Snack Back Our Streets

The UnitStarted by Dayton based community-focused fitness group called The Unit, Dayton police will have the chance to build positive relationships with youth within the communities they protect and serve with Snack Back Our Streets. The Unit is collecting donations of food to create bags of snacks for officers to distribute to youth in the neighborhoods in which they work.

Snack Back Our Streets is a program created through the identification of the need to strengthen the relationship between local Dayton police officers and the youth (13 & under) within the communities that they protect and serve. The community is encouraged to collect and donate healthy nonperishable snacks which will then be made into bags. Officers are then encouraged to distribute the bags to youth encountered in the community in hopes to engage a positive interaction that can later transition into a long-term relationship.

Allison Scott, team leader of Snack Back our Streets says, “Snack Back Our Streets challenges Dayton community members and officers to take ownership and accountability of restoring trust, safety, and security in our neighborhoods. With this said, our program strongly encourages community participation through the collection and donation of non-perishable food items. Snack Back Our Streets understands the importance of allowing the members of our community to be the catalyst for change.”

Michelle L. Riley, CEO of The Foodbank says, “With 41,230 hungry children under the age of 18 in the Miami Valley, Snack Back Our Streets is a great way to reach out to those in need. Many youth go home every night to an empty fridge. With the bag of healthy snacks provided by the police, not only will it help fill the bellies of those who are in need, but it also creates a great opportunity for a change in how neighborhoods and police interact with each other. We support our police officers and look forward to helping facilitate this relationship.”

Snack Back Our Streets will begin in Dayton Police’s 3rd and 5th Districts. To find a donation collection point, email daytontheunit@gmail.com or call (937)532-0169. Donations can include, but are not limited to, fruit snacks, granola bars, beef jerky, juice boxes etc.

My Kids Come First

I found Tim slowly eating a pastry as he waited for his turn to shop at his local pantry. “I found out about the pantry from going to a church service here,” Tim mentioned. “I live in a poor neighborhood and most people know about this pantry. The people who run it are good people and they care about us.”

Tim lost his job two months ago and is struggling to make ends meet. Bills have been piling up as he’s looked for another job to support himself and his two young children. “I haven’t eaten in two days. Any food I’ve gotten, I give to them. I hate to see them hungry.”

The pantry Tim attends has been a lifesaver. While he has applied for food stamps, he’s still waiting to hear back on whether he will receive any. “I’m so thankful for this pantry. They provide so much to this community and I don’t even want to think about where I would be if it weren’t for their help.”

You can help single parents like Tim by donating to The Foodbank and making sure food stays on dinner tables of families who are struggling in the Miami Valley.dad with child and ice cream cone

Food Insecurity – Map the Meal Gap 2015

The Foodbank, Inc. announced the release of the annual Map the Meal Gap study, which details the startling rate of food insecurity experienced by community members in Montgomery, Greene, and Preble counties.  Map the Meal Gap 2015 reveals that food insecurity affects the most vulnerable populations in the Miami Valley, including 24.7 percent (41,230) of children.

Food insecurity is the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s measure of lack of access at times to enough food for an active, healthy life for all household members.

“At The Foodbank, we are constantly working to provide up to date solutions for the Miami Valley community that we serve,” said Michelle L. Riley, CEO of The Foodbank. “Findings from Map the Meal Gap 2015 helps hunger-relief organizations like ours better quantify the economic issues that so many of our neighbors deal with.”

130,200 Miami Valley residents report food insecurity in the results from Map the Meal Gap 2015; this is an increase of 4,500 more people from 2014. Additionally, 41,230 of those reporting food insecurity this year are children, which is an increase of 1,840 from last year.

Map the Meal Gap 2015 is based on an analysis of statistics collected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Census Bureau, and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2013, the most recent year for which data is available. The study, commissioned by Feeding America, is a detailed analysis of the nation’s food insecurity. An interactive map is available that allows viewers to explore the issue of hunger in Dayton and across the country. The map can be found at map.feedingamerica.org.

Map the Meal Gap 2015 provides unique insight into the prevalence of food insecurity in each county and congressional district in our nation,” said Bob Aiken, CEO of Feeding America. “It will help policy makers and our elected officials understand the challenges they face in addressing hunger in the communities they serve.”

The study is supported by the Founding Sponsor Howard G. Buffett Foundation as well as the ConAgra Foods Foundation and Nielsen. The food price data and analysis was provided by Nielsen (NYSE: NLSN), a global provider of information and insights. The lead researcher is Dr. Craig Gundersen, professor of Agricultural and Consumer Economics at the University of Illinois, executive director of the National Soybean Research Laboratory and member of Feeding America’s Technical Advisory Group.

