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Music To Our Ears

Sammy_Hagard

Patrick Delhougne accepts a check on behalf of the St. Louis Area Foodbank from Sammy Hagar / Photo by Ryan Farmer

 Remember When Bob Dylan Made a Christmas Album?

Here comes Santa Claus, here comes  Santa Claus, right down memory lane. . .

Ah, yes. With the holidays comes all those great songs we have loved since childhood.

Winter Wonderland, Here Comes Santa Claus, Jingle Bells, Must Be Santa and so on.

A long list of musical artists have covered or created holiday music in the last century. On that list is the great Bob Dylan.

In 2009, Dylan released an album called Christmas at Heart, with proceeds benefitting hunger relief charities all over the world.

 

That got me thinking about the ways that musicians have supported important causes. I wondered what other musical artists have supported hunger relief.

So, I casually started a list. It’s certainly not comprehensive nor is the list subject to one particular musical style.

Artists have encouraged fans to bring non-perishable items to concerts, donated a portion of proceeds from album sales, or served on entertainment councils.  Check out the diverse group of artists who have supported hunger relief:

• Bob Dylan
• Bruce Springsteen
• Tom Waits
• Chickenfoot
• Rough Shop
• Widespread Panic
• Bryan Greenberg
• Bon Jovi
• Tim McGraw
• Metallica
• Kenny Rodgers
• Willie Nelson
• Brad Paisley
• Miranda Lambert
• Lady Antebellum
• Zac Brown Band
• Toby Keith
• Jason Aldean
• The Urge
• Kenny Chesney
• Def Leppard
• Sugarland
• Sara Bareilles
• Toby Keith
• Rascal Flats
• Reba McEntire
• Martina McBride
• The Band Perry
• Eli Young Band
• Justin Moore
• Brantley Gilbert
• Sunny Sweeney
• Eden’s Edge
• Ella Mae Bowen
• Thomas Rhett
• 50 Cent
• Sheryl Crow
• Spencer Day
• Josh Groban
• Ben Harper
• Kimberly Locke
• Ludacris
• Jay Sean
• Katharine McPhee
• Onerepublic
• Benji & Joel Madden
• Phil Vassar
• Kellie Pickler

Even local musicians and bands jump at the chance to give back to the community.

Just this weekend, for instance, three locals bands – Million Hits, Lunar Levitation and Four Feet Skyscraper – will be performing at Cicero’s in St. Louis. The bands are asking everyone attending their Saturday concert to bring canned goods for the St. Louis Area Foodbank.

Someone once said that music could heal the world. Judging by the generosity of musicians in and around St. Louis, it seems that just might be true.

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

Low Cost Christmas

Christmas Crafts

The holidays are a busy time for most of us.

There are presents to buy and wrap, cookies to bake and the tree to trim.

Sure, it is a joyful season, but it is also a fast-paced time filled with lots of stress.

One of the most stressful things about the holidays is that many of us have to worry if we will be able to afford all the things we want to do as a family and all the gifts we hope to give.

No, Christmas isn’t all about the presents. But gift-giving is an integral part of the season.

So for those of us who are trying to stick to a holiday budget, we here at the St. Louis Area Foodbank have come up with a few wallet-friendly ideas.

With the help of our Pinterest page, we have come up with this list. Please feel free to comment below and offer your own suggestions!

 

Things to Do with the Family during the Holidays

• Load the family into the car and take a drive through your community to look at Christmas lights. Print out an I Spy list for the kids, giving them special things to look for during the drive. Here’s a great one.

• Let the kids make ornaments with items from around the house like popsicle stick! Check out these cute sleds! Or, make the cute ornaments above using cookie cutters andhomemade salt dough!

• Write letters and make cards for soldiers who can’t be with their families during the holidays. Here’s where to send them.

• Gather the neighbors together and pick a night to go caroling around the neighborhood.

• Bake cookies together as a family. No need to be fancy, buy affordable cookie mixes or ingredients at the local dollar store.

• Take the whole family to the FREE light display at Our Lady of the Snows National Shrine. The Way of Lights is magical! Plus, you can visit the Christmas Tree Room, wreath and Lego displays and experience the fun in the Children’s Village and puppet show!

• Volunteer together as a family. St. Louis has many, many charities who may need your help during the holiday season! Here’s a great list of places from the United Way of Greater St. Louis.

• Sit together and read holiday stories. Here’s a list of holiday books for kids.

• Have a holiday movie night with your favorite shows. Make a big pot of hot chocolate to sip during the movie! Here’s a site where you can watch 101 holiday movies online!

