Kroger’s Round Up Hunger: An Easy Way to Give

Beginning March 5th, Kroger will give customers the chance to round up their total grocery bill to the nearest dollar. Money raised will benefit The Foodbank of Dayton in local stores.

 

In response to on-going community needs, Kroger is now inviting customers to help bring food to the tables of their hungry neighbors with its Round-Up fundraising campaign, which will be available in all stores beginning Monday, March 5, 2018. Shoppers will now have the option to “round up” their total grocery purchase at the cash register, with 100% of the funds benefiting Kroger Cincinnati/Dayton’s three Ohio-based food bank partners: Freestore Foodbank, Shared Harvest, and The Foodbank.

 

The Foodbank works with food pantries across Montgomery, Greene and Preble counties to feed people who qualify for food assistance. In this service area, nearly 124,000 people struggle to put food on their families’ dinner tables. Funds raised through Kroger’s Round Up Hunger campaign will be used by The Foodbank to provide food to local neighbors in need.

 

Michelle Riley, CEO of The Foodbank, says, “Kroger has been a wonderful partner in all we do. We are excited for this new opportunity as Kroger customers have been so supportive of our efforts in feeding hungry people. One in six individuals living in our community face food insecurity. With Kroger’s support we are able to work toward ensuring that our hungry neighbors in need have access to food to live healthy lives.”

 

“We are very excited to bring this fundraising opportunity to our customers throughout Ohio,” said Erin Rolfes, Corporate Affairs Manager for Kroger’s Cincinnati/Dayton Division. “One in six people in our state struggles with hunger, and Kroger’s Round-Up campaign will help ensure that fewer Ohio families go hungry throughout the year.”


Students Lend a Helping Hand through Holiday Aid

Written by Carla Steiger, Volunteer

The leaves are finally down and frosty mornings are nipping fingers and noses.  Thanksgiving is imminent and the winter holidays are in sight, which means that it is time for Holiday Aid, a yearly massive food drive in the Dayton area that runs from October through December.  Holiday Aid is run by volunteers with a “dedication to engaging kids at a young age to donate to others and create a lifelong commitment to helping those who need a hand,” according to Lora Davenport of The Foodbank, the partnering organization of Holiday aid.  Volunteers who work with the drive include four community philanthropists, a coordinator at every school, and Tobin Brothers Moving and Storage, which picks up and delivers the barrels.   Over the course of time, the company has picked up over two million pounds of food collected by students.

This year, 74 local public and private schools will participate in the drive, which contributes food to The Foodbank.   The schools are located in Dayton, Centerville, Huber Heights, Kettering, Oakwood, Beavercreek, Xenia, and Trotwood and run the gamut from preschools and elementary schools to high schools.

Non-perishable foods are collected in barrels and a record of the pounds accumulated at each site is recorded.   Two trophies are awarded to the schools.  One is the most pounds collected per student, and the other is awarded for the most pounds collected by the entire school.

Barbara Heck has been the Holiday Aid Secretary since 1989.  She is a retired administrative assistant from the Miller-Valentine Group, which houses the food barrels in its warehouse in West Carrollton.

“When I started with Holiday Aid I did not realize how great the need is for the donated food.  The drive has grown steadily over time.  In 1989, there were 26 schools. Since then the program has grown to 75 to 90 schools,” she said.  Seeing the participation of the students is deeply moving to this long-time volunteer.  “Some of the students with a passion to help others are among those that need help themselves,” she stated.

Gary Smiga, who began as a board member in the 1990s, has served as President of Holiday Aid for the last ten years.  For thirty six years, he worked in Centerville as Teacher, Principal, Central Office Administrator, and finally, as Superintendent. He retired in 2009 and became the Executive Director of the Montgomery County College Promise program in 2010. In 2015 he assumed the title of Executive Director of the Dayton-Montgomery County Scholarship Program as well.

Smiga is proud of Centerville’s 100% participation in Holiday Aid from all twelve schools.  “Serving Holiday Aid was an extension of what I tried to do every day as an educator…making a positive difference in a young person’s life.  Holiday Aid would not be the success that it is today without the enthusiastic support of our school children, teachers and staff.  We are pleased to also partner with The Foodbank to make sure that the food that is collected gets to the dinner table of the neediest,” he added.

