Joe Venable has been coming to volunteer at the St. Louis Area Foodbank for 5 years.
He brings a group of 12 -15 volunteers from Scott Air Force Base with him, and they are very appreciated in our Volunteer Center.
“Whenever we see that Joe’s group is on the schedule, we know we’ve got to have a lot of work to do to keep them busy,” said Harry Steen, the Volunteer Center Manager at the Foodbank.
Saturday, October 7, was Joe’s last volunteer shift at the Foodbank because he’s moving to Colorado. Although we’re sad to see him go, we’re happy for this new opportunity in his life and the positive impact he’s had here at the Foodbank.
Joe first came to volunteer in 2012, and he resonated with the fact that veterans were included in the over 392,000 people the Foodbank serves each year. He loves to see younger generations getting involved in the Volunteer Center, and believes that instilling the habit of giving back early in kids is important.
“I couldn’t have done it without the folks at Scott Air Force Base,” Joe said of his regular group of volunteers. Good luck with all you do, Joe! You will be missed!
This year the House Agriculture Committee has hosted Listening Sessions all across the country to hear from key stakeholders as they prepare to draft and pass a new Farm Bill in 2018.
The Farm Bill is a massive piece of legislation that establishes programs and appropriates funding for everything from agricultural research to crop insurance to federal nutrition programs like SNAP (formerly food stamps). St. Louis Area Foodbank Outreach Coordinator, Ashley Rube, traveled to Decatur, IL on August 30th to testify at one of these Listening Sessions and advocate for the programs that provide vital resources to the nation’s food insecure. Read her testimony below or watch the hearing in full (see Ashley at 1:58:45)!
My name is Ashley Rube. I work at the St. Louis Area Foodbank, which serves 26 counties across both Missouri and Illinois. We are a member food bank of Feeding America, and we are privileged to work with 500 local agencies across our service territory that put life-changing resources into the hands of our neighbors in need.
With their help, we distributed over 42 million pounds of food last year to 392,000 individuals including senior citizens, veterans, working parents, and, our single largest food insecure population, children.
And their need persists. During the Foodbank’s first year of operation in 1975, it distributed roughly 160,000 pounds of food. We now move that much food every day. We have grown over the past 42 years to better address the need in our communities, but with 1 in 6 people in our region facing hunger, we cannot meet the need that exists on our own.
My church in St. Louis operates a food pantry that partners with the Foodbank. During each Sunday service the prayer requests of the pantry guests are shared aloud. They pray for better health, for stable work, and for safer living situations for their families. They pray for our elected officials. And they offer thanksgiving for upcoming job interviews, hopeful medical diagnoses, and the generosity of neighbors.
The people we serve are struggling to put food on the table. And when their need is met at the pantry, they can focus on all of the other parts of life we all need to thrive – from steady employment to healthy lifestyles, and even civic engagement..
Those of us here today – from farmers to food bankers and members of the Agriculture Committee – we know that food is where it all starts. Meeting this most basic need makes so much more possible
Food makes the difference. And thanks to the partnership of the federal government, those of us at the Foodbank make a bigger difference in our region. Nearly 20% of the foods we distribute are provided through The Emergency Food Assistance Program. All told, federal nutrition programs provide over a quarter of all the food we send out of our warehouse, and these foods are among the most nutritious we offer.
The nutrition programs contained in the Farm Bill – from TEFAP to SNAP – are vital in every sense of the word. They mean food on people’s tables, which means fuel for good work and healthier lives.
Despite our growth as a food bank, there is still need in Missouri and Illinois we cannot meet. But together – with a strong Farm Bill, fully funded nutrition programs, and conscientious policies – we can.
I ask, on behalf of my colleagues at the St. Louis Area Foodbank, our community partners, and the families we serve, to please thoughtfully consider how this Farm Bill can preserve and bolster our nation’s commitment to eliminating hunger. We thank you for your partnership and remain eager to collaborate with you for the good of all our communities.
As a lifelong sports fan, Dustin knows hard work and practice make perfect.
That’s why he maintains a blog where he can sharpen his writing skills and work towards his dream job in sports broadcasting. A former football player and now a coach to his community’s high school football team, Dustin has plenty to write about. And when he isn’t writing or coaching, he is pursuing his substitute teaching certification.
