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 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!

Good-to-Go Backpack Program

Feeding Rumbly Tummies over the Weekend

Imagine a backpack, full of food instead of school supplies. There are many children throughout The Foodbank’s service area that receive free or reduced lunches at school. But over the weekend, these same children are at a high risk of going hungry. The Good-to-Go Backpack program addresses the needs of over 1,000 of these children throughout the area.

The Good-to-Go Backpacks include:

  • 1 stable-ready 1% white milk
  • 1 stable-ready chocolate milk
  • 1 canned pasta
  • 1 canned vegetable
  • 1 juice
  • 1 fruit
  • 1 snack
  • 1 fruit snack
  • 1 peanut butter/jelly tube
  • 2 puddings
  • 2 cereals

Backpack with peanut butter

Every weekend, The Foodbank sends 1,400 backpacks to hungry children, to help keep them fed over the weekend. Good-to-Go backpacks are sent home with specifically identified children every Friday throughout the school year. Each backpack is filled with food children can take home and eat over the weekend. The food is kid-friendly, easy-open and easily prepared. No one but the child knows what is in his or her backpack, thus maintaining the dignity of each participant.

Below is a list of the organizations:

  • Boys & Girls Club of Dayton
  • Cleveland PreK-8
  • Dayton Christian Center
  • Dayton Leadership Academy
  • Dixie Elementary (New Lebanon)
  • E.J. Brown PreK-8 School
  • East End Kids Café
  • Fairview Pre-K-8 School
  • John Morrison Elementary (Northridge)
  • Liberty Worship Center Kids Café
  • Louise Troy Pk-3 School
  • Madison Park Elementary (Trotwood Madison )
  • Memorial UCC
  • River’s Edge Montessori PreK-6
  • Saville Elementary School (Mad River Local)
  • Trotwood Early Learning Center (Trotwood Madison)
  • Virginia Stevenson School (Mad River)
  • Wright Elementary (Fairborn)
  • Xenia Community Schools

11-23-2014 Gobbler Gives Bike Tour

Ride a bike and make a difference at Gobbler Gives Bike Tour

Gobbler Gives web banner





Update: Gobbler Gives Bike Tour was a success! Over 30 participants biked 843 pounds of donated food to The Foodbank. Weather was nice and everyone had a great time.

Join The Foodbank Dayton and Tomfoolery Outdoors for a food delivery by bicycle. The Gobbler Gives Bike Tour will celebrate the season of giving with a fun bike ride and food drive. Load up your baskets, backpacks, and trailers with food items and then pedal 17 miles from from the first destination, Adventures on the Great Miami, to the second destination at The Foodbank.

At The Foodbank celebrate with fellow riders as we weigh food, enjoy music, snacks, and warehouse tours. Your load will be a lot lighter as we ride 17 miles back to Adventures on the Great Miami, after dropping off your food. At the finish line, enjoy a sense of pride for giving to those in need and being active! If that isn’t enough, we have live music and organic Turkey legs from Bowman Landes Farm.

Entry fee is $40 per person that includes celebrations at the half way mark and finish line. Food and proceeds benefit The Foodbank Dayton. Online registration closes at noon on November 21. Ride day registration is available for $50. Ride begins at Noon.


Motorcycle riders will have a chance to join the Gobbler Gives Bike Tour with a route that will begin at Adventures on the Great Miami, travel to Buckeye Harley Davidson, and other surprise stops before joining the halfway celebration at The Foodbank Dayton. Motorcycle riders are encouraged to bring donated food items to deliver to the Foodbank on their bikes. All riders will enjoy a finish line celebration with the bicyclists at Adventures on the Great Miami to show we can share the road and all have fun on two wheels.

Registration for motorcycle riders is from 1:15-1:45 pm with ride leaving at 2 pm. On-line registration is $40 and $50 on day of ride! all riders.

“We are so proud to support the Foodbank Dayton with a bike ride that promotes being active during the holiday season and celebrates the spirit of giving with a food drive by bicycle. I can’t wait to see how much food we collect” Tom Helbig, Tomfoolery Outdoors.

Register for the ride at

“We are so excited to see people getting active while making a difference in so many lives. Each dollar raised will provide four meals for those in need and the food delivered with prevent many from going hungry during the holidays!” Lora Davenport, Foodbank Dayton.

Gobbler Gives Bike Tour is a production of Tomfoolery Outdoors. Tomfoolery Outdoors is focused on encouraging people to live an active outdoor lifestyle with a smile on their face. The company mantra is to Live Active, Laugh More and Inspire All.  Learn more at

Adventures on the Great Miami is proud host of the Gobbler Gives Bike Tour. They specialize in canoe/kayak rentals, camping, special events, private gatherings and bicycle friendly activities that remind people everyday is an adventure. Learn more at

The Foodbank Dayton benefits from the Gobbler Gives Bike Tour as a proud recipient of all food donated and proceeds from entry fees. The Foodbank has served as the primary source of food for the hunger relief network in the Miami Valley. The Foodbank– the only one of its kind in the area – nourishes the hunger relief efforts of the community through the acquisition and distribution of food to agencies that feed hungry people throughout Montgomery, Greene and Preble counties. The Foodbank provides the infrastructure for more than 100 member programs that serve as the charitable hunger relief network in the area.

If you would like more information, please contact Tom Helbig at 937-417-2228 or email at

Robert Fennell – 23 Years of Service at The Foodbank

Robert in 1992

Robert Fennell, 1992












In 1992, Robert Fennell walked in to the first day of his new job at The Foodbank (formerly American Red Cross’s Emergency Food Bank). Leaving behind his work as a dump truck driver, Robert was looking for a place where he could both enjoy his work and take care of his family. He happened upon an article in the newspaper looking for a driver for The Foodbank and decided to apply. 23 years later, Robert is still feeding hungry people and working to make a difference in his community. Robert’s favorite part of the job is the people he meets. He enjoys talking with the men and women who work on the docks of the grocery stores who donate product every day and laughing with his coworkers in the warehouse.

Robert now

Robert gives back to his community in other ways too, lending his dog out for first aid trainings with the Red Cross where he received an award for Support Person of the Year, and even once working as a lifeguard at his local pool.

While working at The Foodbank, he was diagnosed with cancer and had to undergo treatment. “Throughout my battles with cancer, The Foodbank has always been there for me, giving me the means necessary to get to my treatments and cheering me on through it all. Days when I went through chemo, I would still come to work because I wanted to be there for my coworkers just as they have been there for me,” said Robert.

Robert was born and raised in Dayton and enjoys a life with his wife Dianne and Harley FXRT motorcycle, which he lovingly calls “Harley Dog”. Robert’s free time is spent riding Harley Dog on country roads and petsitting friends’ dogs.

To commemorate Robert’s years of service to feeding hungry people, The Foodbank recognized him with a Hunger Hero Award.


Barb and Peg Retirement

Barb Wysong

Barb Wysong of Camden FISH

In October, The Foodbank is saying farewell to two amazing women: Barb Wysong and Peg Cannon.

Barb ran Camden FISH food pantry for over 20 years, serving her local community to provide food and support for those who would otherwise go without. She has faithfully led the pantry through its many years in Preble County and is handing the responsibility over to Bev Jarrell.

Since 1998, Peg Cannon has been running Xenia FISH food pantry, serving hungry families in Greene County to provide them with much needed nutrition. Bob Bosl is taking her place.

The Foodbank is so thankful for the many years of hard work and service these two ladies have put in. Our hearts are warmed by the fact that there are people like Barb and Peg who are willing to feed those in need.