As I woke up on Saturday, April 27, 2013, the first thing I did was check outside to see what Mother Nature had given us to work with…
If you remember last Saturday, you’ll understand why I was a little saddened by the gloomy rain.
But then I remembered that the biker community is all about helping children and our veterans. I knew right away that even rainy weather wouldn’t stop the 2nd Annual Bikers for Backs from being a day of sharing and giving back.
I felt moved and blessed as I watched people ride through the rainy parking lot at Shirley’s that morning. While all but one person – John Snyder – left their bikes at home and chose to drive cars due to the rain, each person still carried a colorful backpack filled with kid-friendly food.
At our first stop alone, we collected roughly 50 backpacks and other bags of food. We also sold about 25 t-shirts before we headed out for our next stop.
When we arrived at our second stop, I began laying out the Bikers for Backpacks t-shirts. One gentleman in a Marines Corps vest stopped by the table and said he couldn’t buy a shirt because it wasn’t made by a union worker.
A good friend of mine and ex-Marine, Kel Jensen, overheard the exchange. She walked right over, bought the man a shirt and took it to his table.
Kel explained that the $15 dollar shirt paid for 60 meals for hungry kids. She then pointed over to two tables filled with bikers and said, “‘they are also Teamsters so take your shirt off and put this on!’”
Thanks to Kel, the man walked around the whole time we were there wearing the Bikers for Backpacks shirt!
We shared our third stop location with another charity ride – BAA Bikers against Autism. Due to all the rain, their original last stop of the day in Grafton was under water.
Members of our ride even bid on some of their auction items.
My friend John Snyder grabbed the microphone and explained to everyone in the room how we all came together and shared our day to help out children in need.
The lead singer of the band performing at our stop bought a Bikers for Backpacks t-shirt for $100!
By the end of the day, we had collected $1,373 in cash donations, 63 backpacks and 695 pounds of kid-friendly food.
All in all it was a great event with or without Mother Nature being on our side! Thanks to everyone who weathered the storm. We’ll see you next year!
We would like to thank Wristbands.net for their generous donation of custom wristbands for Bikers for Backpacks!
And a special thank you to the following individuals who helped make this a great day – John Snyder, Sarah Jenner, Cindy Jenner, Mary Givens, Pat Delhougne, Gail Chadwick, Carol Gabriel, Denise Daugherty and Tracy and Jerry Ripley with Ride Hard Magazine.
Trisha Jenner is the Receiving Coordinator at the St. Louis Area Foodbank.
When I was a kid, I spent half of my time on a family farm.
Nearly every morning, I would walk out to the chicken coop with my bucket in tow. I’d carefully reach into the straw and pull out the brown eggs the hens laid the day before.
On a farm with chickens, fresh eggs are abundant.
At Easter, we’d have dozens of hard-boiled eggs to dye and decorate. If we wanted to bake a cake, we had the eggs to make the batter. If we wanted scrambled eggs for breakfast, sure, no problem.
In fact, it wasn’t until I was a city-dwelling adult that I realized just how many savory dishes and desserts require fresh eggs. By that point, I no longer had access to the “free” eggs from the coop.
These days, if I want eggs in my fridge, I have to buy them at the store. I seldom remember to put them on the grocery list, so on many a night, I find myself knocking on a neighbor’s door, hoping to borrow an egg so I can finish supper.
Fortunately for clients of the St. Louis Area Foodbank, they won’t need to buy or borrow eggs for quite awhile.
Today, Rose Acre Farms of St. Louis donated 34,500 eggs to the St. Louis Area Foodbank. For families in need, eggs are a sought-after commodity.
Not only are they a required ingredient for many meals, but eggs on their own are a source of high-quality protein and other vital nutrients.
According to the USDA, one large egg delivers six grams of protein and 13 essential nutrients such as choline, folate, iron and zinc. Additionally, the USDA concluded in 2011 that the average amount of cholesterol was 14 percent lower and vitamin D content was 64 percent higher than previously thought.
In the bi-state region, one in eight adults struggles with food insecurity. For children, the statistics are even more daunting – one in four children in the Foodbank’s 26-county service territory deal with hunger on a regular basis.
“Rose Acre is a fifth-generation family business, and we take pride in giving back to our local community,” stated Bob Niewedde, inventory control director of Rose Acre Farms.
For six years, the United Egg Producers have been organizing a nationwide effort to give food insecure families a helping hand.
