Sister Joan Klaas at St. Agatha Food Pantry / Photo by Bethany Prange
My job at the Foodbank revolves around our partner agencies. We work with more than 500 food pantries, soup kitchens, emergency shelters and senior centers who distribute food to people in need in 26 counties in Missouri and Illinois.
I monitor and train the leaders of these agencies and help them do what they do best – feed hungry families in our communities.
As familiar as I am with these agencies, when asked to identify an outstanding agency, I struggle to choose just one.
Our agencies are as varied as the clients they serve.
We partner with many pantries who distribute their food from cramped closets in church basements, while others have storerooms as spacious as a grocery store.
We have agencies in every zip code of St. Louis city, and some so rural they are literally located in cow pastures.
Despite differences in location, capacity and resources, I see outstanding agencies that all keep the same thing first in their mind – the client.
Outstanding agencies provide families with food, and do so with respect and dignity.
Outstanding agencies allow clients to have a choice in the very personal decision of the food they eat, and the food they choose to feed their children.
Outstanding agencies accommodate clients, with staff and volunteers who are willing to sacrifice nights and weekends at home with family to serve their neighbors.
Outstanding agencies collaborate to provide clients with the best possible assistance.
Outstanding agencies reach out to the community, and find the struggling individuals who need help but didn’t know where to turn.
These agencies continually impress me. Without their hard work and compassion, we would not be able to carry out our mission. I am proud to work with them. It is my honor to help these agencies stand out.
Sara Lewis is an agency relations coordinator for the St. Louis Area Foodbank.