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Struggling Families Pay It Forward

Sandra is battling breast cancer. But she is also battling hunger.

Last week, she skipped a chemotherapy treatment just so she could go to the Chester Area Christian Food Pantry to pick up the food she and her husband so desperately need.

And yet, Sandra doesn’t expect to take without giving back.


Sandra and her husband have a lush garden, so every time she comes to pick up food from the pantry, she brings in bags full of tomatoes and other vegetables.

She is just one of the many people in this small southern Illinois community who share what little they have with others in need.

Food pantry staff tell countless stories of families in need who bring in homegrown fruits and vegetables or handmade items, hoping to share their own bounties with other families in need.

Yesterday, at a food fair in Chester, Ill., Foodbank staff watched nearly 180 of these families in need wait patiently in line for hours for their share of food.


Some families lined up as early at 5 a.m., knowing the Foodbank truck wouldn’t arrive with food until after 10 a.m. They waited, in their cars, without complaint for nearly six hours.

This is a testament to how much these families truly need the food.

By 1 p.m., the nearly 20,000 pounds of food we delivered to Chester was gone, divided up amongst the families.

Every family I spoke with expressed gratitude for the food, and said without it, they would not have enough to eat.

They were also quick to tell me that when they get food from the pantry, if there is any extra or anything they can’t use, they share it with their neighbors in need.

Perhaps it is the common ground of hard times that motivates families in need to help one another. Or perhaps, they help each other when they can, simply because they want to pay it forward.

See some moving pictures from the Chester food fair here.

By Bethany Prange

Social Media Specialist

Plan Your Night Out with the Girls


Ladies, how long has it been since you’ve enjoyed a night out with your girlfriends?


How would you like to enjoy such a night guilt-free because you are simultaneously supporting a great charity?

If your interest has been peaked, then listen up.

On Friday, May 16, 2014, the St. Louis Area Foodbank is hosting the second annual Wine, Women and Shoes. The fun happens from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Crowne Plaza in Clayton.

Tickets are now on sale for this high-energy event.

Throughout the night, you can:

Sample fine wines from vintners across the country

Shop for the latest fashions in shoes, accessories and jewelry

Bid on one-of-a kind trips to Napa Valley or stock your wine cellar with great live and silent auction packages

Buy a chance to win the fabulous Keys to the Closet package worth thousands of dollars! The “Closet” contains a treasure trove of jewelry, shoes, clothing, accessories and lots of other surprises!

Discover the goodies inside your Swag Bag

Taste amazing food

Buy a surprise bag of wine from the Wall of Wine

Oh, and let’s not forget the Shoe Guys. Several hunky young men will be at your service all evening, serving up the latest in fashion footwear and wine pairings.

Wear your favorite pair of shoes and compete for prizes in the Best in Shoe contest!


So plan now to attend with your “sole” sisters! Individual tickets and Girlfriend’s packages are on sale. Buy tickets at or call 314-292-6262.

Also, follow and like our event on Facebook at to get the latest updates and check out photos from last year’s Wine Women & Shoes.

Be There! Be Fabulous!

By Jane Corpora

Grantwriter at the St. Louis Area Foodbank

It All Adds Up

I’m fat.Technically, I’m probably considered obese.
I don’t say this because I’m fishing for the obligatory “no you’re not.”I say this because, well, it’s true.

I gained more than 100 pounds during the nine months of my pregnancy. And since my son’s birth in August 2013, I’ve only managed to lose about 30 of those pounds.

I share these intimate details because it occurs to me that there is a misconception in our country about obesity.

Common sense would dictate that a country full of obese individuals could not also simultaneously be a country full of hungry people.

Recent studies have shown that yes, obese people can still be the same people struggling with hunger and food insecurity. They struggle to buy and eat foods that fulfill their nutritional requirements.

I realize this fact is counterintuitive.

It would seem rational to assume that someone who is overweight obviously isn’t having trouble finding food to eat.

But here’s the skinny – pardon the pun.

I myself have a real problem with eating the wrong foods for the wrong reasons.

If I’m stressed out, upset or emotional, my instinctive reaction is to reach for a comfort food, whether it is French fries, macaroni and cheese or mashed potatoes.

We are a culture of food, so it seems reasonable that when we’re under duress we crave the comfort of a tangible reminder of happier moments.

Say what you want about willpower, but when I’m sad or stressed, I don’t really care what those fries are doing to my hips.

So if I turn to junk food for comfort in my meager moments of stress, imagine the emotional eating habits of someone who faces overwhelming daily worries about unemployment, homelessness or overdue bills.

It’s also true that healthier foods require two things that low-income folks don’t have in abundance – time and money.

I myself am guilty of running through the drive through for a cheeseburger simply because after caring for a baby and working a full day, I don’t have the time or energy to go the grocery store, buy supplies, and prepare a healthy meal at home.

While the “plan-ahead” and “prep on the weekend” ideas are helpful, they’re not always feasible for me, let alone someone working two jobs.

And when it comes to the cost of food, healthy food just costs more. Yes, yes you can buy a bag of lettuce for $2. But while a $2 cheeseburger can fill you up, a bag of lettuce cannot. Or at least it doesn’t fill me up.

