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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

american_flag

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

 

Social Media Ethics

 

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Social networking platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus have become common in the workplace, even at nonprofit organizations. But as we use these new tools to spread awareness for our cause, we must consider the possible ethical implications for our clients, stakeholders, volunteers and the public.

Top Dos and Don’ts of Social Media Ethics

DON’T use the image of or information about a child (under 18) – even if they’re a volunteer – without at least verbal permission of a guardian. Better to be safe than sorry. For blogs, videos or detailed use, written permission is best.  Detailed explanation here:http://communications-media.lawyers.com/privacy-law/Photography-or-Video-Taping-Consent.html

DON’T ever, ever offer clients, volunteers, donors or supporters perks or extra benefits in exchange for participating in interviews or social networking.

DON’T use a client’s personal story without written permission and their express understanding of how you plan to use their information.

DO treat others as you would want to be treated. If a photo of you in an awkward position went up on Facebook, how would you feel?

DO be transparent, accountable and honest! One of the biggest criticism’s of the now-famous Kony 2012 video was its’ lack of transparency and accountability with both stakeholders and the public. *Source 3

DO protect confidential details of your nonprofit. Be transparent about your organization WITHOUT compromising confidential details such as employees personal information!

DO be ready to back up anything you post. Remember, people are listening. So if you post or tweet, be ready in case you get a call from the media five seconds later – even if you thought the subject was insignificant!

DO think before you click! Even if you delete a post or update, someone may still have seen an error or mistype. Be particularly careful if you have a personal account AND an organization account – an oops tweet on the wrong account about your night of partying could be a real problem.

DO remember to keep your personal social networking accounts separate from your organization’s account. Don’t “friend” clients or volunteers on your personal accounts. They don’t need to see pictures of what you did last weekend.

DON’T post anything you wouldn’t say (or show) to your grandmother. Even if you have a personal social networking account, remember: this is the internet. NOTHING is really private.

DO respect donors. Some donors wish to remain anonymous. While thanking donors on social media is a valuable tool, verify that each donor is comfortable with the acknowledgement. *Source 2

DO check your facts! Even if you’re reposting or retweeting, make sure it is accurate information! Don’t send your loyal followers to an event that isn’t actually happening! Assume everyone out there is fact-checking every single post you make.

DO acknowledge mistakes. If and when you do make an error on a social media platform, acknowledge and fix the mistake in a timely and open manner.

DON’T post negative comments about a competitor, colleagues, sports teams. . . . or really anyone. You never end up looking like the good guy. So be nice!

DON’T automatically delete a negative comment posted by someone else about your nonprofit! If something negative is being shared, analyze it for credibility. If it is credible, respond to it IMMEDIATELY in an honest, positive fashion to show that you care about what is said concerning your cause, and that some type of action is being taken to improve. *Source 1

DO give credit where credit is due. If you re-use a quote, story, photo or blog, mention where you got it – or even better, link back to it!

DON’T violate copyright laws. Be particularly mindful of this with photos and articles on Pinterest and even Facebook.

DO go with your gut. If your gut is telling you that something feels iffy, refer to your organization’s legal counsel for advice.

Sources:
*1 http://socialmediatoday.com/node/481533
*2 http://www.councilofnonprofits.org/resources/resources-topic/ethics-accountability
*3 http://www.nonprofitcommunity.com/index.php/2012/03/14/in-the-news-authors-speak-out-about-kony-2012/

 

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