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The Many Faces of Hunger; We Are More Than Food

February 2016

We Love Our Volunteers!

         Our January blog highlighted the physical, emotional, and mental benefits of volunteering. "Americans who volunteer typically take better care of themselves such as regular visits to the doctor and dentist, getting flu shots, mammograms, PAP smears, cholesterol tests and prostate tests.  The study also found that volunteering was associated with 38 percent fewer nights spent in the hospital."

      The 2015 Volunteer Hours report was recently generated for both Feed My People locations and judging by those numbers, we have some very active, healthy, seniors.  Our regular volunteers are between the age of 62 and 98.  That's not a typo, folks.  But we also have volunteers from local high schools and youth service groups as well as court appointed service workers.  The total combined service hours for 2015 were 78,719.5 hours.  Thank You to all our volunteers because we simply couldn't do this work without each and every one of them.

     The Thanks doesn't stop there.  Our clients routinely tell us how much they appreciate the support as well as the food they receive on their bi-weekly visits.  The grateful thank you from a mother whose toddler gets a lollipop or a special "gift" from the "toy" room.  A very resourceful client who cans fresh vegies from her summer garden and shares with the Feed My People volunteers when she comes to a scheduled visit.  A client, Louise, who scraped together a $5 donation to send with her Thank You note bearing these words, "thanks to whom got my name at Christmas.  May God bless them! The best Christmas I've had since I was a child. This small contribution is only a drip in the bucket for all you give me but it's from my heart."             

What a Difference You Make in the Lives of So ManyThe friendliness and welcoming "hello" of our greeters in the reception area, the concern of their personal client interviewer, the helpfulness of the stock volunteer who delivers the groceries to the waiting area, the stockers and cashiers in the thrift store, all of you, make our clients feel like they are part of a big, caring family.  YOU have a place in our family.

Building Hope for a Better Tomorrow


The Many Faces of Hunger; We Are More Than Food

January 2016

Happy New Year?

It Was Not, For Everyone!  When we reminisce about the post-Christmas December flood of 2015 most of us will talk about the hours spent trying to get from point A to point B which was most likely our homes.  Hour after hour spent crawling at an unbelievable slow pace only to learn that all roads and highways leading in and out of Jefferson County were closed.  After 3 days of an almost constant downpour, the Meramec River could not be contained even with round the clock sandbagging efforts by the highway department and volunteer citizens.  Slowly, the water receded and life, for most of us, returned to normalcy, except for those whose homes were damaged by the aftermath of the river's torment.

     Clean-up is a bear!  Water and raw sewage need to be suctioned out, drywall and carpeting need to be ripped out and replaced.  Mattresses, upholstered furniture, linens, blankets, pillows, towels, and clothes need to be hauled away or burned. Every exposed surface needs to be cleaned and disinfected before any rebuilding can be done.  Clean-up in freezing cold winter weather is a brutally worse than clean-up after spring floods.

     The Feed My People office in High Ridge is experiencing greater than normal calls and requests for assistance.  Now that cleanup efforts are underway the need for buckets, mops, bleach, disinfectant, rubber gloves, and rags is critical.  Once the cleanup and rebuild occurs, the need for blankets, sheets, pillows, kitchen and bathroom towels, and other household items, will be necessary.  Please consider helping us help those in need. Your donations can be brought to either Feed My People location.  Mary Hettenhausen, at our High Ridge office, can be reached Tuesday through Saturday at 636-677-9885 if you would like more information.

     Nothing will ever replace the memories or a family's pictures and "treasures" that were lost. Together we can make this disaster a little more bearable.  

 New Year! New Beginnings!  If your new year's resolutions include meeting new people, making new friends, getting involved in your community, sharing your skills, or doing something that will make a difference in someone else's life, then have we got the place where all those resolutions can be achieved.  Volunteer at Feed My People! 

     More interestingly, a new study suggests that volunteering leads to better health in part because it gives people who volunteer a sense of purpose in life and may lead to better decisions about the use of preventive health care.  There are other health benefits as well; mental, emotional, and physical.

     Americans who volunteer typically take better care of themselves such as regular visits to the doctor and dentist, getting flu shots, mammograms, PAP smears, cholesterol tests and prostate tests.  The study also found that volunteering was associated with 38 percent fewer nights spent in the hospital.