Megan, a Student Council Officer from Centerville High School, stated, “We always like to promote a culture of compassion by giving back through the Holiday Aid food drive.”  Jackson, another Student Council Officer, seconded that opinion, saying “Doing the Food Drive around Thanksgiving is a great way to get students involved in the idea of giving and sharing with those in need.”

The students do make a huge contribution.  Last year alone, Holiday Aid collected 66,679 pounds of food, which translated into 55,565 meals.

For participating schools, the race is on to top that total this year and bring home the coveted trophies.

 


Coming Soon – Drive Thru Food Pantry

Members of The Foodbank’s Board helped break ground during the ceremony on September 8th

Coming Soon – Drive Thru Food Pantry

Written by Carla Steiger, Foodbank Volunteer

After a period of indecision and gray skies, the sun decided to come out and kiss the groundbreaking ceremony for the new drive-thru food pantry at The Foodbank.   The planned opening of the drive-thru pantry will take place in January of 2018 and will serve the needs of people in the Miami Valley.

A smiling crowd of about sixty people gathered to hear the opening remarks of Foodbank CEO Michelle L. Riley.  The group included donors, community leaders, and volunteers.  Riley’s talk in addition to celebrating the groundbreaking of the drive-thru, covered several topics including the distribution of food from The Foodbank to the victims of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma in Texas and Florida, respectively.  In addition to thanking the many Foodbank sponsors that attended the event, Riley also briefly explained the metrics for measuring hunger in Montgomery County and elsewhere. Several pictures were taken of the attendees donning hard hats and plunging their shovels into a large dirt mound to celebrate the event.

Jeff King, General Manager, Dayton Office, Austin Dicke, Project Manager of Special Projects, and Project Manager Jeff Comer of Ferguson Construction, the company that built the original Foodbank building in 2013, were there to mark the event.  The opening of the pantry drive-thru is a very positive development and “a great opportunity to expand what they do in serving the Dayton, Community,” according to King.  Dicke commented that they really enjoyed working with Michelle Riley in the planning of current building and look forward to working with her on the creation of the addition.

The Foodbank staff was pleased that Walmart Executive Stan Miller was on hand to celebrate the day, since Walmart is a major sponsor of The Foodbank.   Miller, who began his career as an associate in the garden center of the store in Morgantown, West Virginia, is now the Store Manager of the Franklin, Ohio Walmart.

According to Miller, Walmart has partnered with Feeding America for nine years and working with The Foodbank of Dayton fills him with joy.  “I love the reason for this institution.  It’s so simple.  We don’t believe that anyone should go hungry,” he exclaimed.

Kettering teacher, Robb Fogg, and students helped build the aquaponics system

New Aquaponics System

Proud teacher Robb Fogg was at the groundbreaking with a cohort of eight students from Kettering Alternative School Program.  They had just completed an aquaponics system for The Foodbank.   The students explained that the process at its most basic level has the waste from the fish being captured by bacteria and converted into fertilizer for the plants in the system.  The project was conceptualized one year ago, and the proposal to build a system was presented to an enthusiastic Riley.   The students spent several months building the prototype and making adjustments on the black pipe and barrel array according to Riley’s specifications.

The grant to complete the project at the Foodbank was provided by the Ardmore Institute of Health and the Montgomery County Solid Waste District.  Assistance was also provided by University of Dayton engineering professors Dr. Kellie Schneider and Dr. Felix Fernando, stated Fogg.   Justin Moore, an aquaponics professional, helped inspire the students to build a new kind of bio filter for the system.

Robust green lettuce leaves shimmied in the slight breeze and were proof of the success of the endeavor.  According to Fogg, who has been an artist and teacher for ov

Kettering student checks the aquaponics system and the plants it feeds

er 25 years, this was a best case of hands-on learning that combined both engineering and biology.  According to Fogg, “We love to solve real life problems and even now are trying to find ways to improve the system at The Foodbank. We also have already started on a project to help make the products from the aquaponics system be utilized more effectively in our food desert.”


Food Insecurity – Map the Meal Gap 2017

According to Feeding America’s annual report, Map the Meal Gap 2017, Montgomery, Greene, and Preble counties have a 16.8% food insecurity rate compared to the national average of 12.7%.