U. S. egg farmers are donating nearly nine million fresh eggs this year, bringing the total number of fresh eggs donated by egg farmers since 2008 to 69 million.
Consumers can participate in the nationwide effort by going towww.facebook.com/UEPCertified and pledging to buy UEP-certified eggs. For every pledge received, United Egg Producers will donate one carton of eggs to a local food assistance organization.
Bethany Prange is the communications coordinator at the St. Louis Area Foodbank.
Last March, I challenged our blog readers to help support the St. Louis Area Foodbank by getting involved in the Schnucks eScrip program. Since that time, we have seen eScrip donations nearly double!
To the folks already using their eScrip cards – a big thank you! During 2012, your eScrip donations provided over 3,000 meals for your neighbors in need!
The best thing about eScrip is that it allows you to help make a difference at absolutely no cost to you. If you are curious about the program, here are the easy three-step instructions:
1. Pick up your eScrip card at any Schnucks Customer Service Counter or get your eScrip card at the St. Louis Area Foodbank. Just ask Mary, our friendly Foodbank receptionist!
2. Follow the easy steps to activate the card (this step is particularly important because if too many of the cards issued to the Foodbank fail to be activated, we will not be eligible to receive additional cards).
3. Lastly, when you shop at any Schnucks market, present your eScrip card to the cashier before he or she totals your order.
To those not yet in possession of this valuable card – I ask why not? You need to shop anyway – so why not turn a weekly ‘have to’ into a warm and fuzzy moment by knowing you made a difference in the lives of those in need?
St. Louis Rams General Manager Les Snead signs an autograph for a young fan / Photo by Dave Preston
When Kevin Demoff, executive vice president of football operations for the St. Louis Rams, announced they would be hiring Les Snead as the team’s general manager, he said, “…We think with him (Snead) and Jeff (Fisher) running our football operations, we have a chance for sustained success.”*
If Snead decides to continue chairing the St. Louis Taste of the NFL, as he did this year for the first time, this event has a strong chance for sustained success, just like the Rams.
Taste of the NFL organizers could not have planned a better set of circumstances. On Sunday, the Rams played NFC West Division leaders, the San Francisco 49ers. The game ended dramatically with rookie kicker Greg Zuerlien booting a 54-yard field goal to give the Rams a 16 – 13 win in overtime.
The victory pushed the Rams to 4-0-1 within the division. They’ve already more than doubled their win total from a year ago.
The next night at the Taste of the NFL, more than 20 Rams players showed up at the Foodbank to sign autographs, mingle with guests and sample food from St. Louis area restaurants. When it was time to introduce them to the crowd from the stage, Snead had a funny story or special memory about each player.
Joined by his wife, former NFL Network reporter Kara Henderson Snead, the couple showed good chemistry while reliving draft day stories with some of the team’s rookies and enjoying a laugh about locker room pranks pulled off by some of the veteran players.
Veteran defensive end Chris Long seemed to have involvement in the majority of the pranks. Despite Sneads’ story-telling, Long claims to have “no idea” how 3,000 live crickets and more than 50,000 packing peanuts ended up in teammate James Laurinaitis’ vehicle after a long day of practicing.
All of this made for a great evening for those in attendance and a successful fundraiser for the St. Louis Sports Commission and the Foodbank.
In his short time with the team, Snead has earned the respect of the Rams’ players. On Monday, that respect was very evident by the player turnout to support their general manager in his first year as event captain.
With the money raised that night, the Foodbank will be able to provide more than 140,000 meals for hungry families throughout the bi-state region.
When a family gathers around their kitchen table tonight to eat a meal prepared with food they received from the St. Louis Area Foodbank, they can thank Rams players and personnel like Cortland Finnegan, Robert Quinn and of course, Les Snead for helping to make the Taste of the NFL a resounding success – one that will hopefully be sustained for years to come.
Of course, the deceitful trick pulled by Costanza comes back to haunt him later in the episode when his boss, Mr. Krugar, finds out The Human Fund doesn’t exist.
For those of you familiar with that infamous “Festivus” episode, I’m sure you know it’s good for some laughs.
But in reality, there are some great ways to make holiday honor donations to very worthy – and very real -causes.
This year, if you decide to forgo buying your dad yet another Christmas tie, or buying your business partner his umpteenth set of golf balls, consider making a charitable donation in their honor.
The feel-good factor of making a donation to hunger relief in our region can be far more valuable than even the coolest golf accessories.