     Sara Konrath, director of the Interdisciplinary Program on Empathy and Altruism Research at the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy and co-author of the study states "What this shows is that volunteers make decisions about their health that are different from non-volunteers. One way to think about this is that when we care for ourselves, in a fundamental way, it allows us to care for others." Konrath further states: "I think doctors should tell people about the health benefits of social activities, including volunteering.  I'm willing to make that suggestion, because at this point I think it would be irresponsible to wait another decade to figure out exactly what happens to your heart when you're volunteering."

     So when our volunteers report that they feel good about volunteering at Feed My People, they really mean it.  You are invited to join our team and have that "feel good" experience too.  Give us a call: Ask for Mary Hettenhausen in High Ridge at 636-677-9885 or Ted West in So. County at 314-631-4900 x 304.  There are so many opportunities at either one of the Feed My People Help Centers or Thrifty Hanger thrift stores, that you'll be glad you made that first phone call. There's a place for you on our team and we're waiting for your call.

Happy New Year! Happy New You!

 

Building Hope for a Better Tomorrow


The Many Faces of Hunger; We Are More Than Food

November 2015

It's That Time of Year, Again!

Planning, cooking, baking, shopping, parties!  The hustle and bustle of the season is once again upon us, even here at Feed My People.  While the food pantry works diligently to package food supplies for our needy clients, the back office is focusing
on how to provide a Happy Thanksgiving and a Merry Christmas for all our clients and their families.  Everyone is invited to help.  Will you help too?
Are you looking for a no-fuss way to reach out to someone less fortunate this season? Consider the Feed My People Adopt A Family or Giving Tree programs.  The Adopt A Family food basket program began many years ago to provide extra food to families during the holiday season.  The tradition continues as we reach out to help even more families each year.  There are great bargains in the stores right now, so picking up extra cans of green beans, applesauce, fruit, tuna, cereal, pasta, canned soups, stews, and meats, will readily fill a basket or bag of much needed items for our clients and their families.  You can add a gift card from a local grocery store chain, purchased at either FMP location, to complete your basket. Your generosity will be greatly appreciated.  For more details, contact either Ted West, deartedw@att.net  or 314-631-4900 at the Lemay office or Mary Hettenhausen, marych46@gmail.com, 636-677-9885 at the High Ridge office.
 
     Our favorite is the Giving Tree Program and here's why.  Starting December 10, each Feed My People location turns a meeting room into a Christmas "store" where clients can choose gifts for their family members, without cost.  All items are unwrapped and range from clothing, outerwear, toys, personal care items, household items, such as dishes, dishtowels, pots and pans, cooking utensils, and a host of items too many to list here. The most sought after items are blankets and electric heaters.  Moms and Dads sort through the boxes of clothing looking for socks, pants, and a new shirt for their little one; a Christmas gift they could not have provided on their own.  Children, with that special gleam of anticipated excitement, shout "that one, mama, that one" as they view the assortment of toys that will make their

Christmas dreams come true.  When you're out shopping this season, perhaps even on Black Friday, please consider giving someone a White Christmas by making an extra purchase and donating to our Giving Tree room.   

         With all the busyness of this season, we often forget to take care of our own needs.  Why not take some time for yourself, and invite your spouse or a group of friends, to a special concert by the American Chamber Chorale, benefitting Feed My People.  Click American Chamber Chorale Benefit Concert to get all the details for their concert on Sunday, December 6.  We look forward to this concert every year as it magically puts us in the Christmas Spirit when we're frantic with so much still to do.  Tickets are available online through the Chorale or at each Feed My People location.  See you there!

     With so much to do in such a short time before the clock ticks away the year 2015, please know how much we at Feed My People appreciate your donations, volunteer time, attendance at our events and your prayers.  You allow us to continue the mission of reaching out to God's children in need.  We take our job seriously and we are so grateful that you choose to walk with us.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Building Hope for a Better Tomorrow


The Many Faces of Hunger; We Are More Than Food

August 2015

Changing Course!

Often when you think you've reached bottom and it doesn't seem like there is any way out of the direst of straights, someone steps in to help you turn the

impossible into the possible.  Feed My People is that "someone" for a huge percentage of our clients.  We love telling our client stories because they are about real people, even though we change the names to protect their identity.

