“Hunger is a true issue in our community. When you look at the numbers, sick they are hard to fathom. These people are our neighbors, friends, and family.” comments Jeff Baldwin, Media and Public Relations Manager for FeedMore, Inc.
By: J. Chevont’e Alexander
Hunger — a growing problem in America, and in our own backyards and communities.
Hunger is not only a problem for the people it directly affects, but it needs to be a concern for all people. This is an issue that will not fix itself overnight.
The United States Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service defines food insecurity as “limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate and safe foods or limited or uncertain ability to acquire acceptable foods in socially acceptable ways.” Their research indicates that food insecurity is on the rise. In 2008, 14.6 percent of U.S. households fell into the food-insecure category at some point during the year. Nationally, 50 million people, including almost one child in four, struggled last year to get enough to eat. In 2008, nearly 17 million children, or 22.5 percent, lived in households in which food at times was scarce. The problem hits home for the Richmond community as well. One in seven individuals and one in six children in Central Virginia are food insecure and unable to consistently access nutritious food necessary for a healthy life.
FeedMore is the core hunger-relief organization for Central Virginia made up of the Central Virginia Food Bank, Meals on Wheels Serving Central Virginia and the Community Kitchen. FeedMore is working together to feed more, fighting hunger and enhancing lives in our community.
“By providing essential food options to thousands of people in need, FeedMore builds a critical foundation for health and growth. FeedMore’s multi-tiered approach to hunger relief serves people of all ages and targets many gaps in the region.” says Colleen Keller, Vice President of Programs for FeedMore.
The Greater Richmond Chamber’s Business Council has recognized FeedMore as the 2012 Business of the Year Award Winner for Henrico. And, their presence in the Greater Richmond and Central Virginia area is definitely deserving of such an award. Working together to efficiently and effectively fight hunger to enhance lives in our community, the FeedMore programs provide hunger relief to our region’s most vulnerable populations, particularly children, families and seniors.
“Hunger is a true issue in our community. When you look at the numbers, they are hard to fathom. These people are our neighbors, friends, and family.” comments Jeff Baldwin, Media and Public Relations Manager for FeedMore, Inc.
The Mission & Vision of FeedMore
FeedMore’s mission is “to work together to efficiently and effectively fight hunger to enhance lives in our community.”
The Board of Directors of FeedMore adopted this new mission statement at the end of 2008, along with FeedMore’s bold new vision for the future: “that FeedMore will maximize all available resources to ensure that none in our community shall go hungry.”
We Will…improve the quality of life of those in need.
We Will…listen to our clients and respond to their needs with a sense of urgency and respect.
We Will…use our financial and human resources wisely.
We Will…be a national model of excellence, efficiency, diversity, and sustainability.
Supporting the Health & Well-Being of Central Virginia by Driving Away Hunger
FeedMore was created on July 1, 2008 with the merger of the Central Virginia Food Bank and Meals on Wheels Serving Central Virginia. The Central Food Bank started in 1980, and the Meals on Wheels program began in 1967. As the new organization was born, an unprecedented economic downturn brought a challenging combination of limited financial resources for nonprofits across the country, as well as historic increases in demand for services. The FeedMore merger was timely, for by working together, the Food Bank and Meals on Wheels maximized efficiencies and available resources to better serve those in need.
FeedMore serves neighbors in need across Central Virginia’s 31 counties and 5 cities, ranging from rural and suburban to urban localities, an outreach that spans nearly one-third of the state. Through partnerships with business, faith-based, nonprofit, public and other organizations, FeedMore provides essential food options to thousands of people in need, building a critical foundation for health and well-being. Through these critical partnerships with these agencies, FeedMore is helping to provide nourishment to the community. FeedMore’s partners in the community include a network of 350 Food Bank member agencies, 60 Kids Cafe sites, 54 BackPack distributing schools, and 19 Mobile Pantry locations.
From July 2011 through June 2012, FeedMore provided over 15 million meals for more than 225,000 individuals – 13,777,399 meals through its Food Bank and Mobile Pantry, 447,384 meals through its BackPack Program, 505,618 meals through its Kids Cafe and Summer Food Service Programs, 334,489 meals through its Meals on Wheels Program, and an additional 50,110 emergency meals.
“FeedMore provides a valuable service to the food-insecure population in Central VA. FeedMore has many different programs aimed towards different insecure populations such as Meals on Wheels and the Backpack Programs. The organization really has an all-encompassing nature that is unique and incredibly important in serving the community.” comments Candace Martin, a FeedMore volunteer.