County and congressional district food-insecurity details and the full report are available at map.feedingamerica.org.

Life is Good! Jackie’s Story

DSCN0164Jacquelyn Stevenson (Jackie) is an active woman full of joy. At age 61 she always has a happy disposition and feels that “life is good!” Sitting on the front pew of the food pantry at Living Hope Church you would never know she has difficulties providing for herself and is disabled. Food stamps do not provide enough support to feed her the entire month. She views the services provided by the food pantry as a blessing. “I am grateful for whatever products I receive; Even if I received potatoes and croissants that would be great.” She believes that people who receive products from the food pantry and The Foodbank should “give thanks for what they give you.” Originally, she heard about the food pantry from former coworkers. One of these coworkers runs and organizes the food pantry.  As a woman of strong faith and conviction she feels blessed and believes in touching people’s lives in a positive way and “hopes people see Christ in me.”

Individuals such as Jackie who benefit from the food they receive from the food pantry are very thankful. The food pantry provides them with encouragement and inspiration. The kindness they receive from those working in the pantry is seen on the smiling faces of those that volunteer to serve those in our community.  Seniors aged 60 and over are particularly vulnerable to health implications of food security compared to other adult age groups. Your donations help ensure that elderly individuals such as Jackie don’t have to worry about not having food to eat.

If you would like to make a donation to help feed people like Jackie, click here.

Until I Get Back on My Feet

40 year old womanAmy was waiting outside her local food pantry 15 minutes before it opened. “I found out about the pantry from someone at the job center,” she mentioned. “I applied for food stamps and was turned down. I really didn’t have anywhere else to turn.”

Amy’s husband lost his job last May and she lost hers in October. While she has been able to find part-time work, her pay barely covers the family’s bills. Many months after paying the mortgage, electricity, and water bill there is nothing left to buy other necessities, like food.

Many families, like Amy’s, rely on food pantries when times get tough.

Amy is currently looking for a job as nursing assistant. She looks forward to the day when her family is able to get back on their feet and even give back as a volunteer at the food pantry. Until then, Amy knows she can rely on her local food pantry and The Foodbank to get the foods her family needs.

Miamisburg Helping Hands Food Pantry

Interview by: Carla Steiger

Don AllenDon Allen, 79, is a dynamo.  He works tirelessly for the Miamisburg Helping Hands Food Pantry which will celebrate its 50th anniversary this year. It’s one of 88 member agencies that The Foodbank supplies.

“The Helping Hands Food Pantry is set up like a business. There are 16 board members, a President, a Vice-President, Food Distribution Manager and receptionists,” he explained.  “12 churches throughout Miamisburg staff Helping Hands.  Each church is assigned a once-a-year monthly responsibility to staff the pantry,” he added.

Don Allen volunteers as Operations Manager where he oversees the day-to-day operations of the pantry.  “Our biggest responsibility is to have food to distribute to clients and getting the best price on food that we do buy,” he said.  “We get our food from The Foodbank in Dayton, donations, and from time to time we purchase food from stores.  Kroger and Aldi’s are the two big ones.  At Kroger we buy milk and eggs,” he said.  Whenever possible, farmers from the Miamisburg area pitch in and make donations as well.”

He said that he has seen an increase in the number of families served by the pantry.  “We serve an average of 325 families, but in November we had 360 families come in,” he stated. Helping Hands is open Monday from 6 – 8 pm, Wednesday and Friday from 2 – 4 pm. The pantry is also open on the last Saturday of the month from 10 – 12 pm.

Don’s work as a volunteer for Miamisburg Helping Hands came after a long and successful career. Retirement from GM in 1992 gave him the freedom to start his own remodeling firm, which he did until 2010.  “Basically, I had to give it up for medical reasons. I have vision problems and heart issues and now have a pacemaker,” he explained.  Although he no longer does it as a business, Don can make just about anything out of wood including “furniture, kitchen cabinets, wall units, recipe boxes, and many other things!”

Yet, woodwork was just not enough to satisfy him. As a man used to being actively engaged in the world, he found restrictions bothersome. “I didn’t want to sit around. I wanted to have something to do,” he stated energetically.  “I told a neighbor, Barbara Standifer who is now the pantry’s President, about my need to do more. She told me about The Foodbank and suggested that I visit Helping Hands to see what I could do. I did, and I have been there 3 ½ years,” he said as he grinned.

