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Dustin’s Story

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!”

Pantry Spotlight: Pittsburg Food Pantry

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

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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.”

We’re Under Construction!

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.

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This area used to house our Agency Relations team.
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The area was cleared of all non-structural furnishings.

 

 

July 12, 2016 (4)
New steel was installed to support the second floor.
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Wall supports are being added to the first floor.

June is National Dairy Month

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.

Fruit Dip

Ingredients

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

Directions

  1.       Combine ricotta cheese, yogurt, sugar, orange juice and orange peel in a blender or food processor or mix by hand.
  2.       Blend or mix until smooth.
  3.       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

Ingredients

1 cup low-fat vanilla yogurt

½ cup crunchy granola or low fat cereal

½ cup fresh fruit, sliced (i.e. strawberries, blueberries, bananas)

Directions

  1.       To assemble parfait, begin with spooning half of the yogurt in the bottom of a bowl or tall glass.
  2.       Add 2 tablespoons granola and ½ cup fruit.
  3.       Spoon on the rest of the yogurt.
  4.       Top with remaining 2 tablespoons of granola.

Mini Cooper Test Drive

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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!

MINI of St. Louis

40 Sunnen Dr

Maplewood, MO

63143 

Garlic Month

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

Ingredients

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

Directions

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

Ingredients

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

Directions

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!

30,000+ Adults Losing SNAP

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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:

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  • 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%).
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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.

Watch this video for more information about those affected by the new cuts 

Food Fair Volunteer Experience

The cold weather at last month’s Food Fair in Sullivan, MO, couldn’t keep volunteers from helping us feed families.

Todd came out with his father-in-law and helped sort and distribute thousands of pounds to their neighbors in need.  Below, he describes how he learned about the opportunity and about his experience in his community. Thanks, Todd, for giving back with us!

“I first learned about the Food Fair a couple of years ago, when I became a board member of Meramec Community Mission. I’ve always wanted to participate and help distribute the food. I know many of our clients personally, and realize many of them can really use this extra distribution. The day of delivery  was very windy & cold but the spirits were warm. All the volunteers were happy to help and It did not seem like work at all. It was a blessing  that we could be there for others in our community that are less fortunate.

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Todd (left) and his father-in-law at the Sullivan, MO Food Fair last month.

 

I can’t say that I ever experienced hunger, but I grew up very modestly. As I child, my brothers and sisters remember receiving pajamas every year from our Grandparents. We were never excited about that rectangle box, but as the years have passed it has become a cherished memory because of the love that wrapped that present. The gift of pajamas really helped my parents provide for our winter needs.”

If you’d like to volunteer your time, visit our website to find opportunities!

Pantry Spotlight: Victory Dream Center

Victory Dream Center in Carbondale, Ill., serves the Illinois counties of Jackson, Jefferson and Williamson

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Founded as a church in 1998, Victory Dream Center transitioned to a more outreach- focused organization and connected with the St. Louis Area Foodbank in 2010. The Center’s services include a “Client Choice” food pantry open on Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., and  Sunday from noon to 1 p.m. “Client Choice” pantries allow people seeking food assistance to choose for themselves what products they receive, instead of being handed a bag/box of food to take home.

Community Resource

In addition, Victory Dream Center offers a Youth Outreach with dinner program on Wednesday evenings, and a hot buffet breakfast on Tuesday and Sunday mornings. Its Community Center is open Tuesday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., also allowing access to the pantry for emergency food assistance. Victory Dream Center serves food to an average of 900 families per month, which translates to about 2,500 individuals. Their Youth Outreach program provides activities and dinner to more than 125 children each week. “Many of the individuals we assist are currently homeless, without employment, or physically/mentally impaired,” notes Nathan Cherry, food pantry director. “We work to accommodate the specific needs of these individuals. We offer free classes for individuals who would like to find help and encouragement for emotional needs. We also offer transportation and access for anyone interested in speaking with a minister or attending spiritual meetings.” Twice weekly, the Center provides transportation for children, teenagers, adults and families to come there for food and support.

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Responding to the Flood

The communities this vital agency serves have been dealt some particularly difficult blows in the past year. Recent cuts in state funding, due to Illinois’ financial crisis, have forced many other local support outreaches to reduce the level of assistance they can provide. As a result, Victory Dream Center has seen a rise in need among the people it serves. Panic and fear hit nearby Grand Tower as the recent floodwaters raged.

Foodbank Partner

The Center obtains an array of food products from the Foodbank, including canned, boxed and frozen items, as well as fresh produce. The Foodbank delivers to Victory Dream Center twice a month and donated one of its old trucks to the Center two years ago, which it uses to pick up items from the Foodbank once a month. “These products are absolutely vital to our work,” Cherry notes. “These are the specific products we distribute in our community. We also use the products to cook and prepare our served meals. We cannot express in words how grateful we are for our partnership with the St. Louis Area Foodbank! It is one of the very best organizations you can possibly support with your donations; your dollars are multiplied many times over with the impact that the Foodbank can have on communities.”