Happy New Year! Now that might not make much sense since it is only July, but for the St. Louis Area Foodbank our new fiscal year began on July 1st – and we have a lot to look forward to in the upcoming year.

While we are not blind to the challenges that our region, and our Nation face – we also are hopeful and optimistic about the future, because we know what this community is capable of – and we are ready.

Over the past few months, we have slowly been releasing more about our new strategic plan, and how we see ourselves both leading in our community, as well as leaning in to collaborate with other businesses and non-profit organizations to support our 26-county service territory in the future.

Our vision is simple: A nutritionally secure Missouri and Illinois. We will always be our region’s response to hunger and will work with our incredible network of partner agencies and program partners to provide help to anyone who might be struggling. We also know that “just providing food” will not be the actions that transform our region. We are laser focused on systems change, nutrition education, sourcing healthy and culturally tailored foods for our diverse communities, providing resources to change trajectories and lives, and focusing on root causes of hunger, thereby transforming the lives of individuals and families struggling with food insecurity, and creating a brighter, nutritionally secure future for everyone.

We also know that to truly focus on nutritional security and food security for everyone, we need a laser focus on equity and breaking down barriers to access. From expanding our Food on the Move program to launching new partnerships with farmer’s markets, expanding our food drive program to extending our hours to add more services on nights and weekends to meet people where we are, the Foodbank is listening – and learning how to be the very best partner in each of the communities we serve, and we are grateful for the opportunity to serve with so many incredible groups and individuals, all working to make a lasting difference in their neighborhoods.

Building stronger communities takes uniting communities to put the unique needs of the people we serve at the epicenter of our conversations and decisions. This also means ensuring that everyone has a seat at the table – so we are working to build bigger tables.

In addition to our exciting plans for the future, we are also working together to openly discuss innovative, collaborative solutions as we tackle the major challenges of ongoing COVID surges and inflation is certainly top of mind, as these issues are hitting us all. Our food costs are up over 14% and transportation costs are up over 20% – and the number of people we see seeking food assistance is also continuing to rise. These situations are real, and they are adversely affecting us all, however, I have seen this team defy the odds and excel in the face of adversity. We are creative, we are resilient, and our steadfast commitment to our community and our partners is unequalled. We will get through this, together.

The St. Louis Area Foodbank is committed to finding solutions to complex situations. We are committed to providing leadership and insight to facilitate collaborative conversations and outcomes in our region. And we will work tirelessly to continue to create a pathway to nutritional security for everyone – permanently. If you would like to learn more about how you and your company, community or organization can join us please visit our website at: stlfoodbank.org