“We work very, very diligently to folks in the Miamisburg community. “Working with everyone at The Foodbank is fantastic.  I couldn’t ask for the opportunity to work with nicer people.  They go above and beyond for us,” he said gratefully.  It is a partnership that is sure to last for a very long time.

DPL Energy Resources raised $31,617 to say “Thank You” to its customers and the community

DPLER_Foodbank-check-presentation(LR)Inspired by the holiday season, DPL Energy Resources wanted to find a creative way to say “thank you” to its customers. They decided to give back to their hometown community by sponsoring a matching campaign with us at The Foodbank. We have been a long-standing partner with DPL, and we were happy to partner with them to administer this campaign. Thanks to the generosity of DPL Energy Resources customers, and a matching donation from the company, we were able to raise $ 31,617 dollars, enough to deliver 126,468 meals for local families.

DPL Energy Resources customers along with the general public were invited to donate money in support of The Foodbank and the 88 food pantries, soup kitchens, and shelters we serve in a tri-county area. DPL Energy Resources matched donations (up to a total of $10,000) from November 21 through December 15 of 2014. A $10 donation provided 80 meals to the hungry in Montgomery, Greene, and Preble counties.

Over the years the face of hunger has changed. Families rely on their local pantries to put food on the table while parents work two or three part time jobs to pay the bills and keep a roof over their heads.

“DPL Energy Resources is truly a Hunger Hero,” says Michelle Riley, CEO of The Foodbank. “We could not do this important work if not for the support that they provide. With 125,700 people who don’t always know if they will be able to put food on the family table, The Foodbank relies on the support of the community as we work towards our mission of feeding hungry people throughout the Miami Valley. We are so thankful for the support of everyone who gave and for DPL Energy Resources for matching the heartfelt donations of our donors.”

“We were amazed at the generosity our customers showed with this campaign,” said Daniel Schilens, President of DPL Energy Resources. “DPL Energy Resources is proud to give back to our hometown community, and glad to be able to say ‘thank you’ in a way that will help so many neighbors and families.”

DPL Energy Resources is Dayton’s hometown retail electric provider, serving the needs of 285,000 residential and commercial electricity customers in Ohio and Illinois. DPL Energy Resources has been providing customers with smart energy strategies and generation services at a competitive market-based cost since 2001. Learn more at dplenergy.com. Follow DPL Energy Resources on Twitter @DPL_Energy.

Agency Spotlight: Xenia FISH Food Pantry

Interviewed by: Carla Steiger

The Xenia FISH Pantry began meeting emergency food needs in the wake of the 1974 Xenia tornado.  Xenia FISH was founded by local Episcopal women and is sponsored by the Xenia Area Association of Churches.  The FISH Pantry is a voluntary non-profit organization.

After walking down the long hallway past other social service offices, the first things one encounters when walking into the doorway at Xenia FISH PANTRY are smiles and goodwill.  The office staff and warehouse workers are genuinely pleased to be there to serve the people who are in need.  Bare concrete floors, fluorescent lighting, rough wooden shelving and cramped office spaces make up the décor of the pantry, yet no one seems to mind or even notice.  They have but one purpose in mind and that is to help others.

Incoming Board President Bob Bosl is outgoing and passionate. He and Dan Frevert were eager to tell the story of the day-to-day operations of the pantry.  Bosl was formerly the Manager of Human Resources at NCR for 33 years and has been involved with FISH PANTRY for twelve years.   Dan Frevert, a twelve-year veteran of the organization, is another FISH PANTRY board member. He oversees the daily operations at the facility with patience and skill. Part of that job is teaching staff how to enter data in the computer that uses software specially designed for The Foodbank.  His previous career was in the Division of Wildlife Management in the Bureau of Fish and Wildlife, where he retired after 33 years.

Bosl stated that, “We service the Xenia area and Fairborn.  We have about 40 families a day, approximately 200 people a week.”  Their clients encompass people “from 1 year-old to 75 years-old,” according to Frevert.

Save for fees paid to a certified public accountant who files income tax returns, all the workers are strictly volunteers and are paid “zero,” according to Bosl.  The Greeneworks Employment and Training Center provides skilled workers in the warehouse and those doing the myriad of paperwork helps individuals get food stamps and help with heating along with job training.

“One lady works 120 hours a month, and after about a year, they have to leave the program and get another job.  We hate to see them go because they really learn to do the job.  They gain basic skills,” he said.