Here’s how it works:
• In lieu of gifts, simply make a tax-deductible donation to St. Louis Area Foodbank in the name of those you wish to honor.
• For a minimum gift of $15 per letter, we will mail an acknowledgement of your gift to your list of designated honorees.
• The letter will be sent on Foodbank holiday stationary, personalized to include your company’s name and signed by our CEO.
In many professions — advertising, law, wealth management and healthcare to name just a few — a list of clients and business associates can exceed 50 to 100 names.
So how do you wish everyone a happy holiday? Sometimes, this massive gift giving can be labor-intensive and very exhausting.
Still, acknowledging clients, colleagues, vendors and associates around the holidays has become a best practice in business. It’s a way to build and strengthen relationships.
But who needs another paperweight or gift basket of jellies?
Our Holiday Honor Letter Program can be an effective solution to the gift-giving dilemma. It has four main benefits:
1. This type of gift, as opposed to others, is tax-deductible.
2. For the busy professional, this one-stop shop saves a remarkable amount of time.
3. This gift generates good public relations.
4. Lastly, your charitable donation makes a positive difference in the community. Every dollar donated yields four meals for people in need of food assistance.
“Every holiday season most offices receive lots of homemade goodie baskets or plants. Instead of doing the same, we decided several years ago that holiday honor letters are a wonderful way to show appreciation for the referrals we receive, while doing something good for the community.”
So, if you are looking for a way to acknowledge your professional and personal networks this upcoming holiday season, please contact Patrick Delhougne and we can start working on your gift today!
Patrick Delhougne is a development associate at the St. Louis Area Foodbank
A United Way sign posted outside the St. Louis Area Foodbank / Photo by Ryan Farmer
Helping People. It’s what we’re doing at the Foodbank by providing food and personal care items to more than 57,000 individuals each week. The Foodbank helps people and we’re part of a bigger picture that is the United Way of Greater St. Louis.
It’s a membership that we’re very proud of, because we know the rich tradition that the United Way has in this town. The standards of quality that they require of their nonprofit members are not to be taken lightly.
The United Way currently provides funding to more than 170 local nonprofits. They bring individuals and organizations together to solve problems. And, they mobilize thousands of volunteers annually.
We have enjoyed a great relationship with the United Way over the years. They have sent hundreds of volunteers to help repackage food; they’ve helped us organize food drives and distribution locations when natural disasters strike, like the tornadoes that recently hit Bridgeton and Joplin; and the funding they provide has helped us bring in millions of pounds of food to the area.
This week, the United Way launched their fundraising campaign. They’ve set their goal at $72 million.
It’s a lofty goal, but one that needs to be achieved, not only for what it means to the nonprofits they support, but for the thousands of clients throughout the bi-state region that rely on their services.
When you support the United Way of Greater St. Louis, you are supporting the St. Louis Area Foodbank.
We encourage you to give what you can to the United Way, either through payroll deduction or online at their website.
You’ll feel good and you’ll know that you’re truly helping people.
Ryan Farmer is the communications coordinator at the St. Louis Area Foodbank
A representative from a St. Louis Area Foodbank partner agency loads donated Target product, inlcuding two bicycles, into their van / Photo by Shannon O’ Connor
I’m a finicky shopper, just like everyone else.
If I see a dented can of green beans on a grocery aisle, I’m probably not going to pick it up and throw it in my cart. I’ll reach out and grab a can that hasn’t been dropped by a rambunctious toddler.
When I choose a tomato or cantaloupe, I’m probably not going to go straight for the one that has a funny spot on it.
Even thought I logically realize that the spotted fruit is just as good as the spotless tomato right next to it, I’m still going to choose the shiniest, prettiest piece of fruit I can find.
Like me, I’m sure you have wondered what happens to all that “unchosen” food? What happens to the lonely dented cans, the misshapen fruit and the bread that is past one day old?
If customers don’t buy it, and the stores need to clear their shelves to make more room for new items, where does all that stuff go? It’s still good, high-quality food!
Fortunately for the families we serve, many local stores donate that food to the St. Louis Area Foodbank.
Here, we provide a temporary home to those ugly tomatoes and dented cans. And within a few days, we send it out to hungry families right here in the bi-state region.
Across the country, Feeding America and its affiliated Foodbanks partner with major grocery chains such as Walmart, Sam’s Club, SuperValu and Target.