• Make DIY gifts for the entire family. These can be as simple or as complicated as you wish.  You can make almost anything from items around the house. Just a few ideas: a candle luminary out of an old tin can; handmade wreaths; bird seed ornaments; and Christmas décor from old wine bottles. Get more ideas on our Pinterest page.

Bethany Prange is the communications coordinator at the St. Louis Area Foodbank

 

Join The Club

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The new Sam’s Club location in Wentzville / Photo by Shannon O’Connor

 Yesterday was a special day for the Sam’s Club team in St. Louis. On Oct. 30, 2012, they celebrated the grand opening of a new Sam’s Club location in Wentzville.

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This new location, at 3055 Bear Creek Drive off Wentzville Parkway, will provide residents of St. Charles County and surrounding counties with great employment opportunity, consumer growth, and community giving to local organizations.

We know Sam’s Club staff are thrilled about this new store, but we here at the St. Louis Area Foodbank may be just as excited.

In 2011, Sam’s Club donated more than 49 million pounds of food to Feeding America’s affiliated food banks across the United States.

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Since 2007, the nine Sam’s Club locations in the bi-state region have been generously donating to the St. Louis Area Foodbank.  In Fiscal Year 2012, the St. Louis Area Foodbank received 848,112 pounds from those nine clubs. That food provided approximately 678,000 meals to families in need.

So it is with great honor and excitement that we partner with the newest and tenth Sam’s Club location.

Our Foodbank trucks pick up from each Club location on a weekly basis. We receive product from the bakery, meat, and deli departments.

 

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After each pickup, the food is brought to the Foodbank where it is weighed, repacked, and prepared for agencies to receive via pickup or delivery.  Sam’s Club donations offer our clients a great variety of protein, grains and vitamins, plus the occasional mix of desserts or snack items.

 

We can’t wait to start getting these types of products from the new Sam’s Club in Wentzville. We thank all our Sam’s Club partners and look forward to working with the staff.

If you are in the Wentzville area and have a moment, stop by to visit, shop, or join the newest addition to the Sam’s Club family and an esteemed partner of the St. Louis Area Foodbank!

ShannonOConnor_blog

    Shannon O’Connor is the distribution manager at the St. Louis Area Foodbank

 

Accounting For Food Safety – At the Foodbank and At Home

Tim Jackson

Tim Jackson stands in front of product at the St. Louis Area Foodbank / Photo by Bethany Prange

I’ve worked in the warehousing industry for most of my career, but this is the first non-profit organization that I have worked for. It is by far the most rewarding job I’ve had.

Not only do I get the opportunity to use my inventory tracking and management skills, but I also get to take part in a mission that improves the quality of life in our community.

I’ve been the Inventory Control Manager for almost five years at the St. Louis Area Foodbank.  My primary responsibilities include food safety, tracking and reconciliation, and compliance requirements for four state programs.

The Foodbank receives donations from across the country as well as from local donors.  Many of the donations are offered to us because they are a) in less than desired packaging or b) items that are close to code, which means they may soon expire.

Sometimes, obtaining and distributing 25 million pounds of food is quite a challenge. We work hard to track, store and distribute every food item safely and accurately. It is my responsibility to make sure all of this happens and to keep a strong relationship with our donors.

Over the past five years, I have noticed an increase in perishable products, particularly through the retail pickup program.  The retail pickup program allows us to pick up food directly from local retail stores, such as Walmart and Target.

Roughly 80 percent of the products we pick up from the local retail stores are items that need to be consumed within a short period of time.  To make sure this happens and no food goes to waste, we work with member agencies to identify last minute channels of distribution.

Regardless of which agency gets our food, safety is our top priority.

The Foodbank recently began the process of becoming AIB Certified.  Taking on a challenge such as this requires discipline from every aspect of food handling.  It is our goal to receive a superior rating from AIB – the highest standard of food safety – over the next six months.  This certification comes with extreme challenges and requires effort from all departments at the St. Louis Area Foodbank.  I take food safety seriously, and I understand that it is our responsibility to provide our community with a quality service.

That’s why we have made investments this year to ensure we can distribute food efficiently and accurately.  We will be upgrading our software database this year, an effort that will streamline some of the processes we currently use.

In 2011, we implemented RF scanners in the warehouse.  With this technology, we are able to move product using handheld devices in real-time, making us more efficient while eliminating some of the human error out on the floor.

In my time here at the Foodbank, I’ve learned so much about food safety.  I have a large responsibility to make sure we distribute food safely at the Foodbank, and I take this responsibility home with me to make sure my family has safe food on the table.