Dustin’s perseverance has paid off, but that hasn’t made the journey easy. In December of 2008, Dustin was involved in a car accident that would affect his mobility and plans long term. He had to put the completion of his sports communication degree on hold for nearly three years in order to focus on his recovery and to rethink his future.
Almost ten years later, Dustin is taking all he’s learned and dreaming bigger than ever. And Dustin will be the first to tell you he hasn’t made it this far on his own.
In 2015 he visited the Highland Area Christian Service Ministry for the first time to receive some assistance collecting his social security income. While there, Dustin learned about the ministry’s food pantry. Dustin has since visited the food pantry one to two times each month to collect the healthy foods that sustain his active life. “I eat a lot of peanut butter. Probably more than most people you know. I get my peanut butter from [the food pantry] – it’s a good source of protein.”
HACSM also helped Dustin apply for a Link Card (food stamps) so he can round out his diet with nutritious purchases from the grocery store. Some foods, like Activia yogurt, are critical for Dustin’s health and rehabilitation, so he’s grateful for the opportunity to choose what he needs when he needs it.
As busy as he is, Dustin always makes time for family. “I’ve been trying to make it a point to get to a family or friend’s house for dinner, and there’s usually kids there, and I stay on top of them about making a happy plate and telling them ‘Brushing your teeth may not sound important, but it will pay off if you do it in the long run’”
Dustin explains that a “happy plate” is what you have when you finish your meal. Happily, Dustin has a lot on his plate, from a burgeoning career to an active social life. Thanks to the staff and volunteers at the Highland Area Christian Service Ministry food pantry, Dustin has a lot on his dinner plate, too. “People never know when they’re going to need something like this. It is unbelievable how many different lives and families that I see the Highland Food [Pantry] impact positively!”
The Pittsburg Food Pantry has served the residents of Williamson County in Illinois for nearly 20 years.
Eight years ago, River Church, at the invitation of the Village of Pittsburg, took over the responsibility of the Pantry, and has run it from their location ever since. The Pantry is open the last
Saturday of every month from 8:30 – 10:30 a.m. and provides emergency food boxes between distribution days. In addition, it provides blood pressure screenings upon request and helps people fill out requests for SNAP benefits. On average, the Pittsburg Food Pantry feeds 350 people each month.
“We strive to meet any need that we can,” notes the pantry director, Melissa Swayze. “We like to think that our set-up is unique. For example, we load the food for every person that comes in our door; they do not carry it out themselves. We have blood pressure screenings available and can help with just about any situation someone may have. If we cannot help them, we can certainly help get them the information that they may need to find that help.” The Pantry serves people from all types of life situations, including job loss or unexpected expenses that take limited income away from buying food. The organization also has seen an increase in the number of senior citizens coming for food assistance.
A Foodbank partner for the past eight years, Pittsburg Food Pantry receives many types of dry goods, produce, dairy and household items in deliveries twice a month. “These items are greatly important,” says Swayze. “Our Pantry depends heavily on the Foodbank. We would not be able to serve the number of people we do without the Foodbank.”
The BBC interviewed Ritenour Co-Care, one of our partner pantries, about the election and how it affects their service to the community.
We’re proud of Ritenour Co-Care and all of our partner pantries for doing their best to serve hungry families in our region. Thank you to the BBC for helping shine some light on the issue of hunger in our world.
If you’ve been out to our facility recently, you may have noticed a few changes.
It’s not uncommon to see bulldozers, shovels, and cranes hanging out around the front of our building these days. We’re in the middle of some big changes that will help us fight hunger in our community. We’re adding a second-floor addition to house our new Hunger Engagement Center.
The Hunger Engagement Center will provide a versatile space for meetings and classrooms to help us engage with the community. We’ll also have a kitchen prep space for cooking demonstrations and other food-related outreach.
The first floor is also being expanded to include more rooms and storage for our growing company, and wonderful volunteers. We’re very excited about our expansion, and we can’t wait to put it to good use soon. Below are some photos that show the big changes we’re making.
Whether you’re enjoying a delicious yogurt parfait or a glass of milk, you’re doing yourself a favor with dairy!