Take Ed, not his real name, a professional African American male working as an attorney in a busy, fast-paced, and demanding profession who turned to drug and alcohol use in order to manage daily stress.  Ed found heroin!  He lost his job, his dignity, and almost his life. He lived on the streets, most of the time high on drugs, was picked up by the police, and spent time in court ordered rehab.  Ed was alive, but he was broke, hungry, and had nowhere to turn.  Feed My People provided clothes, and food, and hope.  If you've ever battled drug or alcohol abuse, you know that Ed will always struggle to control his addiction; and it won't be easy.

The best part about telling FMP stories is that they most often have a happy ending, well, at least a much better ending than when the story began.  Ed's story isn't over, but it is improving.  He recently came to a job fair at FMP, and found employment.  No, not as an attorney, but it's a start to getting his life back on track.  Ed now sees the possible and a brighter tomorrow because FMP offered help and hope.

Interested in helping Feed My People continue the mission of helping others in need? Consider these great ideas…

AMAZON SMILE  You can shop Amazon AND they will donate part of the sale proceeds to Feed My People. Using your same Amazon account, just go to smile.amazon.com and select Feed My People from the list as your charity to receive a portion of the sale.  Then shop the usual amazon way! 

 We thank you for your support!
There is still time to register for this family friendly afternoon at Jefferson Barracks Park.  There will be lots of FUN for everyone and child friendly games for the

kids while you support a very worthy cause.  Use this link to see more information and to register online. MANNA MARCH 2015

FREEDOM FROM HUNGER FOOD DRIVE  Consider organizing a food drive, benefitting Feed My People, at your business, place of work, school, or Church.   You select the date (any time of year), contact us, and we'll provide barrels, posters, and the pick-up afterwards.

Special thanks to Clayton Hanley Insurance Services, Inc., and Weight Watchers of South County for holding two amazing food drives.  You are ROCK STARS!

 VOLUNTEER  Our volunteers sort and bag grocery items in the Food Pantry, display Thrifty Hanger items and assist at check out, are client schedulers or interviewers, drive the FMP trucks picking up and delivering food items, answer phones as the FMP receptionist for the day, help set-up at events.  We love our Volunteers!  If you have a desire to be of service, Feed My People would love to have you volunteer.  Schedule a visit to see how you can help.

Are you a Crafter? Bargain Hunter? In between sizes and looking to fill in your or your child's wardrobe?  Need a gift certificate for that hard to buy for person on your list?  Check out the Thrifty Hanger! Thinking about holiday accessories, tins to store those Homemade

goodies, mugs to hold candies for your favorite teacher, or office pal?  Check out the Thrifty Hanger!  And if you're a Crafter, you won't want to miss our very first, adults' only, DoItYourself event, September 19, 2-4 p.m. at the Lemay FMP location.  It's FREE, but you must register in advance.  Click on DIY for more information.

Building Hope for a Better Tomorrow


Feed My People Garden

The Many Faces of Hunger; We Are More Than Food

June 2015

Healthy Eating = Healthy Aging

Consider the fact that 1 in 7 US Seniors lives in poverty.  Poverty among the elderly is growing. And deep or extreme poverty - defined by the government as a single person earning $5,700 a year or less - has taken a jump that even experts find astonishing.

The Many Faces of Hunger; We Are More Than Food

May 2015

Summer Fun and the Livin' Is Easy!  Or is it?

Summer vacation is upon us and plans are underway for holiday BBQs and getaways.  For low income families, hunger never takes a holiday.  Summer months are even more critical for Feed My People clients with children who are out of school and not receiving free and reduced price school breakfast and lunch.  Summertime leaves children at a severe risk of hunger until school resumes.  I read that statement recently while perusing a newsletter from Operation Food Search, one of the area food banks.  The persistent inquisitor in me led to doing further research on the MO Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) website.  I then considered the school districts where Feed My People clients often reside and put together the following table. 

