Thursday, March 31, 2011

FoodShare Update

Pictured is Ellen Christmas, Second Harvest Program Manager,
Clifton Thompson, past Governor, and Karen Vickberg,
Grand Rapids Food Shelf volunteer.
As of March 30th the Grand Rapids Food Shelf is at 66.5% of the goal of 80,000 with 6,475 pounds and $46,719.00. This week the Women of the Moose, Chapter No. 1378 and the Grand Rapids Moose Lodge No. 2023, made a donation of $1300.00 to the Grand Rapids Food Shelf as a March FoodShare contribution to help feed local families. 

The “Scouting for Food” event took place on Saturday, March 26 resulting in 1,775 pounds of food collected for the Grand Rapids Food Shelf.  Participating in the event were Boy Scout Troop #41, local Girl Scouts and Cub Scout Packs #42 and #51. Boy Scout Troop #41 also made a monetary donation to the food shelf. The Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts food drive efforts will help local families and count towards Minnesota FoodShare March Campaign.

To make your financial contribution, click here. 

Boy Scout Troop #41

Monday, March 21, 2011

From a Food Giant, a Broad Effort to Feed Hungry Children

By ELIZABETH OLSON Published: March 20, 2011
CONAGRA FOODS, whose social cause is ending child hunger, is taking a new approach to raise the issue’s visibility. The company is starting its largest campaign ever, including a television special, to spur more grass-roots involvement to make sure no child goes hungry.
The Omaha-based ConAgra financed a 30-minute program, hosted by Al Roker of the “Today” show on NBC, to tell the stories of American families who, each day, face the question of whether they will have enough to eat. One 8-year-old boy says, “I eat less so my sisters can have another meal.”
“Child hunger is not a problem, it’s a crisis,” Mr. Roker said in an interview, referring to the 17.2 million children the Agriculture Department estimates are at risk of lacking food. In the special, Mr. Roker, along with an NBC correspondent, Natalie Morales, highlights the effects of hunger on children’s ability to learn and complete their education.
To amplify its campaign, called “Child Hunger Ends Here,” ConAgra also is incorporating social media, including bloggers, digital placement and paid advertising to spread information about the increasing prevalence of child hunger and provide consumers with practical suggestions on how to help their communities.
ConAgra is partnering with Feeding America, a group that supplies 200 food banks. The company has contributed 250 million pounds of food to Feeding America, and donates an average of one million meals a month. ConAgra is donating one meal — up to 2.5 million meals — for each eight-digit package code, on specially marked ConAgra brands, that is entered on the campaign Web site,, through August.
The participating brands include Banquet, Chef Boyardee, Healthy Choice, Fresh Mixers, Kid Cuisine, Marie Callender’s and Peter Pan.
“The designation on packages is to alert consumers to the issue,” said AndrĂ© Hawaux, president of consumer foods, a division of ConAgra. The company declined to disclose the overall cost of the campaign, which runs from March through the end of May, but said it would spend 40 percent more than last year’s campaign.
Mr. Hawaux said that the effort was “significantly different this year. We dipped our toe in the water last year, and the response was so supportive, we are now increasing opportunities for people to get involved.” Part of ending child hunger, he said, is overcoming the “stigma that has been attached to the issue over a long time,” which is why the company chose a longer special over shorter commercials.
The 30-minute show, Mr. Roker said, “allows the situation to sink it. The problem doesn’t just zip by in the evening news.”
Vicki Escarra, chief executive of Feeding America, said the number of hungry children was growing because of the weak economy.
“There were about nine million children a year ago, and it has grown to at least 14 million, and an increasing number are from middle-class families,” she said.
While customers will buy products with a portion of the purchase price designated for a cause, Mr. Hawaux said, “they don’t expect to pay more for an item, and they won’t accept shoddy products.”
Even so, corporate-cause marketing, linking a company to a social cause, has been questioned lately. According to a study issued last November, many consumers say that brands support social causes only for publicity and marketing purposes, not because they truly care about the issue.
Brands like Pepsi, Nike and Tide have risen above that bar, the study found. Consumers named these companies, as well as Newman’s Own and Coca-Cola, as corporations that place as much importance on supporting a social cause as they place on profit.
Winning over consumers requires “360-degree authenticity, longstanding involvement and adding purpose to a brand,” said Carol Cone, the managing director for brand and corporate citizenship at Edelman, a public relations agency, which undertook the study.
“It is not about slapping a ribbon on a product any more,” said Ms. Cone, who worked on previous ConAgra child hunger initiatives.
ConAgra’s involvement in ending child hunger dates back almost two decades. The company and its foundation have given $35 million since 1993, including a recent $10 million pledge from the foundation.
“We’re trying to balance between social good and the company,” Mr. Hawaux said. “There is an expectation now that companies do good. But can you overdo it? We are committed, but we are a for-profit enterprise and have business goals we need to meet.”
The child hunger campaign, which was created in-house, is encouraging contributions to Feeding America through a mobile campaign. Texting “FEEDKIDS” to 50555 sends a $10 donation directly to the organization. Each $10 donation helps provide 70 meals to children.
The child hunger television special, which premiered on Saturday on NBC stations in 11 markets, including Chicago, Dallas, Miami and New York, will also be seen in about 200 more cities. Throughout the campaign, consumers can use Twitter, #ChildHungerEndsHere, to comment, ask questions or share stories or photographs.
Also, some 20 bloggers, mostly mothers recruited by ConAgra in various communities nationwide, will use Twitter and other social media like Facebook to share local stories and update their activities. And the company is adding a service day to the campaign. Its 25,000 employees can select a day in April to volunteer to work against child hunger — which, ConAgra says, “is as near as next door, or down the street.”

