February is “love month” at our house. Every day I leave a note or message for my daughter to remind her how much she is loved. We also make it a point to try some new recipes. She loves to cook as much as I do, and food, along with the act of preparing a meal for family and friends, is truly an act of love. From birthdays and holidays, to just a Sunday family dinner night or a small treat to brighten someone’s day, food is an expression of love (and many argue should be the 6th “love language”).
This year, we know many families across our region, and candidly, across the nation, are struggling to afford healthy and nutritious foods due to inflation and the impact it is having on food at the grocery store. With increasing costs for transportation, energy and medical care, food is often the “easiest” to cut from a strained budget. We hear the stories every day from across our own service area from families making impossible choices, and I think it is also appropriate to share that we at the St. Louis Area Foodbank are not immune from the impact of inflation.
We are working tirelessly to continue to provide food to our network of more than 600 partners across the 26 counties that we serve, but the truth is, inflation is hitting us hard as well. We have seen a 16% decrease in food being donated to the Foodbank, and a 20% decrease in food donations through community food drives. We have tried to purchase foods to maintain both the quantities and variety that we have been able to provide to our partners. This was much easier when we had the added benefit of COVID funding and food opportunities, however, these have long since ended, and we simply cannot afford to continue to purchase at the same volumes that we have been for the past year.
Our team continues to seek out new avenues for food donations, and new groups and organizations to conduct food drives to support our network. If you know of a business, farm, manufacturer or distributor who would be willing to donate food to the St. Louis Area Foodbank, we would love to connect with you.
This month, we are launching our first “Food is Love” campaign. This campaign is an effort to inspire our community to show their compassion through a gift that will ensure that those in our community do not have to cut back or go without the basic need of food. We are fortunate to have a donor that pledged $125,000 as a matching gift towards this effort, which means donations will have DOUBLE the impact in February! To me this exemplifies what love is all about.
Every January I receive a note from an elderly woman in Missouri with a handwritten message. She thanks us for what we are doing for others, and includes a simple check for $2.00. I know that her handwritten words, and her gift truly come from her heart. It is all that she can afford to give, yet her gift is genuinely a gift of love. It warms my heart….
My hope is that my message to you might move you to open your heart once again to send in a gift of love, so that we can continue to provide food and love to families across our region this month.