Even if time and money are available for healthier foods, there’s one more factor. Now, I won’t fib and say that I don’t “know” why and how to eat better.

But for some low-income folks this is just plain true. Sure, with all the media attention, most food insecure families probably know about the health consequences of poor eating habits.

But there’s a very good chance they don’t know how to go about improving their nutritional intake. The Food Network aside, there’s also a good chance some of these families have never learned how or what to cook. They don’t know what foods are both affordable and healthy. They may not have the time to search to peruse Pinterest for recipes.

Maybe they don’t even have the time or desire to worry about such things. I’m not much of a cook myself, so I can relate.

But while I have a support network and the option to join a gym, low-income folks do not. They already have a full plate, just trying to get by.

So, consider all these factors before you raise an eyebrow at an obviously overweight person at the food pantry or in line at the grocery store paying for food with food stamps.

As for me, well I don’t have any excuses that are nearly as sound.

Still, don’t judge me if I indulge in cheese fries now and then.

By Bethany Prange

Communications Coordinator at the St. Louis Area Foodbank

Everyone Deserves a Treat


“All I really need is love, but a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt!”

Lucy Van Pelt

In Peanuts by Charles M. Schulz

The St. Louis Area Foodbank distributed more than 34 million pounds of product this past fiscal year.

Eighty-eight percent of those pounds were nutritional foods – think meats, dairy, fruits and veggies.

So then, what the heck is in that last four million pounds?

In addition to the nutritional food we receive, we also bring in donations that include health and beauty products, household items, snacks and desserts.

Though we obviously prefer the healthier, high-nutrition foods, we know that struggling families need shampoo and paper towels, just like the rest of us.

Procuring candy donations isn’t a high priority for us. But we do believe that every person, regardless of their socio-economic status, deserves to treat themselves.

I can speak from personal experience when I say that a cookie or sweet after a healthy meal hits the spot!

What kind of birthday would a kid have without a birthday cake? How do you celebrate Valentine’s Day without a little chocolate or candy hearts?

The St. Louis Area Foodbank receives candy and desserts from our retail partners whenever the items are close to the best-by date.

We tend to get big donations of candy after all major holidays. We get a variety – holiday-themed candy considered unsellable by our stores, candy with misprinted packaging, or a new flavor that wasn’t a big seller.

We are fortunate to have The Hershey Company as a partner of Feeding America and its member food banks.

In fiscal year 2013, the Foodbank received 70,000 pounds from Hershey. So far this year, we have received nearly 14,000 pounds of goods from Hershey. The items we receive from Hershey generally come directly from their Midwest Distribution Center in Edwardsville, Ill.

As a Foodbank, we are glad to accept these items and distribute them to our agencies in a timely manner, instead of seeing them thrown away.

Giving someone the ability to receive such a special treat for Valentine’s Day is truly rewarding. We may not be that person’s “Valentine” per se, but surely we hope to have brightened their day when they are handed a chocolate sweet.

This Valentine’s Day, consider skipping the giant box of chocolate and buying a smaller one. With the extra money, donate to help us share a little love with families in need.

By Shannon O’Connor

Product Sourcing Manager at the St. Louis Area Foodbank

Dave Matthews Band Rallies STL for Hunger Relief

The Dave Matthews Band hits St. Louis tonight, July 10, 2013, with their summer 2013 tour!

This legendary band will not only provide a night of great live music at Verizon Wireless Amphitheater, but they’ll also be fighting hunger and promoting environmental awareness.

The Dave Matthews Band has partnered with REVERB, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, in a massive endeavor called the BamaGreen Project. Locally, they’re partnering with us here at the St. Louis Area Foodbank!



“The BamaGreen partnership between REVERB, Dave Matthews Band and IZSTYLE began almost 10 years ago, in 2006,” says Paige Roth, volunteer coordinator at REVERB. “In the past we have coordinated coat drives and promoted other causes; this is the first summer focused specifically on food issues.”

At tonight’s concert in St. Louis, Dave Matthews Band will ask fans to bring non-perishable food donations to the show. The St. Louis Area Foodbank will be there to collect food donations outside the main gates.

Once inside the gates, fans can support the Foodbank and hunger relief at the Eco-Village by purchasing a custom Dave Matthews Band basil seed packet for $5.

The Foodbank will use that $5 donation to purchase local produce for St. Louis-area families in need. It’s a great partnership all around!

“Fighting food insecurity and promoting local agriculture are issues that are important to both the Dave Matthews Band and REVERB,” Roth says. “We are excited because this program will connect food resources for people in need with local agriculture, in a meaningful way.”

Ways you can get involved:

  • Donate non-perishable food items at the concert
  • Carpool to the show
  • Visit the Eco-Village at the show
  • Buy food from your local farms as often as possible
  • Connect with the St. Louis Area Foodbank to donate or volunteer

BamaGreen Project is an on-going partnership between Dave Matthews Band, Reverb and IZSTYLE. It encompasses all of the environmental efforts undertaken by the band while on the road, in the studio or at home. In addition to working with the band, the BamaGreen Project is also dedicated to educating DMB fans around the world about how to take simple positive environmental actions.