SCHOOL   % in FREE AND
DISTRICT ENROLLMENT REDUCED PROGRAM
Mehlville 10,633 29.67
Affton 2,065 36.35
Bayless 1,637 65.49
Lindbergh 6,604 15.78
Hancock 1,435 89.38
Valley Park 989 47.72
Rockwood 21,348 14.95
Northwest R1 6,700 38.76

 

The Feed My People Kingston Drive office serves clients with children in the first five school districts while the High Ridge office has families with children in the following three school districts.  Now, let's do the math.  Slightly more than 47% of students in the first five districts listed and 34% of students in the following three school districts participate in the Federal Free and Reduced-Price Program.  An average of 630 children per month benefit from additional food provided by Feed My People.  Greater than two thirds of that number is school aged children.

Most parents of children who are receiving subsidized food in the schools are also receiving SNAP benefits.  And from previous blog articles, we know that food stamps are not enough to cover the needs of a family, let alone a low-income family with children who lose those 2 extra meals a day while in school, during the summer months.  The statement "summertime leaves children at severe risk of hunger" is very real.  Providing well balanced and nutritious meals, an imperative for growing children, becomes a challenge for parents trying to make ends meet.  The dependency upon food pantries is even greater June through August. Click Learn More to see how Feed My People addresses this major concern. 

Concern about the need for providing additional food benefits during the summer months is the motivation behind two of Feed My People's summertime projects.  Children 18 years of age and under can enjoy a nutritious lunch at Feed My People from June 2nd to August 7th , 11:30 to 12:30, Monday through Friday, as part of the City of St. Louis, School's Out Café Summer Food Program.
 

Feed My People will once again in June sponsor the Annual Community Food Drive in conjunction with National Hunger Awareness Month. Volunteers pass out food collection bags in pre-assigned neighborhoods on Saturday morning June 6th and return for pick-up on Saturday morning June 13th.

 

If you've read this blog up to this point, then please consider putting together a group and coming out to help with this event.  Executive co-director, John DeGuire, often remarks, "Just think how many more neighborhoods could be canvassed and how many more needy families could be served if we had more volunteers."  You can make a difference whether a child goes to bed well nourished or hungry.  Collection groups can be fellow employees, Church members, family and friends, your book club, garden club, scout group, baseball team; the possibilities are endless. The meeting point and drop off point on both days is Feed My People's Kingston Drive location.  Register your group to help hungry children stay nourished and fed this summer.  For more information, contact April Gunther, the food drive coordinator, at agnurse@aol.com or call 636-212-1615.  Click HERE for information to share with your volunteer group. All children deserve a summer break free from hunger.

Building Hope for a Better Tomorrow


The Many Faces of Hunger; We are More Than Food.

April 2015

Finding all that food…

How does Feed My People find all that food for its clients? One major source is a food bank.  Food bank, food pantry; what's the difference?  A food bank is a place or warehouse where food items are stored to be redistributed to soup kitchens, food pantries, and homeless shelters.  A food pantry, on the other hand, is where people in need can go to get food. Feed My People (a food pantry), in addition to local food drives benefitting FMP, draws from two local food banks, St. Louis Area Food Bank and Operation Food Search.

The St. Louis Area Food Bank has been feeding people since 1975. Today, they continue to be an organization that relies on the generosity of others to make a difference in the lives of those in need of food assistance. Over the years, they've grown to become the bi-state region's largest non-profit food distribution charity dedicated to feeding those in need located in 26 Missouri and Illinois counties.  Their community impact has grown from 12 million pounds to 35 million pounds of food distributed to those in need last year.

Established in 1981 to address the growing problem of hunger, Operation Food Search (OFS) is a St. Louis food bank that distributes food free of charge helping to feed the poor and hungry. OFS distributes more than 1.5 million pounds of perishable and non-perishable food and household items to 300 food pantries and soup kitchens who offer emergency hunger-relief to nearly 120,000 poor people every single month. Nearly half the recipients are children. The OFS service area includes 30 Illinois and Missouri counties surrounding the City of St. Louis. OFS also increases awareness on issues of hunger and works to eliminate waste in the bi-state region by providing individuals in need with food and other basic necessities to help them alleviate the burden of hunger and its consequences.  OFS reaches out to area grocery stores, bakeries, etc. to secure overage items or items nearing end of shelf life.   

While food pantries rely greatly on the availability of food through these two food banks, there is still a significant amount of food that each pantry needs to receive through private donations in order to meet client needs.  Feed My People relies upon the generosity of churches, organizations, schools, neighborhood associations, etc. to conduct food drives on our behalf.  Summer months typically find food pantries at their lowest level of food reserves, yet the need is ever present.  Hunger doesn't take a holiday! 