We all put a lot of trust in the stores, restaurants and friends that sometimes prepare food for our family. That’s where I rely on my personal knowledge of food safety. I feel that educating people around me about food safety is important.

A friend recently asked me how he could determine what was still safe to eat in his pantry.  I simply directed him to the food life extension list that can be found on our website.  My friend found the list useful and was delighted to come across the FDA recall widget on our member’s page.

When someone asks me “what do you do for a living”? I say inventory control at the St. Louis Area Foodbank.  The phrase “inventory control” gives some people pause.

After all, we don’t have to worry about sales, right?  While that is true, monitoring and protecting our inventory here is perhaps even more important.

I came from a sales/warehousing backround at a for-profit company and I find the tracking of inventory here to be held at a much higher standard.  Not only do we need to move product safely, we need to account for every bit of it.  Donors want to be sure that we can recall product, handle it safely, and report back on how it impacts the community.

I am fortunate to be part of such a great mission in the St. Louis area.  From the member agencies to the donors, we successfully combat the issue of hunger in a safe and effective way.

    Tim Jackson is the inventory control manager at the St. Louis Area Foodbank

 

Two Words That Shouldn’t Go Together

US Veteran

The Foodbank delivered more than 28,000 pounds of food to veterans in Marion, IL / Photo by Bethany Prange

 

All his belongings were stacked in a tidy pile at the base of a tree.

His stash of worldly possessions wasn’t large – just a duffel bag, a few shirts and a bag of toiletries.

As we added boxes of food to these supplies, the young man wondered aloud if anyone would steal his stuff before he could come back to retrieve it.

I looked around, convincing myself that surely, no one would steal from a homeless veteran.

“Homeless veteran – those are two words that shouldn’t go together,” said Steve, a veteran living at the Marion VA Medical Center in Marion, Illinois.

Steve helped me carry boxes of food across the grounds of the center to this tree, a temporary rest area for one homeless vet.

Throughout the day Steve and I helped other volunteers carry boxes of food for the veterans who had no car, and in some cases, no permanent home.

This day was a chance for veterans in need to get the things they needed, from medical care and counseling to food and clothing.

 
At the annual Stand Down for Veterans event, the St. Louis Area Foodbank joined other service agencies in providing that help.

 

The Foodbank handed out 28,000 pounds of food to nearly 150 veterans and their families.

While most veterans were able to pick up their much-needed food in a vehicle, some came through the line in wheelchairs or motorized scooters. Others walked through the line, carrying armloads of food to a nearby tree.

From there, I couldn’t be sure where these proud men and women would go. Would friends pick them up? Could they catch a ride to a shelter?

All I knew for certain was that these men and women would have food to eat, at least for awhile.

To me, it didn’t seem like enough.

As these veterans expressed their gratitude for the food, we thanked them for their service, wishing we could do more.

    Bethany Prange is the communications coordinator at the St. Louis Area Foodbank

Grocery Shopping For Good

Schnucks EScripts

A Schnucks’ cashier scans a customer’s eScrip card / Photo by Bethany Prange

No time to help your local food bank fight hunger?

We understand.

Life is crazy and often too hectic to leave much time for do-goodery.

But lucky for us, there is a cool way you can help just by doing something you already do!

We’ve told you before about the Schnucks eScrip card. It’s that nifty little card that designates 3 percent of your grocery bill to the St. Louis Area Foodbank.

Every time you shop for groceries and hand your eScrip card to the cashier at checkout at Schnucks, you are making a free donation to fight hunger in the bi-state region.

If you don’t already have an eScrip card, you can get one from the St. Louis Area Foodbank or at your neighborhood Schnucks Courtesy Counter. It’s totally free!

It’s a simple process to activate the card and designate the Foodbank as your charity of choice.  Then, all you have to do is give the card or key fob to the cashier when you shop.

And now, using the eScrip card is even better. From Sept.1 through Oct. 31, use your eScrip card to participate in the Schnucks eScrip Back-To-School Contest.

This year, nonprofits with the highest increase of shoppers using their eScrip cards compared to last year will get prizes!  The first prize is $500 for the nonprofit with the highest increase of eScrip users!

Plus, one Schnucks shopper from that nonprofit’s group will get a $50 Schnucks gift card for their own use!

So get your grocery shopping done, and be sure to use your eScrip card at the checkout! You could help the St. Louis Area Foodbank win $500 AND get the chance for some free groceries for yourself!

JaneC

Jane Corpora is a grantwriter at the St. Louis Area Foodbank

 

    Bethany Prange is the communications coordinators at the St. Louis Area Foodbank

Surviving on $35

SNAP CHALLENGE

Canned tuna fills the shelves at a local Save-A-Lot store / Photo by Bethany Prange

Can you feed yourself for $35 a week?