A household is food insecure if there is not access, at all times, to enough food for an active, healthy life for all household members. Each year, US Department of Agriculture (USDA) measures the extent and severity of food insecurity in households through a nationally representative survey. These statistics are released in a report called Household Food Security in the United States and are based on a measure of food security derived from responses to questions about conditions and behaviors known to characterize households having difficulty meeting basic food needs. Results from this survey were released today by Feeding America through Map the Meal Gap 2017, reporting for 2015.

Key local findings:

  • 1 in 6 people in the Miami Valley don’t know where their next meal is coming from.
  • 1 in 5 children are food insecure locally.

In The Foodbank, Inc.’s service area of Montgomery, Greene, and Preble counties, 123,910 people report food insecurity, 16.8% of the population. Of this number, 36,650 are children under the age of 18; a rate of 22.3%. The rate of food insecurity in the Miami Valley has decreased by only .4% since 2014; less than half a percent.

“Hunger affects the lives of so many people in the Miami Valley and Map the Meal Gap sheds light on just how many are struggling,” said Michelle L. Riley, CEO of The Foodbank. “The Foodbank is continually working to make sure everyone who needs help has access to food.”

Nationally, rates of food insecurity were higher for Households with children headed by a single woman (30.3%) or a single man (22.4%), Households headed by Black, non-Hispanics (21.5%) and Hispanics (19.1%), and Low-income households with incomes below 185% of the poverty threshold (32.8%).

The Map the Meal Gap 2017 interactive map allows policymakers, state agencies, corporate partners and individual advocates to develop integrated strategies to fight hunger on a community level.

A summary of the findings, an interactive map of the United States, and the full report are available at www.feedingamerica.org/mapthegap.


Urban garden takes root at The Foodbank

By Amber Krosel

 

Editor’s note: This guest post has been provided by Dayton personal injury law firm Dyer, Garofalo, Mann, & Schultz, which helps residents in Montgomery County and beyond with legal claims for product liability, nursing home abuse, workers’ compensation, Social Security and disability, and more.

After two years, the community served by The Foodbank in Dayton is really starting to dig into its new urban garden. The 40-bed garden grows fresh fruits and vegetables that are later donated to 23 sites in the tri-county area. Food grown is given to local pantries and shelters at no charge; recipients just have to make at or below 200% of the poverty line to access it.

The garden has come a long way since its small start in milk crates. Now, it’s on a blacktop at The Foodbank property and has its own manager, a master gardener, who helped grow 2,000 pounds of food last year. The most popular offerings have included lettuce, tomatoes, beans, and herbs, but people who benefit from the garden also always love hardy potatoes, while others enjoy more vibrant options, like eggplant and mustard or collard greens.

James Hoffer, Master Gardener, started off as a volunteer 18 months ago at The Foodbank in the original garden and has been working the past six months as the manager in the new space. Gardening was always a passion of his since spending countless hours on his grandparents’ 2-acre plot from the time he was in diapers to growing up learning how to care for the land, animals, and plants that inhabited his World War II veteran grandfather’s garden sanctuary.

Hoffer decided to become a master gardener after inheriting his grandfather’s seed collection when he passed away, some of which had been in the family for over a century.

“I wanted to work in this particular urban garden because of the mission The Foodbank strives toward,” Hoffer said. “The idea of growing food to feed hungry people and sharing the knowledge with others is the most rewarding way I feel I can honor all the lessons I had been taught.”

And Hoffer is spreading that gardening joy through these lessons. A high school group, for instance, is building an aquaponics center for The Foodbank, which helps gets these students out of the classroom and learning more about healthy food and how it helps our residents in need. Other volunteers take part in helping with The Foodbank’s mobile farmers market, which visits places where people with disabilities and seniors live.

Senior hunger is something that is increasing in the area as more baby boomers are retiring, and their retirement funds aren’t able to cover everything. Food stamps, if they receive them at all, don’t cover much of their needs, especially if they have to pay for medicine, housing bills, and anything else that comes along with aging.

And it’s not just seniors that need this help. Nearly 124,000 people in the tri-county area have trouble with hunger, with 36,650 of them being children, according to Feeding America’s Map the Meal Gap. Family hunger also isn’t just about children who are going hungry — oftentimes, local programs will help kids, such as a box given to those in kindergarten through third grade to make sure they don’t go hungry over the weekend, but they only have enough food to help the child.

A lot of pantries out there can help the whole family, and all of us are looking for new ways to better serve them. That’s where the urban garden comes in.

