It was May 1975 when Al Wiman, a reporter with KMOX-TV – a CBS affiliate in St Louis, produced and aired a week-long news series titled, “Hunger: A St. Louis Emergency.” It the first major step towards raising awareness about the issue of hunger and the alarming number of babies being born in our area with very low birth weights.
Many local agencies came together to donate space, resources, and support to hire our first Executive Director for the newly-formed Food Crisis Network. In the first year, this group of pioneering servant leaders acquired and distributed 52,000 pounds of food to those in need in our community, primarily focusing on young mothers-to-be.
During our 45 years as the community’s response to hunger, a lot has changed – gas is no longer 57 cents a gallon, postage stamps are no longer only 10 cents and the Food Crisis Network has evolved into the St. Louis Area Foodbank. We have expanded beyond the city of St. Louis and now serve and support 26 counties in Missouri and Illinois, distributing over 45 million pounds of food a year to families, children, seniors and veterans all across the region.
While we have grown as an organization, it is important to recognize that we have only been able to grow and better serve our community because of our community. Our volunteers, board of directors, corporate and foundation partners, along with the countless businesses and community groups have given their time, talents and treasures. Over the years, those gifts have afforded us the opportunity to serve the area’s hungry, providing food to those that need it most. For that, I think I speak for everyone at the St. Louis Area Foodbank when I say, “we are humbled and truly grateful.”
As we look ahead to the next 45 years, we have an aggressive Strategic Direction to guide us through our evolution, helping us better meet the needs of the communities we serve. We look to our mission statement of building stronger communities by empowering people with food and hope for guidance and inspiration. In addition to our ongoing food distributions, this past year we launched new pilot programs like our School Food Markets and Community Resource “Block Parties.” These programs give us hope that we can more directly address the root causes of hunger and break cycles of food insecurity for future generations. Through new collaborations, partnerships, and technologies, we are working to ensure that we are getting the right food to the right people at the right place, and at the right time. We are encouraged and excited about these and many other innovative solutions that are going to take even more people from being hungry to being healthy and that’s a win for our whole region.
To everyone that has supported the Foodbank during the past 45 years, thank you. We simply cannot do this work without you. For those who are thinking about supporting us, now is the time to do it! Join us as we challenge one another every day to work together in new ways, and to create a stronger, healthier bi-state region, where no one goes to bed hungry.