We are often asked what kinds of foods are most needed, so we've put together a list with items you might not have thought about but are still greatly needed.  

  • Protein foods: canned chicken, tuna, salmon, stew, chili, and corned beef.
  • Peanut butter and Jelly: a winning duo often in short supply.
  • Pasta and Sauce: the great meal stretcher.
  • Herbs and Spices:  Canned foods are typically very bland and the addition of spices can make them much more palatable, however, food pantries rarely receive these needed items.
  • Baby formula:  Yes, even babies need nourishment.
  • Personal Care items: Diapers, other baby needs, hair care products for adults and children,
  • Razors, soap, lotions, deodorant, toothpaste and brushes, combs, etc. 
  • Dry milk: can be used whenever dairy products are not available
  • Can openers: Not every canned good has a pull top.
  • Dog Food and Cat Food: Pets need to eat, too.
  • Money: Lots of food banks and pantries have relationships with big-corporation donors that sell food, toiletries, and household supplies at a ridiculous cut rate. Your $1 is probably worth closer to $10 when these banks and pantries buy the items themselves.

Also, Feed My People is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations, thus your donation is tax-deductible.

One of the easiest ways to donate food to Feed My People is through our Meal a Month Program.  Simply pick up a yellow bag at either of the Feed My People offices in So. County or High Ridge, MO, or at your participating Church.  Suggestions for meals to feed 1 to 3 persons are included and, when filled, you can drop the bag off at either office or at your Church.  Want to go a step further?  Hold a Food Drive in your neighborhood, place of business, children's schools, or within your circle of friends and family.  Hosting a family reunion or company picnic this year?  Why not make it a food drive too.  Contact us to provide the collection barrels and to arrange for pick-up.  People helping people is a feel good opportunity!

Building Hope for a Better Tomorrow


 

The Many Faces of Hunger; We are More Than Food.

March 2015

Food Assistance

Sandra and John B. and their two children represent typical Feed My People family clients.  Because of employee downsizing in an already underpaid job market, they are part of the poverty level population as defined by the National Census Bureau.  According to the 2010 statistics, 14% of Missouri and 12.6% of Illinois residents fall within poverty levels, up 2% in both states from the 2000 census.  As a result, 1 in 8 people in our area are food insecure. 

While most of our clients already receive food stamps, FMP readily directs those clients to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, (SNAP), who have not begun the application process.  On average, households of 4, with an income of $1,136 per month or less, receive a monthly allotment of $308.  However, did you know that food stamps cannot be used for personal care items such as shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste and brushes, deodorant, feminine hygiene products, toilet paper, tissues, and razor blades, just to name a few?  How far could you stretch feeding your family of 4 for a month on $308 when little is left from your paycheck to cover housing, utilities, transportation, shoes and clothing, medical, and other expenses?  Learn More

Sandra, who stays home to care for their children, ages 2 and 4, and John who is working 2 jobs, depend upon their bimonthly visit to Feed My People and meeting with their volunteer client representative.  They receive enough food for eighteen additional meals each month (breakfast, lunch, and dinner), advice on how to manage their tightly stretched budget, as well as hope that they will survive yet another month.

Feed My People began over 32 years ago with the goal of feeding the poor.  In 2014 alone, the combined Lemay and High Ridge FMP food pantries filled approximately 17,300 food orders that fed approximately 63,500 clients.  Of that number, approximately 16,000 were 18 years of age and under and 6,250 were 60 years of age and older.  A typical FMP family size averages 2.5 persons.  Approximately 93% of our clients have some source of income, with approximately 42% being employed either full time or part time.

Feed My People fills not only the gap in food assistance, but also in those items not allowable through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, (SNAP). The staggering statistics remind us that hunger is very real, perhaps even in our own neighborhood.  Seeing the significant difference we make encourages us to find more ways to offer assistance to our clients beyond the very real need for food.  We'll take a look at those other programs in future articles, but for now, Sandra and John have faced hunger and won.

Interested in helping Feed My People?  Click here to like us on FaceBook and share with your friends. Come to one of our fundraising events by clicking on the Events tab, or, make a donation.  Feeding the hungry takes all of us pulling together.  Your support is greatly appreciated.