Clients are allowed to come in once every month.  They show identification, but do not need to show other kinds of need qualification.  Each person is treated with warmth and dignity when they arrive to register for their food allotment.  Upon registering, each individual receives a number and waits patiently in the hall, to be called in for their selection of food.

On Thursdays, a truck comes from The Foodbank and food is sorted and shelved according to type.  There is a wide array of canned food, including vegetables, fruits, soups, pork and beans, and spaghetti sauce.  The dry foods range from pasta, beans, raisins, milk, cereal, macaroni and cheese, biscuit mix, instant potatoes to peanut butter.  Single-serving meals and protein rich food such as beef stew are very popular.  Farmer donated fresh eggs and meat, such as chicken are valued by the clients as well, stated Frevert.  Periodically bread and pastries are delivered from Kroger, which are a big hit.  Clients receive bags that each contain a distribution of all the food groups on hand at the time.

2014-11 Xenia FISH BobandDan

Bob Bosl and Dan Frevert of Xenia FISH work hard to serve those who are in need in Xenia

Monday through Friday the flow of goods in and out of the Xenia FISH PANTRY continues with the help of its small army of volunteers.  Local people will always be on hand to help their neighbors in this small, but mighty organization. The need for food never ends and so the beat goes on.

Volunteer Spotlight: Susan Zurcher

Interviewed by: Carla Steiger

Susan Zurcher, 69, is not one to sit still.  She likes working at The Foodbank because sorting food that comes in barrels to the warehouse is an active job.  She finds that the three hours per week she spends there are satisfying.  Susan stated, “I really like doing this straightforward job which helps people directly.”  Even a recent knee replacement surgery in April and frequent physical therapy has not held her back from pitching in.  She has been with The Foodbank for six months and feels that her work here is a good balance with her other volunteer job at Dayton History at Carillon Park archives where she volunteers 6 hours aweek.

Susan frequently travels around the world, taking in the sights and sounds of each new place she visits. In a recent trip to Madagascar, she was deeply struck with the level of poverty she saw everywhere.  “It wasn’t comfortable to be there as a privileged person, when people all around me had so little,” she said. This strengthened her belief, even more, that she wanted to help people in her own community receive access to their most basic of needs; food.

Recently retired, Susan spoke fondly of her days working for the City of Dayton Television Network, where she spent 14 years covering “groundbreakings, city commission meetings, ribbon cuttings and  police awards. We produced shows of special interest to citizens – just all different kinds of things that were City Hall related.” She said, “A very few of us did all the jobs.”

Her background also includes creating and editing Discover, a weekly, 4-page newsletter for Catholic primary school children when she worked for the Pflaum Publishing Company in the early 1970s.  When she was with the City of Dayton City Beautiful Council in the mid-seventies, Zurcher had the opportunity to photograph nationally-known sculptors who were creating temporary works downtown.

From that experience came an interest in art so strong that she quit her job to pursue her dream full-time.  Always fearless about new endeavors she said, “I rented a studio and created large scale sculptures that were composed of branches wrapped in wire.”  The Putnam Sculpture Collection at Case Western Reserve University describes her as a feminist “photographer, performance artist, and sculptor” whose wire and wood work, “resemble three dimensional drawings, and are meditations on the relationship between nature and technology.”

Zurcher’s interests also include non-fiction reading, both in book form and on audio recordings. Additionally, she is passionate about her participation in the Sacred Harp, Shape Note vocal group that sings at the Lutheran Church of Our Savior in Oakwood on a monthly basis.  Her eyes sparkle when she talks about it. The music was born from a 200 year-old American musical tradition that consists of a community of singers of all levels of expertise uniting to sing four-part hymns and anthems.

The balance of Susan’s work at The Foodbank and her musical involvement combine to give fulfillment to this terrifically talented, dynamic and intelligent woman.

Employee Excellence at Its Best

Spotlight on Lizz Kelly, Volunteer Manager

Lizz Kelly joined The Foodbank just a year and a half ago, but has already made a huge splash. Lizz has accomplished a lot in her short tenure, increasing the number of volunteers, voluLiz awardnteer time, and volunteer retention. We would like to congratulate Lizz for winning the Volunteer Administrator of the Year Award, presented by MVAVA (Miami Valley Association of Volunteer Administrators). One of our own volunteers went out of his way to nominate and write a recommendation letter. This dedication shows how much Lizz puts in to each and every volunteer. She makes them feel welcome and special!  Lizz is very deserving of this award and we would like to thank Lizz for being a dedicated and delightful employee who brings a smile to all of our volunteers!