resources to help food banks and health professionals bridge the gap between hunger relief and good nutrition is the Healthy Food Bank Hub.
The Hub is designed to provide healthy food resources to food banks across the country. The tool includes information on healthy food distribution, recipes, educational materials and much more.
For those that look to the St. Louis Area Foodbank, food pantries and soup kitchens for their next meal, eating healthy is not something they can do on their own.
The St. Louis Area Foodbank is making strides to provide healthy food and nutrition education, making the idea of healthier, well-fed communities isn’t too far away.
Each of us can do our part to make healthier food options available to all of us. Contact the St. Louis Area Foodbank and see what you can do to help, whether it is volunteering at a distribution center or simply inquiring about efforts in your community to help create awareness about nutrition.
Together we can work towards a healthier, more nutritious future.
By Kelly Hall, RD, LD
IL School Breakfast Coordinator at the St. Louis Area Foodbank and registered dietitian.
Here are just a few more places where you can lend a hand:
Agency Name: Good Samaritan Ministries in Carbondale
Volunteers needed: To help hand out food to families in need. Dates/times: 8 a.m. Dec. 20, 2013
8 a.m. Dec. 23, 2013 Address:
Good Samaritan Ministries Food Pantry
University Baptist Church
700 S Oakland
Carbondale, IL 62901
They’re a time of gift-giving, parties and jubilant celebration.
Sadly, the winter holidays are also a time of elevated stress and budget-blowing overspending.
Even those who aren’t struggling financially may find it hard to come up with the extra money for holiday gifts, décor and food.
Here at the St. Louis Area Foodbank, we know just how hard it is for many of our clients to provide their loved ones with all the traditions of the holidays.
So, we’ve created a Pinterest board specifically dedicated to celebrating holidays on a budget. We’ve got:
• Inexpensive ideas for decorating, like bringing the outdoors inside or using wrapped gifts as décor.
• DIY tips for making homemade gifts, such as making ornaments with your child’s handprint or creating gift baskets!
• Ideas for fun and cheap holiday activities to do with the kids, like making cotton ball snowmen or reindeer cookies.
• Budget recipes for holiday meals, featuring shopping lists and cool ideas for cutting costs. (We have a whole board dedicated just to budget recipes!)
Yesterday was the second annual #GivingTuesday, and you all made us proud.
St. Louisans rallied around our social media efforts yesterday and made @STLFoodbank the number two Twitter trend in our region!
Plus, the number of online gifts we received through our website yesterday more than doubled the number we received last year on #GivingTuesday!
Even better, the online funds donated yesterday through www.stlfoodbank.org was more than the amount of gifts we received in the previous four years combined on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving!
On our website alone, we received $5,020 in donations! That’s almost twice as much as last year! We’re grateful to Gamlin Whiskey House and Sub Zero Vodka Bar for offering up dinner for four people at their restaurants for anyone that made an online donation through our #GivingTuesday webpage.
Yesterday, 38 folks became first-time donors through the Foodbank website. That is very exciting!
Thanks to Chris Sommers, co-founder of Pi Pizzeria and Givver, for coming up with a terrific idea for fundraising on #GivingTuesday.
Every donor who made a #GivingTuesday donation of $10 or more to the Foodbank through Givver received a free Pi pizza!
Thanks to Pi, Chris, the Foodbank Social Media Avengers, and everyone who donated, tweeted and spread the word! And thanks to Cindy Levin for posting an #unselfie – a good deed version of the popular #selfie – of her acts of generosity on #GivingTuesday!
Thanks to your hard work – and the overwhelming generosity of St. Louis city and county residents – we brought in a HUGE amount of food in the 2013 Scouting for Food drive!
So far, the St. Louis Area Foodbank has collected 688,126 pounds of food since the scouts starting pick up food on Nov. 16, 2013. That’s a whopping 55,111 more pounds than last year, and we’re still counting! Additional donations will be either picked up and/or delivered over the next week or two, so our grand total will be even higher!
Across the bi-state region, the results were just as astounding! According to the Post-Dispatch, “more than 2.1 million food items were collected by participants in the annual Scouting for Food drive in the St. Louis area and parts of southern Illinois and southeast Missouri.”
“It was the most collected since 2008, when 2.2 million items were gathered, said Christine Dieckmann, a spokeswoman for the Boy Scouts of America’s Greater St. Louis Area Council.”