History of the St. Louis Area Foodbank

1975 – Food Crisis Network is Formed

In response to a growing number of low-birth weight babies born in the region, St. Louis-area religious organizations, private and public social service agencies, food pantries, businesses and other advocacy group joined together to form the Food Crisis Network, which would later become the St. Louis Area Foodbank.

1979 – Joined Second Harvest (Now Feeding America)

Food Crisis Network is one of the first food banks in the country to join and help form Second Harvest (now Feeding America) – the national food bank network that works with food manufacturers to collect surplus food and coordinate its delivery to member food banks.

1980 – Serving 150+ Area Agencies

By 1980, nearly 150 area agencies were receiving food distributions. That number would continue to grow, to 200 partner agencies in 1985, 250 agencies in 1990 and 311 agencies in 1995. We currently partner with more than 500 agencies on both sides of the Mississippi River – in 14 counties in Missouri and 12 in Illinois – in both urban and rural communities. Our partner agencies include food pantries, shelters, soup kitchens and other emergency feeding programs.

1982 – Began Distributing Missouri USDA

We are selected to begin distributing Missouri USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) commodities through The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) providing us a source of meats and vegetables – both essential components of a well-balanced diet.

1985 – St. Louis Area Foodbank

 In 1985, the Catholic Charities Food Bank Program and the Food Crisis Network merge to form the St. Louis Area Foodbank. 

First Annual Scouting For Food – This year also marked the first annual “Scouting for Food” campaign with the Greater St. Louis Area Council, Boy Scouts of America. This food drive originated in St. Louis and would become the model for what is now a national annual effort sponsored by the Boy Scouts of America across the United States. 

First Refrigerated Truck – We purchased our first refrigerated truck through a grant from McDonnell Douglas. Today, the majority of the food we pick-up from retail stores is perishable and all 13 of our trucks have refrigeration capabilities.

1986 – Purchased 37,000 – Square-Foot Facility

Having distributed 2 million pounds of food in 1985, the St. Louis Area Foodbank purchases a building at 5959 St. Louis Avenue. This 37,000-square-foot facility would serve as a distribution center for the Foodbank until 2007.

1992 – Stamp Out Hunger

Branch 343 of the National Association of Letter Carriers begins holding an annual community-wide food drive and quickly becomes the second largest food drive for the Foodbank – behind only Scouting for Food.

1995 – Began Distributing Illinois USDA

Begin distributing Illinois USDA commodities through the Emergency Food Program (EFP).

2000 – 25th Anniversary

Facing a growing need for food storage and space for volunteer activities, the St. Louis Area Foodbank leases a building in St. Louis County as its “Repackaging Center.”

2002 – Missouri Commodity Supplemental Food Program

We are selected as the first food bank in Missouri to distribute commodities to eligible seniors in need through the federal Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP).

2003 – First Annual Taste of the NFL

The St. Louis Area Foodbank teams with the St. Louis Rams for the first annual Taste of the NFL event, raising $40,000 for the organization.

2006 – 193,000 People Served

Mathematica Policy Research releases “Hunger in America 2006” and finds the St. Louis Area Foodbank network serves more than 193,000 people each year through 382 partner agencies.

2007 – 94,000 Square Foot Distribution Center

The St. Louis Area Foodbank moves into a 94,000-square-foot distribution center at 70 Corporate Woods Drive in the Earth City Business District and launches the “Fighting Hunger, Feeding Hope” capital campaign.

Food Fair Rapid Distribution Program
The St. Louis Area Foodbank begins our Food Fair rapid distribution program in order to reach rural communities with little to no access to hunger relief. Each Food Fair distributes 25,000 pounds of food to more than 200 families in need.

2008 – Retail Pick-Up Project

St. Louis Area Foodbank creates a retail store pick-up project with Sam’s Club and serves a pilot program. Project success creates a national program with Sam’s Club.

2009 – Illinois Commodity Supplemental Food Program

We are selected as the first food bank in Illinois to distribute commodities to eligible seniors in need through the federal Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP).

2010 – Hunger in America 2010

Mathematica Policy Research releases “Hunger in America 2010” and finds the St. Louis Area Foodbank network serves more than 261,000 people each year through 478 partner agencies.

Fresh Fruits and Vegetables – The St. Louis Area Foodbank distributes more than 2.9 million pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables. Mobile Markets are added to our rapid distribution programs, ensuring quick inventory turnover of fresh produce.

2011 – Paid Off New Building

The St. Louis Area Foodbank satisfies debt owed on our building at 70 Corporate Woods Drive. Retiring the debt allowed the organization to use the additional funds to bring in, store, and distribute more food. Distribution increased by nearly 10 million pounds from 2011 to 2013.

We distribute more than 25 million pounds of food for the first time in our history.

2012 – 16,000 Volunteers

More than 16,000 volunteers spend over 44,000 hours at the Foodbank repackaging food for distribution to our partner agencies.

First school-based food pantry – The St. Louis Area Foodbank opens our first school-based food pantry in Jennings School District.

Environmental Stewardship Award – The Foodbank is recognized with an Environmental Stewardship Award by Orion Energy Systems for replacing all the lighting in our warehouse with energy-efficient fixtures. The lighting project is one of many efforts, including solar panels on our roof and upgrades to our HVAC system, designed to improve efficiencies and reduce costs in order to bring in more food to the area.

2014 – Hunger in America 2014

Feeding America releases “Hunger In America 2014” and finds the St. Louis Area Foodbank network serves more than 392,000 people each year through 507 partner agencies.

2015 – Community Support Helps Provide 30 Million Meals

Support from the community exceeds $5 million for the first time, helping the organization provide more than 30 million meals for our neighbors in need.

2016 – Hunger Engagement Center Completed

Completed construction on a building addition project known as the Hunger Engagement Center – a multi-functional and fully-flexible learning and meeting space designed to engage the community in the Foodbank’s mission.

2017 – Rock Out Hunger

The Foodbank holds the first “Rock Out Hunger” event at Chesterfield Amphitheater. It has grown to become our largest fundraising event.

2018 – SNAP Works

Through the organization’s SNAP outreach efforts, Foodbank staff help get more than 1,000 SNAP applications processed in our service territory for the first time in our history. SNAP (formally known as  Food Stamps) is a vital safety net program that nationally provides 9 meals for every meal provided by a Feeding America food bank.

2019 – Breakfast Beyond the Bell

Through partnership with Bayer’s philanthropic arm, The Monsanto Fund, the Foodbank pilots the “Breakfast Beyond the Bell” program in the Cahokia, IL School District to provide 1,000 students with a nutritious start to their day.

2020 – 45 Years of Service to the Bi-State Region

In the midst of the COVID-19 Pandemic, the St. Louis Area Foodbank reaffirmed its commitment to the community with the Hunger + Health initiative with Anthem that connects at-risk populations with nutritious food, healthcare resource, and education.

2021 – Food on the Move

Launched Food on the Move Program, a 28 Foot trailer that has been transformed into a mobile food pantry, to increase accessibility and bring nutritious items to the communities that have limited to non-existent food sources.

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