FeedMore’s BackPack Program is one of FeedMore’s major initiatives to ensure that children in need have balanced, nutritious food they need to learn and grow.
FeedMore’s Central Virginia Food Bank (CVFB) was established in 1980 by 60 local churches and charities concerned about Central Virginia’s growing hunger and poverty. Today the program continues to provide food and grocery products through an extensive network of partners serving families, adults, seniors and children in need. FeedMore distributes 1.5 million pounds of food monthly and is an affiliate of Feeding America, the Nation’s Food Bank Network.
FeedMore’s Meals on Wheels Serving Central Virginia (MOW) was founded in 1967 on the service ideal of “neighbor helping neighbor.” MOW provides daily, home-delivered meals that are well-balanced, nutritious and appealing to homebound seniors and disabled adults who cannot shop or cook for themselves. MOW’s offers diverse menus customized to the individual’s health status and offers 17 special and therapeutic diets. These include diabetic, no- salt-added, bland, renal, and renal/diabetic meals, as well as texture-modified diets such as soft with chopped meat, diabetic/soft, renal/soft, and pureed. For those with food allergies, as well as cultural or religious food preferences, FeedMore also offers elimination diets including no beef, no fowl, no pork, no eggs, no seafood, no chocolate, and vegetarian. Each month, MOW serves 1,000 homebound elderly and disabled adults in Central Virginia. Meals on Wheels is affiliated with the Meals on Wheels Association of America.
Children’s Programs at FeedMore include the BackPack Program, Kids Cafe, and Summer Food Service Program.
FeedMore’s BackPack Program is one of FeedMore’s major initiatives to ensure that children in need have balanced, nutritious food they need to learn and grow. The concept is simple: children at risk of weekend hunger receive a bag of food that is child-friendly, nutritious, nonperishable, and easy to prepare/eat. Each BackPack offers enough food that children can easily assemble into six healthy meals over the weekend when schools are unable to provide breakfasts or lunches. By partnering with Communities in Schools, school staff, and local school systems, 2,000 chronically hungry children are served weekly – 12,000 meals each weekend. These BackPacks are distributed through the school system—discreetly—each Friday afternoon or before a long holiday weekend.
“Through the BackPack Program, we are changing the future and the face of hunger and food insecurity.” says Baldwin.
FeedMore’s Kids Cafe Program, in operation since December 1997, is a partnership with established afterschool and summer programs. It provides safe places for children to meet role models and to participate in activities designed to enhance their educational, physical, and social development. Kids Cafe sites, located in some of the most impoverished communities in the Richmond and Tri-Cities metro area, provide 3,000 meals each day to children ages five to 17.
In the United States, more than one out of five children lives in a household with food insecurity, which means they do not always know where they will find their next meal. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), 16.7 million children under 18 in the United States live in this condition – unable to consistently access nutritious and adequate amounts of food necessary for a healthy life.
Meals are provided five days a week throughout the school year, and Kids Cafe partners operate structured programs of mentoring, tutoring, cultural enrichment, and social activities. The Kids Cafe provides the nutrition component of these programs. Our Community Kitchen prepares the nutritious and appealing meals, which are delivered to the sites (Boys & Girls Clubs, YMCAs, schools, churches, and others). In order to receive meals, a site must be located in a school zone whose free and reduced meal eligibility is greater than 50 percent.
“Over 14% of the people living in the FeedMore service area are food insecure (down from 15% the previous year). Our approach to hunger relief strives to be increasingly comprehensive and strategic. Strides in data collection and analysis allow us to understand, focus, and measure the need and impact of our services.
Our approach has always involved collaborative localized partnerships—but we now seek also to provide evermore targeted intervention through strategies that focus resources on the neighborhoods and populations whose need is greatest.” comments Colleen Keller, Vice President for Programs at FeedMore.
FeedMore’s Summer Food Service Program ensures that low-income children continue to receive meals when school is not in session by providing free breakfast and lunch meals to summer program sites that serve thousands of local children in need, providing almost 147,000 meals for children over the course of the summer months.
