March is National Nutrition Month – an annual campaign created by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics where they invite everyone to learn about making informed food choices and developing healthful eating and physical activity habits.

At the St. Louis Area Foodbank, we are laser focused on sourcing healthy and nutritious foods to meet the diverse needs of our communities. Over the past few years, we have invested in strategies to source more fresh produce, proteins, and dairy items – and recently were ranked #1 within our peer group of food banks across the Feeding America network when it comes to greatest percentage of foods sourced that are healthy and nutritious. We have added registered dieticians to our staff who are focused on educating and teaching our team, our partners, and the community at-large about a variety of topics related to nutrition and wellness.

Additionally, we have developed new, innovative programs to focus on the equitable distribution of these healthy and nutritious foods across our entire 26 county service territory. Our Food on the Move program offers a mobile food store for communities that have high rates of food insecurity and limited transportation options. Neighbors can shop and select items as if shopping in a brick-and-mortar store. We have opened 19 School Markets inside area schools that serve families experiencing hunger. These markets offer easy access for students and their families to foods that are kid and family friendly, meeting their needs and preferences. These “Innovative Solutions” were recognized most recently by FOCUS St Louis and we will be recognized at their May awards ceremony for “What’s Right with the Region” as a result.

These steps and evolutions are also seen across our new Strategic Plan – with our new vision as an organization which simply states our goal to create– “A nutritionally secure Missouri and Illinois”. We know that the term “nutritionally secure” might not be universally understood, so we want to take this opportunity to share what that means.

Nutritional security is defined as “a situation that exists when all people, at all times, have physical, social, and economic access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life.

Our mission at the St. Louis Area Foodbank is to nourish people, empower communities and transform systems- all with the lens of ensuring that everyone has access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and food preferences to live an active and healthy life. This means that we are listening to our partners, understanding the unique cultural and dietary needs of our communities, and building new relationships with food producers to raise awareness and access to the very best foods for our community.

We will be sharing more information about our plans and ways you can get involved over the next few months, however, there is no better time than the present to learn how to create healthy habits, shop on a budget and prepare healthy and delicious foods for you and your family! We encourage you to follow us on social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) @stlfoodbank for tips, recipes and fun ways to engage family members of all ages – and cheers to you and a healthier 2022!