DeniseDenise Daugherty starts her day by loading product onto her truck / Photo by Bethany Prange

Denise Daugherty is a hard-working woman.

As the only woman on the otherwise all-male crew of truck drivers at the St. Louis Area Foodbank, her mornings start with a healthy dose of hot weather and heavy lifting.

Before she can settle into her air-conditioned truck, Denise must first prep and load hundreds of pounds of food.  She will later deliver that food to food pantries throughout Missouri who will make sure it gets into the hands of those who need it most.

On July 6, a particularly steamy day in Missouri, I rode along with Denise as she made her deliveries.  From the very first stop at First Assemblies of God food pantry in St. Clair, Mo., it was clear that Denise is a woman on a mission.

Denise greeted the volunteers at the pantry with friendly conversation before she jumped up to unload the food. Despite the sweltering heat, she worked quickly to help move the bread, meat and other food into the pantry. The volunteers were more than grateful for both the delivery, and Denise’s help.

As she drove along to the next stop – Meramec Community Mission in Sullivan, Mo. – Denise talked about how important her work is. She also acknowledged that since federal commodities have declined, so has the amount of food she is given to deliver to agencies.

“It just isn’t enough to feed them,” Denise worries.

When asked what she likes most about her job, Denise quickly says several things – helping people in need, working with Foodbank staff, and driving her truck.

Without Denise and the rest of the Foodbank drivers, many of our partner agencies would have limited access to the food they need.  Today, more than 60 percent of our agencies have their food delivered while the rest choose to come to the Foodbank to pick it up themselves. In addition, the Foodbank drivers often pick up food donations from stores like Walmart and Save-A-Lot.

In just one day, Denise managed to not just deliver food to families in need, but also bring more food to the Foodbank to be distributed later.

With a remarkable combination of hard work and positive attitude, Denise and her fellow drivers make the work we do here possible.

Bethany Prange is the communications coordinator at the St. Louis Area Foodbank