The St. Louis Area Foodbank alone receives nearly 14 million pounds of donated product each year; 3.7 million of which comes directly from these retail/wholesale donors.
Canned goods, fresh produce, bread, dairy and meat come in every week from 114 individual stores right here in our region!
For example, Target has 22 committed locations which provide us with not just high quality meat and produce, but also essential home goods and personal care items. So far this year, Target has donated more than 266,000 pounds.
It takes a team effort to get that unsold food from the stores to the Foodbank, and we truly appreciate every store employee who helps make it happen.
One top store that not only presents high donation numbers, but also provides a great mixture of items for our needy families is Target Bridgeton. Since 2008, the enthusiastic team at Target Bridgeton has helped provide a high quality mix of nutritious food for the 261,000 people we serve every year!
So far this year, they have already donated more than 21,000 pounds.
This week I had the opportunity to accompany Foodbank driver Denise Daugherty as she made her routine pickup at this store.
The store’s receiving manager, Laura Vitale, greeted us at the door. Laura has worked at Target for 30 years, and had great positive feedback about our partnership.
We did a brief Q & A:
Foodbank: Has a customer ever asked you what Target does with its unsellable items? If so, what was your response?
Vitale: Absolutely. I have been asked in the past as well as recently and of course explained that we donate to the St. Louis Area Foodbank. I provide them with a brief explanation of how the program works.
Foodbank: Among the different categories Target is encouraged to donate from, which do you see the most donations?
Vitale: Well we obviously give more produce since the start of the PFresh program at the store. Meat items have been increasing as well, due to updates in guidelines and the systematic and timely manner to pull product ready for donation and how to store it until you guys come pick it up. Overall, I would say each category is showing growth due to the aggressive steps taken by our consumables manager to get each department on board, as well as myself going through the product and organizing it in the warehouse.
Foodbank: Please detail the donation process.
Vitale: Our department team leaders communicate well in making sure that any potentially donated product is pulled properly from shelves, stored in the right spot, and then sent to me or to customer service, depending on the type of item. The paper and personal care (or nonfood) items are usually directed to customer service and then processed by me in receiving. A driver from the St. Louis Area Foodbank picks up from this location Monday, Wednesday, and Friday of each week. When the driver calls to notify me of her arrival time, I contact the departments to have them bring their donations to the warehouse. The items are separated on pallets by product category. The driver loads up the truck and signs off for the donation. It goes smoothly each time. The donations are taken to your facility and then I know distributed to the agencies.
Foodbank: What is the strangest or most unique donation you have given to us that you recall?
Vitale: That is hard to say. I like to be sure that any item that fits within our guidelines but is still usable or eatable be given to your organization. However, I would have to say that some of the most unusual items fit under the nonfood category such as today’s BBQ grill we are giving you or the bikes we have given in the past. Nothing is particularly wrong with these items but they are considered “damaged” or “donated” due to a dent or chipped paint for example. I know that someone can fix and find use for these items so there is no sense in wasting them.
Foodbank: What is your favorite part about the donation process and what stands out about the Foodbank?
Vitale: I feel proud that Target helps contribute to serving those less fortunate. I feel proud that I helped to provide something that a family may need and was not otherwise able to pay for on their own. Also personal care items such as shampoos are important for the individuals to get since food stamps do not always cover such needs. The St. Louis Area Foodbank works well with Target. The drivers are consistently prompt, helpful, and provide great attitudes. Your organization allows us to make use of unsellable items and answers any questions we may have about donations.
The St. Louis Area Foodbank is honored to partner with Target, as well as other retail companies in our service area. We value the donations given through this program and hope to encourage those retailers and/or wholesalers not already affiliated to please contact us. We would be happy to work with others in the area and make it easier for stores to operate and minimize waste.
For all the consumers out there, feel free to contact us with any local stores you frequent that may not be donating to an organization such as the Foodbank.
And don’t feel too guilty about not buying that misshapen cantaloupe! It’s getting eaten!
Shannon O’Connor is the product solicitation coordinator at the St. Louis Area Foodbank
Kim and Megan say one of the most important things they learned on the show was to think of food as a source of nutrition and sustenance for the body – not as a comfort or crutch during moments of stress, drama or high emotion.
Though it seems like common sense, it bears repeating the food should only be eaten when you’re hungry. Most of us are guilty of eating when we’re bored, lonely or upset.
Kim and Megan are a testament to the health benefits that can result from understanding the role of food in your life.