REVERB is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization founded in 2004 by environmentalist Lauren Sullivan and her musician husband, Adam Gardner of Guster. Reverb provides turn-key greening programs for artists’ tours while conducting grassroots outreach and education with music fans everywhere.

By Bethany Prange
Communications coordinator at the St. Louis Area Foodbank.

Independence Day!

Happy Birthday America

The folks at the St. Louis Area Foodbank are a lot of things…

We’re mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers. We’re loyal St. Louisans and Cardinals baseball fans (most of us anyway).

We’re also patriotic Americans, and not just on the Fourth of July.

So how do we bleed red, white and blue year-round?

For starters, we try to work with and support organizations that provide services to our U.S. military veterans.  Here’s how:

  • In September 2012, the Foodbank distributed more than 28,000 pounds of fresh produce, canned goods and personal care items to 200 veterans and their families at the Stand Down for Veterans event at the Veterans Administration Medical Center in Marion, Ill.
  • In September 2013, the Foodbank will once again distribute these items at the Marion Stand Down event.
  • At three separate events – held April 28, 2012, November 3, 2012, and April 20, 2013 – the Foodbank distributed more than 15,000 pounds of personal care items, canned goods and easy-to-open foods to veterans in need at the Soldier’s Memorial in St. Louis. More than 300 veterans were served at each event! Check out the photos on Facebook »
  • At upcoming Stand Down for Veterans events in our region, we have added wool blankets to the products we will give out to veterans!

In addition to the Stand Down events, the Foodbank also partners with various veterans organizations, including Operation Homefront, to distribute food and furniture to veterans and their families.

Through our Transitional Housing program, we provide a one-month supply of food and household supplies to individuals – including veterans – moving from the street or a shelter to a permanent home.

We are proud to help those who have served our country.  Tomorrow, Foodbank staff will honor those veterans and show our American pride by participating in the 33rd annual July 4 parade in Bridgeton!

The theme this year is St. Louis traditions – and for Foodbank staff, creating a better community for all Americans IS our tradition!

Join us tomorrow at this family-friendly event to celebrate! The parade begins at 10 a.m. Thursday July 4, 2013, at the corner of Lockport and Benedetta. The parade will proceed on Benedetta to Tideland, then turn on Majella then left on Natural Bridge, ending at the Target/Machinist Hall parking lot.

If you’re one of the millions of American traveling over the holiday weekend, please check out these safe travel tips from Affton Patch and

Have a happy and safe Independence Day!

Lawyers Feeding Illinois

In the past few years, we’ve been fortunate to partner with the law community in the bi-state area on several great projects.

In the September 2011 issue of St. Louis Lawyer, Dale Joerling and Robert J. Wagner, both of Thompson Coburn LLP, published “How local charities can benefit from your cypres settlements.” The article detailed a unique way lawyers have contributed to St. Louis Area Foodbank—through settlements that requires cy pres distribution.  Cy pres is French, meaning “as close as possible.” When a gift is made by will or trust (usually for charitable or educational purposes), and the named recipient of the gift does not exist, has dissolved, or no longer conducts the activity for which the gift is made, then the estate or trustee must make the gift to an organization which comes closest to fulfilling the purpose of the gift. Recently, cy pres has been used in class action lawsuits where it is difficult to locate the intended beneficiaries (class members).  Whatever the reason, courts often must decide who, if anyone, should receive the unclaimed benefits.

In October 2012, President & CEO of St. Louis Area Foodbank, Frank Finnegan, was presented with a Spirit of Justice Award at the St. Louis Bar Foundation’s 5th Annual Golden Gala.

Then, in early 2013, we were supported by another great project conducted by the law community – Lawyers Feeding Illinois (LFI).

LFI was a competitive food and fund-raising campaign among lawyers and legal organizations across Illinois. The campaign supported the work of Feeding Illinois.

From February 18 – March 1, 2013, teams of lawyers competed to earn points by collecting food and funds. All donations were routed to local food banks based on zip codes, so contributions directly supported local communities.
Spearheaded by the Illinois State Bar Association, the LFI campaign was supported by theAttorneys’ Title Guaranty Fund and Attorney General Lisa Madigan, as well as several law firms, law schools, judges and bar associations.

In the first year of campaign, nearly 100 teams donated enough resources to provide an estimated 3.8 million meals to families in Illinois.

One organization in our service territory, Land of Lincoln Legal Assistance Foundation, was honored with the Best Government/Non-Profit Award!

The St. Louis Area Foodbank is one of eight food banks in the Feeding Illinois network that benefitted from the LFI campaign. We’d like to thank everyone who made the first year a success.

Donations from Lawyers Feeding Illinois help the St. Louis Area Foodbank serve families in the following 12 Illinois counties:

  • Calhoun
  • Jersey
  • Madison
  • St. Clair
  • Monroe
  • Randolph
  • Clinton
  • Washington
  • Perry
  • Jackson
  • Franklin
  • Williamson


Patrick Delhougne
Patrick Delhougne is the development associate at the St. Louis Area Foodbank.