Community Kitchen (CK) was the product of a joint campaign by the CVFB and MOW to build and share a new, state-of-the-art kitchen facility. The Community Kitchen began producing meals for the Kids Cafes in 2007, and then for Meals on Wheels one year later. As the CK staff and volunteers prepare nutritious, dietary-specific meals in the 5,400-square-foot production facility, cost efficiencies and quality are maximized through volume production, shared resources, and dedicated use of fresh and donated foods. Each day, CK prepares an average of 3,000 meals in support of FeedMore’s Meals on Wheels and Children’s Programs.
FeedMore also operates a Mobile Pantry Program that delivers food directly to neighborhoods of high need. Using a specially designed, refrigerated vehicle, FeedMore is able to transport food and serve as an on-site pantry distributing 60,000 pounds of food to 2,500 households each month, providing hunger relief to neighbors who live in areas with limited access to healthy and affordable food options, also known as “food deserts.”
How Can You Help FeedMore?
Did you know that a donation of $25 can provide 125 meals?
Together, we can be the cure for hunger – but this cure requires shared expertise, robust volunteer commitment, generous financial support, access to and distribution of food. The need is huge; more than 200,000 neighbors in our region are food insecure, which means they don’t know the source of their next meal. With community financial, volunteer and food drive support, FeedMore can continue to help children grow strong in mind and body, bring security to families, and provide independence for seniors to continue to live in dignity and good health.
Financial contributions to FeedMore keep the doors open and the comprehensive hunger relief programs operational. Funding also provides FeedMore with the flexibility to leverage food purchases and to replenish critical food categories which is crucial year-round as hunger knows no season. A $50 gift to FeedMore makes a big impact immediately in Central Virginia and can provide more than 200 pounds of food at our Distribution Center, or five weeks of BackPacks, or two full weeks of nutritious home-delivered meals for the homebound, or one month of afterschool Kids Cafe meals for one child.
“We welcome volunteers during the holidays; however, we also have a critical need for volunteers and can accommodate volunteers year round in most of our programs,” says Sudeshna Das Menezes, Director of Volunteer Services for FeedMore.
Volunteers are the backbone of FeedMore, contributing over 139,000 hours last year to fight hunger in Central Virginia. Individual and group contributions of time can bring hunger relief to hundreds, even thousands, of neighbors in need, and the volunteer opportunities are endless at FeedMore. Every day, FeedMore needs volunteers to serve as meal preparers, meal packers, food sorters and shelvers, BackPack packers and drivers, Meals on Wheels delivery drivers, Meals on Wheels packers and loaders, Hunger Hotline referral helpers, and administrative workers.
Food donations make up a critical foundation of our feeding efforts. To help ensure that food is available when and where it is most needed, FeedMore must obtain as much food as possible at little to no cost, which takes the contributions of individuals, groups, and food industry donors, who host food drives, provide food in local drop boxes, and donate products for distribution.
Give A Gift this Holiday Season
“We all have our favorite family dishes that we look forward to and we need to realize that the food insecure population does not always have the opportunity to have their favorite dishes.
Giving a food donation during the holiday season is helping someone provide an important meal for their loved ones.” says Martin.
Why not pick up some extra food items while you are out shopping for your holiday dinners? Giving someone the ability to provide food for their family is significantly more important and more humanitarian. During the holiday season, many of us share a spirit of goodwill and giving.
A holiday gift to FeedMore spreads holiday tidings and provides crucial nourishment to others.
Your contribution helps provide food throughout our region and provides assistance at a critical time of year. Thank you for supporting hunger relief this holiday.
Two easy ways to give this holiday season:
- A holiday donation will bring a foundation of nutrition and the warmth that comes from sharing with others less fortunate.
- FeedMore’s holiday cards give tribute to colleagues, friends, and loved ones while benefitting our feeding programs here in our community.
Your gift will make a big impact – immediately!
$50 can provide:
- More than 200 pounds of food at our Distribution Center;
- Five weeks of BackPacks—food for an entire weekend for one child;
- Two full weeks of nutritious home-delivered meals for the homebound; or
- One month of afterschool Kid’s Cafe meals for one child.
$500 can provide:
- Three months of nutritious, therapeutic, home delivered meals for the homebound;
- One year of BackPacks for one child;
- Nearly one year of Kid’s Cafe and summer meals for one child; or
- More than 2,000 pounds of food at our Distribution Center.
Play your part this holiday season and all year long to help end hunger in your community. The issue of hunger in the world and in our community is real. FeedMore needs your help in continuing the momentum to help end hunger.
For more information on how to get involved, volunteer, hold your own food drive, or to give donations please visit www.feedmore.org or call (804) 521-2500.