Thursday, they visited the St. Louis Area Foodbank, where food and hunger are an everyday matter. Megan came to the Foodbank to distribute 5,000 pounds of Newman’s Own spaghetti sauce and salad dressings.
Newman’s Own donated the product to the Foodbank after Megan and her fellow “The Biggest Loser” contestants competed to unload a truck of their products on the show back in March. See episode.
During their visit this week, Megan and Kim shared the tips they learned from “The Biggest Loser” about healthy eating and nutrition, key elements of our mission here at St. Louis Area Foodbank.
Obviously, the Foodbank’s first priority is to make sure the 57,100 people we serve each week have enough to eat. For many of our clients, hunger is a feeling they know all too well.
We realize that for many low-income families, putting food on the table can still mean choosing whatever food is available and affordable. That’s why the Foodbank makes providing fresh produce and healthy food options one of our top priorities.
But as we do this, we also want to equip the families we serve with the same knowledge offered to Kim and Megan on “The Biggest Loser” ranch. We want our clients and our partner agencies to have the knowledge to make the healthy choices whenever possible.
Kim and Megan had a few tips to share from their experiences on the ranch that can easily be related to everyday life – regardless of a family’s income level.
• Hydrate. Water is free and is essential to good health. Megan says staying hydrated helps the body lose weight and maintain optimum health.
• Get active. Exercising doesn’t have to mean going to an expensive gym, says Kim, a registered nurse at Barnes-Jewish Hospital. Take a walk around your neighbor or play soccer with the kids in the yard.
• If you must eat unhealthy foods, counteract it with extra physical activity – walking, jogging.
• Whenever possible, consider the value of what you’re eating. Even if a small portion of potato chips has the same amount of calories as a portion of baby carrots, choose the carrots. The benefits are greater.
Bethany Prange is the communications coordinator for the St. Louis Area Foodbank
Two area bikers show up for the Bikers for Backpacks event at the St. Louis Area Foodbank / Photo by Bethany Prange
The first Bikers for Backpacks Ride for St. Louis Area Foodbank was a huge success thanks to the wonderful people who showed up to ride, donate or volunteer their time.
Although Friday was cold and rainy, Mother Nature smiled on us on Saturday, shining down with sunny skies and only a slight chill in the air. When we set up our registration table in the Foodbank’s back parking lot, we weren’t quite sure how many motorcycles we’d see that day.
But from 9 to 10 a.m., a steady stream of riders followed the curve of Corporate Woods Drive, steering their motorcycles onto the lot. Before long, the Foodbank parking lot looked like a bike show, with dozens of motorcycles on display.
Before we left our parking lot at 10:30 a.m., we counted 41 motorcycles of various designs, styles and colors. The best part was, the riders seemed to have really enjoyed finding a backpack that either matched – or contradicted – their bikes.
One biker dressed in leathers wore a menacing gray and black skull bandana on his face. He paired it with a bright pink Hello Kitty backpack stuffed with kid-friendly food donations.
Then there were leather-clad cyclists carrying red and blue Spiderman backpacks, boxes of Kool-Aid and even pink and purple backpacks filled with donations.
The highlight was a mystery rider who showed up in full motorcycle gear, but rode a bicycle! He pedaled up to the starting point with a backpack filled with food and claimed he would be getting a head start. Somehow he managed to make every stop on his bicycle. Hmmm?
After leaving the Foodbank, the riders made stops at several establishments before ending later in the afternoon at the Hawg Pit restaurant in Grafton.
Each rider made a monetary donation or brought a backpack filled with kid-friendly food items for the St. Louis Area Foodbank. The Foodbank provides meals to 261,000 people a year in 26 counties in Missouri and Illinois. Of those individuals, 39% are children under the age of 18.
In all, the first Bikers for Backpacks Ride raised $1,000 in cash donations and brought in 49 backpacks filled with 839 pounds of easy-access, nutritional, kid-friendly food.
Helmets off to everyone who made donations, including Mary Beth Bergfeld and her group from UPS who donated 136 pounds and $25 to the ride!
All the food donations will be packed by volunteers and distributed over the next few weeks. In all, the food and funds donated during the ride equal about 4605 meals for hungry kids!
Keep your eyes and ears open for the 2013 ride and pass the word on to your friends.
Thank you so much for your kindness and generosity. And please WATCH FOR MOTORCYCLES ON THE ROADS!
Trish Jenner is a volunteer coordinator at the St. Louis Area Foodbank