When I heard that Anytime Fitness was sponsoring the “Survive on 35” challenge, I was intrigued.

The goal was to encourage people to eat healthy on a budget, and to bring awareness to hunger issues.

They chose $35 because that is the average amount a person receives through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), commonly known as food stamps.

I knew that eating on $35 a week would be tough, but I was confident I could do it. I had an even smaller budget when I was in college, living on my own and making a fraction of my current income.

I also grew up in a large family where we purchased most of our food from discount grocers. My parents taught me how to be a thrifty shopper.

By the end of the challenge, I managed to just stay under my budget and I did come up with some tasty, nutritious meals. For me, this was a seven-day experiment that taught me a few lessons in frugal eating.

But for others, this is an everyday reality. This challenge truly opened my eyes to why so many struggle each day to provide food for their families.

• You can live on $35/week, but you’ll need transportation. To stretch my grocery budget, I drove past my usual grocery stories to shop at Walmart. Driving a few extra minutes was easy with a car, but if I didn’t have a means of transportation, I don’t know if I could have afforded to eat three meals a day.

• Eating out is a luxury you can’t afford when you’re on a strict budget. When you break down $35 per week it comes to just around $1.66 per meal. This means you have to plan out all your meals. Want to meet up with a friend for lunch? Forget it – unless you want to go hungry the rest of the week.

• It’s often easier and cheaper to eat unhealthy meals than it is to make highly nutritious, healthy meals. Ramen noodle cups were a staple of my lunch diet six years ago. This time around, sticking to a budget was much more difficult when I couldn’t offset it with 25 cent meals.

• Free food becomes a welcome treat. I’m extremely fortunate to work for a company that provides bread and bakery items to its employees. Some days I walk right past the food without glancing at it. When you’re on such a tight budget, you accept food whenever and wherever it’s available.

• You sacrifice convenience when you’re on a budget. I cooked more during this week than I normally do during a month. If I were working multiple jobs to support a family, it would be difficult to find time to prepare meals.

The goal of this challenge was to demonstrate ways to eat healthy on a tight budget. But more importantly, I think it also highlighted the tough decisions people have to make every day.

Yes, you can eat for $35 a week but you also need other resources such as transportation, basic cooking skills and time.

So if you ever come across a food drive for the St. Louis Area Foodbank and wonder if your donation of a few canned goods or $5 is going to make a difference, you can rest assured it will!

Patricia Lee

 

Patricia Lee is social media manager at Panera Bread and is a St. Louis Area Foodbank Social Media Avenger

On The Road…Again

Denise

Denise Daugherty starts her day by loading product onto her truck / Photo by Bethany Prange

Denise Daugherty is a hard-working woman.

As the only woman on the otherwise all-male crew of truck drivers at the St. Louis Area Foodbank, her mornings start with a healthy dose of hot weather and heavy lifting.

Before she can settle into her air-conditioned truck, Denise must first prep and load hundreds of pounds of food.  She will later deliver that food to food pantries throughout Missouri who will make sure it gets into the hands of those who need it most.

On July 6, a particularly steamy day in Missouri, I rode along with Denise as she made her deliveries.  From the very first stop at First Assemblies of God food pantry in St. Clair, Mo., it was clear that Denise is a woman on a mission.

Denise greeted the volunteers at the pantry with friendly conversation before she jumped up to unload the food. Despite the sweltering heat, she worked quickly to help move the bread, meat and other food into the pantry. The volunteers were more than grateful for both the delivery, and Denise’s help.

As she drove along to the next stop – Meramec Community Mission in Sullivan, Mo. – Denise talked about how important her work is. She also acknowledged that since federal commodities have declined, so has the amount of food she is given to deliver to agencies.

“It just isn’t enough to feed them,” Denise worries.

When asked what she likes most about her job, Denise quickly says several things – helping people in need, working with Foodbank staff, and driving her truck.

Without Denise and the rest of the Foodbank drivers, many of our partner agencies would have limited access to the food they need.  Today, more than 60 percent of our agencies have their food delivered while the rest choose to come to the Foodbank to pick it up themselves. In addition, the Foodbank drivers often pick up food donations from stores like Walmart and Save-A-Lot.

In just one day, Denise managed to not just deliver food to families in need, but also bring more food to the Foodbank to be distributed later.

With a remarkable combination of hard work and positive attitude, Denise and her fellow drivers make the work we do here possible.

