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Hunger is No Laughing Matter 2013

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A re-enactment of a scene from the movie “The Fugitive” and chocolate covered pretzels were just some of the highlights from this year’s “Hunger Is No Laughing Matter” comedy show, presented by Sun Life Financial.

This past Saturday, nearly 1,000 people filed into the Pageant in University City for the second annual event that helps raise awareness and funds for the St. Louis Area Foodbank.

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Comedian John Mulaney headlined and brought an hour-long set of brand new material. As he usually is, Mulaney was smart, cutting, and a fantastic storyteller. Since moving from his hometown of Chicago, he has had no shortage of interesting encounters in New York City. He recounted a few of those interactions, mixed in some anecdotes about family road trips, his mother’s famous college classmate (Bill Clinton) and at one point re-enacted a scene from “The Fugitive,” which had numerous scenes filmed in his hometown’s own Palmer House Hilton.

One of the night’s most memorable moments came when Mulaney seemed to veer from his routine to take note of a Foodbank poster on the stage that featured a picture of young boy with a mouth full of spaghetti, remarking how the boy looked surprised to have his picture taken. He proceeded to make a few more jokes from there. I’ve walked by that poster numerous times in our hallways here at the Foodbank and I don’t I’ll ever look at the picture the same way again.

He actually started his set by taking a few light-hearted jabs at me for coming up right before him and promising the crowd chocolate covered pretzels from Mom’s Originals at the end of the night and letting everyone know that if they made a $10 donation through Givver.com, they could get a free pizza from Pi Pizzeria. “Why would anyone want to stay to listen to my jokes when Ryan has promised you all free chocolate covered pretzels and discounted pizza? Now everyone’s just waiting for me to get off the stage,” he remarked.

Throughout the night Mulaney interacted with some audience members, including a couple in the front row that he couldn’t believe had been married for 19 years. He seemed genuinely shocked and asked them what there was to do in St. Louis since his flight left at 3am and he was planning on staying up until it was time to head to Lambert. His request for suggestions elicited an all-too-familiar St. Louis response of, “go to the East Side.” John remarked that the gentleman who shouted that out seemed a little too anxious to make the remark and that the crowd member might be trying to get him killed.

Great comedians make it look effortless and that’s exactly what John did from the moment he stepped on-stage. I know everyone at the Foodbank was thankful that he was a part of the evening.

Carmen Lynch, who was hand-picked by Mulaney, was a great addition to the line-up and St. Louisan Dan Chopin kept things flowing as the evening’s emcee, which included a 15-minute set to kick things off.

The goal of the evening was to provide an affordable night out that, where attendees could learn a little more about the Foodbank and have a good time while they were doing it. I think you would be hard pressed to find someone that was in attendance on Saturday that would say it accomplished anything other than that. Thank you to everyone that came out and helped make it a success.

By Ryan Farmer

Communications manager at the St. Louis Area Foodbank.

Office FUNdraising Party | Part Two

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On July 19, Missouri Employers Mutual (MEM) again chose the St. Louis Area Foodbank to benefit from their annual workplace fundraiser. The theme this year was “Christmas in July” and the office planning committee really went the extra mile with decorations and other finishing touches.

They served a classic holiday turkey dinner with all the trimmings. They even had pumpkin pie. This all went down on a day when the heat index in St. Louis was 100 degrees!

Since this year’s event also included a food drive, I was joined by Product Donations Coordinator Casey Milton. We were given an opportunity to outline how the Foodbank feeds hungry people in our community and how their support helps us provide more meals for our neighbors in need.

To raise cash donations, employees solicited prizes from MEM clients and other area businesses. Those prizes were raffled off. The most coveted items included four iPads and a stocked wine refrigerator. Employees could also purchase bingo cards, because who doesn’t love a game of bingo?

Finally, they held an ugly Christmas sweater contest. It takes a really competitive spirit to wear a sweater in 100 degree weather, but the winner of the contest was up to the challenge. She was rewarded with a $100 gift card!

Proceeds from all activities will be donated to the Foodbank.

Everyone had a great time. The real difficulty was returning to work after the turkey tryptophan began to kick in!

By Jane Corpora

Grantwriter at the St. Louis Area Foodbank

Office FUNdraising Party | Part One

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Niki Baker is the VP of business development at Rabo AgriFinance, an agricultural lending company located in St. Louis County. She helped organize a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) event at their office on July 12.

Around 2:00 p.m., the office began flocking to the CSR Fair. The event was an opportunity for co-workers to socialize and give back to the community. Each department created a themed raffle item for the event.

There was also a $5 entry fee to get into the CSR Fair. Rabo AgriFinance matched (dollar for dollar) all donations received from employees. Funds raised benefited the St. Louis Area Foodbank and St. Patrick Center.

Furthermore, Niki invited me to speak at the CSR Fair about our work in the community. At the podium, I closed by praising their event. It was well-planned, well-executed and mutually beneficial for both organizations.

A couple weeks later, I returned to Rabo AgriFinance to receive a check from CEO Neil Dobbin and the staff for $4,000!

The CSR Fair and the check presentation were both on Friday afternoons. The events provided a great way to start the weekend, both for the employees of Rabo AgriFinance and those served by the St. Louis Area Foodbank!

By Patrick Delhougne

Development associate at the St. Louis Area Foodbank.

S.N.A.P. POP QUIZ

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How much do you know about S.N.A.P?

In July, the House of Representatives passed a Farm Bill that removed all funding for S.N.A.P. benefits (formerly known as food stamps). It was the first time food stamps had not been a part of the farm bill since 1973.

The Farm Bill has been a bipartisan bill that acted as safety-net, not only for farmers but also for low-income Americans for decades. Now, the future of the Farm Bill is clear and we don’t know what will happen next.

What we do know is that a lot of people are confused about S.N.A.P. and what it means to some of America’s most vulnerable people.

How much do you know about S.N.A.P.?

Test your knowledge with Feeding America’s SNAP Quiz.

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.

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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

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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

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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

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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/