The Foodbank is inviting the community to help grow its urban garden, both its actual crops and its size, eventually. While last year The Foodbank saw 2,600 volunteers, many assisting with the mobile farmers market, we could use much more help in the garden. One of the biggest challenges is getting consistent and knowledgeable volunteers who stick around, Hoffer says, as the garden relies heavily on volunteers to grow the produce.

“While most of them are enthusiastic, including the college students, many have little or no experience. I am always happy to share what I know with beginners, but they are typically only here a few times and we start over with more beginners,” Hoffer said. “Having a core group of consistent volunteers for the growing season would definitely ease some of this challenge in growing the maximum amount of produce in our garden space.”

Hoffer said that while the garden can’t grow year-round, they do use some extension methods to get nine or 10 months of good production. That’s plenty of opportunities to help most of the year.

 

Love the idea of fresh produce and want to try your hand at growing your own? Hoffer offers some tips:

 

  • Join an established urban community garden. You’ll likely find some knowledgeable people who would love to share the lessons they’ve learned along the way.
  • If you decide to grow in your own backyard, start small and only with a few crops. That way, you can expand as your base of knowledge does.
  • Hot tip: You can grow almost any fruit or vegetable in Ohio except for the tropical varieties. Some of the easiest to start with are tomatoes, beans, carrots, lettuce, and peppers.

 

Good luck! And if you’d like to volunteer, visit thefoodbankdayton.org/take-action/.

 


Monthly Food Boxes Now Available for Eligible Seniors

Are you….

60 years of age or older?

A resident of Montgomery or Greene County?

Within the income guidelines below?

 


Commodity Supplemental Food Program!
…then you may be able to receive a monthly box of food from the

 

What is in the monthly box?

Box contents will vary each month but will contain shelf-stable items to make complete meals including: milk products, juices, proteins, cereals, peanut butter or dry beans, grains, vegetables, and fruits.

 

What is required to receive a box?

There is absolutely no cost to be enrolled in this program. Individuals must fill out an application and be accepted to the Commodity Supplemental Food Program. Individuals may only receive a monthly CSFP box from one location. When you apply, you’ll need to provide: (1) Picture Identification, (2) Proof of Age, and (3) Verification of Your Address.

 

What if I cannot pick up my own box every month?

Individuals may appoint up to two people to pick-up their box in case they cannot make it to the pick-up date/location. Home care organizations may serve as an assigned proxy.

 

To receive an application or for further information contact:

 

Michael Shannon, CSFP Program Manager

The Foodbank, Inc.

56 Armor Place, Dayton, OH 45417

937-461-0265 x33   |     mshannon@thefoodbankdayton.org

You can also download and fill out the application found here then mail it in to the address found on the form.


Love Notes from Jennie

When Jennie Freiberger was diagnosed with Fybromyalgia in 2008, she began exploring ways to relieve her stress as it aggravates her condition. Doodling has helped her relax, but she didn’t know what to do with all her drawings. For the past 8 years, she would just throw out her doodles…

Until she learned of The Foodbank’s Good to Go Backpack program! Now she sends in dozens of her doodles every week to help kids in the Dayton area feel loved when they receive their weekend food packs.

In our three-county service area, there are 41,000 children who face food insecurity. Each week, Foodbank volunteers build packs full of food to help sustain the children through the weekend. These packs are then given to schools and agencies, who in turn, give them to children they see have a hunger need. Agency and school staff place them in backpacks when the children are out of the room.

The best part of a packed lunch (besides the treats of course!) is that encouraging note someone cared enough to leave for you. On the roughest, toughest days, sometimes a little reminder that you are special gives that needed boost.

If you’d like to make notes:

  1. Grab a small index card (any design is fine- we use 3×5 but you can use larger if you prefer)
  2. Pick-up your favorite crafting supplies (stickers and markers are our favorites)
  3. Write an encouraging note and decorate it. Our favorite messages are :
    1. You’re fantastic!
    2. Give Peas a Chance!
    3. Reach for the Stars!
  4. Get it to our warehouse so we can pack it in the lunch bags. You can drop it off in person or mail it to us at The Foodbank, ATTN: Backpack Notes, 56 Armor Place, Dayton, Ohio 45417

Limitations

We provide the notes to kids from all backgrounds. Please avoid any political or religious references. We’ve also found that glitter gets stuck to food so if you like the sparkely stuff- try glitter glue so it stays stuck.


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.


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.


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.