Dairy is a great source of protein, calcium, and Vitamin D – all necessary for strong and healthy bodies. Our Registered Dietitian, Kelly Hall, put together a couple recipes for delicious, dairy-based snacks that are perfect for summer snacks.
We’d also like to thank the Midwest Dairy Council for their partnership in helping us get dairy to families in need.
¾ cup part-skim Ricotta cheese
½ cup vanilla low-fat yogurt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon orange juice, or half of an orange, juiced
1 tablespoon finely shredded or zested orange peel
Assorted cut-up fresh fruit
Combine ricotta cheese, yogurt, sugar, orange juice and orange peel in a blender or food processor or mix by hand.
Blend or mix until smooth.
If desired, cover and chill up to 24 hours. Serve with assorted fruit like apple, pear, peach and orange slices to dip.
Fruit & Granola Parfait
1 cup low-fat vanilla yogurt
½ cup crunchy granola or low fat cereal
½ cup fresh fruit, sliced (i.e. strawberries, blueberries, bananas)
To assemble parfait, begin with spooning half of the yogurt in the bottom of a bowl or tall glass.
MINI Cooper is partnering with Feeding America during their Test Drive Program.
During the MINI Cooper Test Drive Program, Feeding America receives a $20 donation for every test drive. As a partner food bank, that money will help feed people in our region! Each test drive would mean 80 meals for families in need.
The program runs from April 15 – 24.
If you’re looking for a fun and easy way to give back to your community, visit MINI of St. Louis and test out a new MINI Cooper!
April is National Garlic Month, and our Registered Dietitian has several reasons for you to celebrate.
Garlic is very versatile, which makes it an easy and inexpensive addition to lots of dishes. Garlic is heart healthy because it reduces the risk of heart disease, and it’s antioxidant properties reduce the chance of getting colds and the flu. Additionally, it’s a good source of vitamins and minerals like potassium, iron, and calcium.
Kelly has put together recipes for two different dips that are easy to make, and great with a variety of crackers, vegetables or chips.
Easy Garlic Hummus
1 (15 ounce) can garbanzo beans, drained, liquid reserved
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
Salt & pepper to taste
Blend garbanzo beans, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper in a food processor; add reserved bean liquid into the mixture as it blends until desired consistency is achieved.
Garlic and Herb Yogurt Dip
1 cup plain, fat free Greek yogurt
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons chopped chives
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon dried dill
1 tablespoon lemon juice
In a small bowl, combine Greek yogurt, minced garlic clove, chopped chives, salt, pepper, dried dill, and lemon juice; serve with veggies, crackers, or chips.
PS: If you’re worried about garlic breath, eating an apple or drinking green tea can help neutralize garlic on your breath!
Starting April 1, 2016, more than 30,000 adults will lose food assistance in the form of SNAP. The recent cuts will affect able-bodied adults without dependents (ABAWDs). ABAWDs are classified as a person between the ages of 18 and 49 who has no dependents and is not disabled. Food banks and other food assistance charities are estimated to see an influx of people needing food assistance.
Additional facts about ABAWDs:
Adults must complete 80 hours of work or training a month. If they fail to meet this requirement, which is roughly 20 hours of work per week, they will lose their SNAP benefits.
ABAWDs who don’t meet the requirement can only qualify for three months of assistance in a 36 month period.
During the Great Recession states were able to apply for a waiver allowing them to lift the three month minimum and 80-hour work requirement. The waiver was set to expire in December 2015, but allowed states/counties with high unemployment rates to reimplement the waiver again.
Last year Missouri passed SB 24 which limits Missouri from applying for the waiver after it expired at the end of 2015. Missouri is refusing to seek the waiver even for their high unemployment areas that could continue to qualify.
According to the USDA Missouri currently falls 8th in overall food insecurity (16.8%) and 2nd in very high food insecurity (7.9%).
Although this requirement is touted as a work requirement, it is in fact a time requirement. Calling it a work requirement suggests that it encourages people to look for work and provides a training or workfare position to everyone subject to the time limit. This is not the case. Individuals who work up to 20 hours and those looking for work are still terminated after three months and cannot receive benefits for another three years.
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