Bethany Prange is the communications coordinator at the St. Louis Area Foodbank

 

Fighting Hunger With Laughter

HungerIsNoLaughingMatter

Mike Birbiglia headlines “Hunger Is No Laughing Matter” at The Pageant on August 11, 2012

Comedy and hunger don’t often appear in the same sentence.  For those struggling to put food on their plates, laughter is not often heard in their homes.

However, this Saturday night at The Pageant in the University City Loop, laughter will go a long way toward helping those in need throughout the bi-state region.

The laughs will be coming from those in attendance at the first ever “Hunger Is No Laughing Matter” event benefiting the St. Louis Area Foodbank.

The event boasts two world-class comedians – Mike Birbiglia and Greg Warren.

Mike hasn’t performed at the Pageant since September of 2009 and has a movie, “Sleepwalk With Me,” coming out soon. Greg has appeared on numerous late-night talk shows and always draws a crowd when he’s back in his hometown of St. Louis.

The hope is that the event will draw not only those who already support the Foodbank in our fight against hunger, but also those who may not be familiar with how we provide food and personal care items to more than 500 area food pantries, soup kitchens and shelters.

If there is any hope of one day eradicating hunger in our community, we’ll need all the help we can muster.  With that in mind, we’ve tried to put together a fun night for everyone in attendance.

Guests are encouraged to arrive early to have their picture taken in a special “faux-to booth” commemorating the event. Throughout the night, patrons can purchase raffle tickets for the chance to win great prizes from Live Nation, the St. Louis Rams, Blue Element Salon and Pin-Up Bowl.

There will also be an opportunity for one lucky patron to win a $250 gift card from Shop ‘n Save for correctly guessing how many meals the Foodbank can provide with a shopping cart full of food.  Mike Birbiglia will be selling and signing copies of his CD and book after the show in Suite 100 with proceeds going to the Foodbank.  Everyone in attendance will receive a special treat from Mom’s Originals.

 

The Foodbank hopes to raise at least $5,000 from raffle tickets and donations on the night of the event.  With that amount, the Foodbank can provide an additional 20,000 meals for hungry families throughout the region.

If you already have tickets for the event, thank you.  If you don’t have tickets, I’d encourage you to get some.  There’s no black tie required, the tickets are not expensive, there will be plenty of things going on and best of all, you get to laugh at two phenomenal comedians while helping your neighbors in need.

Laughing helps make a lot of things better and this Saturday, it will help make things a whole lot better for hungry families served by the St. Louis Area Foodbank.

For more information, including a link to purchase tickets, please click here.

Ryan Farmer

 

 

Ryan Farmer is the communications manager for the St. Louis Area Foodbank

Tator Tots and Jon Stewart – Celebrating America When Times Are Tough

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The American flag flies high above the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater / Photo by Bethany Prange

It has been a difficult few years.

Terms like layoff, poverty and hunger have become so familiar it’s hard to remember a time when the economy wasn’t troubled.

Current temperatures in the St. Louis region are hovering above 100 degrees as we approach the Fourth of July. The drought has caused many towns to cancel their annual fireworks display – and in some cases, their entire celebration.

These are reasons enough to feel a little less than enthusiastic about a mid-summer holiday.

But before you cancel your barbecue and climb under the covers to hibernate through this Independence Day, let’s take a moment to remember the things that make America so great.

• Americans are a generous lot.  We are a group of people who steps up to volunteer and donate to those less fortunate, even when we are struggling ourselves.  At the St. Louis Area Foodbank alone, more than 12,000 people volunteer here every year.  Despite their own circumstances, these individuals spend countless hours sorting and repacking food for families in need.

• Americans are clever folks. We’ve invented so many brilliant things – the Internet, toilet paper, the telephone, the artificial heart – we can forgive ourselves for reality television.

• Americans are free! Sure, we may not always like what our government does, but we live in a place where we’re free to shout about it from the rooftop. Better still, we can vote to change what we don’t like.

• Americans are resilient. As a country, we’ve faced adversity since we were born, but we just keep marching on. We’re a scrappy bunch and proud of it!

America put a man on the moon and brought the world iconic figures like Franklin Delano Roosevelt and classic designs like the 1966 Ford Mustang convertible.  From apple pie and baseball to Jon Stewart, we’ve got food, sports and entertainment in the bag.

And just in case you’re still not sure it’s great to be an American, CNN has a fun list of 100 things that make America great. Sure, they included Texas linedancing and the Dougie, but it’s still a fantastic list of unique things about this great country.

So as we approach Independence Day, let’s remember the awesomeness of being American. Even when things are tough, we still have tater tots and chocolate chip cookies!

Bethany Prange is the communications coordinator at the St. Louis Area Foodbank

 

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