On February 7, 2014, the St. Louis Business Journal released their list of the largest nonprofits in the area. The St. Louis Area Foodbank was proud to crack the top 10 based on fiscal year 2013 operating budget, coming in at number 8 overall.
Independent auditors assign a value of $1.69 per pound on the food that comes in and goes out of our warehouse in Bridgeton, along with our cash operating budget. As our distribution totals increase (nearly 35 million pounds distributed in FY2013), so does our operating budget.
In addition to our ranking on the list, reporter Nicholas Ledden from the Business Journal also went back and took a look at this list from five years ago. He calculated which organizations showed the greatest percentage increase in operating budget over that time (fiscal 2008 to fiscal 2013). The St. Louis Area Foodbank tops that list with a 138.02% increase ($27,907,780 in 2008 to $66,427,014 for 2013).
An abbreviated interview with St. Louis Area Foodbank President and CEO, Frank Finnegan, accompanied the list in the printed version of the paper. The full interview is below:
So your operating budget has seen some significant growth over the last five years. To what do you attribute the increase?
We asked the community to support our capital campaign when we moved into our current facility in Bridgeton in 2006. We stated then that the additional space would allow us to significantly increase food distribution to hungry families in our community. The year before we launched the capital campaign, we distributed 12 million pounds of food and personal care items. Over the last five years we’ve made good on our original promise, going from 20 million pounds in fiscal year 2009 to nearly 35 million pounds in fiscal year 2013. Auditors assign a value to the food and personal care items we distribute, so as the amount of pounds we distribute increases, so does our operating budget. We have also invested heavily in infrastructure updates that have significantly improved the efficiency of our operation. Our distribution models have evolved as well, so much so that now more than 50 percent of the product we distribute is delivered directly to our partner agencies. As a result, we have tripled the number of trucks we have on the road.
Do you have expansion plans for 2014?
Although we’re on pace to increase distribution by six percent this year, our primary focus has shifted to the nutritional value of the product. We plan to improve the nutritional component of our distribution by increasing the availability of fresh fruits and vegetables.
How would you rate the organization’s fiscal 2013? Highlights?
We had the single largest year-over-year distribution increase in our history – 26 percent. However, as proud as we are of that accomplishment, we are just as pleased that we also achieved our goal of establishing an operating reserve that will help sustain the Foodbank’s long-term viability. Volunteers are vital to our operation. In 2013, we saw a record number of volunteers come through our doors to help us repackage the food we distribute. To accommodate that growth, we added an additional parking lot at our facility.
What have you identified as the organization’s single greatest opportunity for continued growth?
Since the food industry donates excess product, donations to the Foodbank follow food industry trends. Manufacturers and producers have made significant progress in eliminating mistakes, so donations are trending more in the area of fresh fruits and vegetables. That’s a happy coincidence for the Foodbank as fresh produce is exactly what is needed to improve the diets of the people we’re serving.
What is the organization’s impact on the community? Has that impact grown over the last five years as well?
We are the primary food source for the majority of our 512 partner agencies, which include food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters and other nonprofits who feed those in need throughout our 26-county service territory in Missouri and Illinois. Demand for food assistance has grown due to the economic downturn and the evolution of the workforce from good-paying blue-collar jobs to lower-paying and part-time jobs in the service sector. For the first time, working age people now make up the majority of U.S. households that rely on food stamps, primarily as a result of a slow economic recovery, high unemployment and stagnant wages. Unfortunately, as the number of families in need continues to rise, our impact becomes even greater.
Biggest challenge going into 2014?
Our biggest challenge is to improve on the already impressive growth and progress achieved last year. Hunger is an ongoing problem, and it doesn’t discriminate. It affects young and old, all races and religions; it’s prevalent in our cities as well as rural counties. Our biggest challenge is to convince people hunger only exists because we allow it. We don’t lack for food in this country; we lack the political will to simply end it.
Access to the online version of the list and the interview with Frank Finnegan require a subscription to the St. Louis Business Journal.
Like many holidays, Valentine’s Day changes meaning as we age.
In grade school, you probably exchanged candy with classmates. Maybe those little chalky hearts that say “Be Mine.”
Teachers probably encouraged you to design and color a card for your parents or grandparents.
Later in adolescence, you may have begun to question the validity of the holiday. Perhaps you even protested against celebrating it.
This rite of passage usually ends with a return to celebrating the holiday, particularly by the time you’re old enough to have a boyfriend or girlfriend.
The longevity of the holiday can be verified by the Greeting Card Association, who claims that 145 million greeting cards are bought for Valentine’s Day each year in the United States.
That means two cards are given to every five people in the United States!
No matter what your age, Valentine’s Day is about showing your love for someone else. Maybe you show your love with greeting cards, candies, flowers or dinners. Or maybe you even offer a “free” gesture of love like doing the dishes or giving a foot rub.
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.
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 email@example.com.
By Kelly Hall, RD, LD
Registered Dietitian and IL School Breakfast Coordinator at the St. Louis Area Foodbank.
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.”
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.
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.
By Bethany Prange
Communications Coordinator at the St. Louis Area Foodbank
In the last week, the bi-state region has experienced significant snowfall and sub-zero temperatures.
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
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!