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Monday, March 14, 2011

Minnesota FoodShare March Campaign Update

It’s Food Share Month: Chapter of Excellence Donates Money to Food Bank

Grand Rapids, MN, March 9, 2011. The Kootasca Chapter of Thrivent Financial earned The Chapter of Excellence for 2010 award for its outstanding work in addressing local community and was honored with $500 which they donated to Second Harvest Food Bank in Grand Rapids. The Chapter appreciates all that the Food Bank does for the people and the area that they serve. It is FoodShare Month when all of the dollars received by the Food Bank count toward their goal of collecting 80,000 combined pounds and dollars for the month.

Thrivent financial members come together to make a difference through charitable and educational outreach, whether the cause is big or small. The Chapter of Excellence award recognizes all individuals of the Kootasca Chapter who joined together to strengthen our communities.

The Kootasca Chapter members held more than 15 events in the area during 2010 to bring people together for fun, education and helping others. For example, the chapter gave supplemental funds to over 10 benefits, hosted a trip to a Twins’ game, held financial workshops, hosted a night at the theatre, and much more.

As a membership organization, Thrivent Financial is focused on meeting its members’ needs around financial security, as well as helping to improve the quality of life in the communities where members live. As a result, Thrivent Financial creates programs to encourage members who in turn help congregations, schools, nonprofits and individuals in need. Each Thrivent Financial member is a member of one of more than 1,300 local chapters nationwide through which he or she can participate in charitable, educational and social activities.

This Kootasca Chapter’s leadership 2011 board includes: Paula Ross, Peg Christensen, Jeff Frazier, Bill Trembath, Barb Tornes, Dale Juntunen, Kristi York, Dennis Jerome, Melanie Anderson, Gail Ross, and Jim Tarbell. The Finanicial Representatives who act as advisors to the Board are: Bob Affeldt, Dan Fiala, Rob Sjostrand, and Ben Weerts.

Thrivent Financial for Lutherans is a not-for-profit, Fortune 500 financial services membership organization helping approximately 2.6 million members achieve financial security and give back to their communities. Thrivent Financial and its affiliates offer a broad range of financial products and services including life insurance, annuities, mutual funds, disability income insurance, bank products and more. As a not-for-profit organization, Thrivent Financial creates and supports national outreach programs and activities that help congregations, schools, charitable organizations and individuals in need. For more information, visit

Thursday, March 3, 2011

The March FoodShare Campaign is Underway!

During the month of March, the Grand Rapids Food Shelf is joining with over 300 food shelves across Minnesota to collect donations of money and food. These donations will support local efforts to help feed people in need and reduce hunger in our community. When congregations, businesses, schools or service clubs participate in the March FoodShare Campaign, the Food Shelf will make sure that the food and funds collected provides hunger assistance for people in our community who need it most.
This year, the theme of the Grand Rapids Food Shelf’s March FoodShare Campaign is “Do You Know the Face of Hunger?” “Yes you do, because one out of nine families in the greater Grand Rapids area turn to the Food Shelf for assistance,” according to Ellen Christmas, Grand Rapids Food Shelf Program Manager. “In order to keep the shelves stocked and meet the need, we count on local support to provide food and hope to many desperate families trying to keep food on the table. Every effort or contribution, large or small, helps us to continue to feed people. March is the time of year we can leverage additional dollars for the food shelf through donations because of the FoodShare Campaign and the Feinstein Challenge,” she added.
In 2010, the Grand Rapids Food Shelf provided food to an average of 783 households each month. That amounts to over 2,000 individuals served, of which 38% were children under the age of 18. Families turn to the food shelf to provide food and meals that would otherwise be skipped or missed altogether.
The Food Shelf distributed close to 256 tons of food during 2010 and much of this work was accomplished with the assistance of volunteers. “Our work could not be as effective as it is without our gracious volunteers and generous support from throughout the entire community,” says Christmas. Every March, Minnesota FoodShare, a program of the Greater Minneapolis Council of Churches, organizes Minnesota's largest food and fund drive for the hungry. FoodShare is a grass-roots driven food and fund drive that raises awareness about hunger in Minnesota where statistics show 1 in 8 children do not have enough food to eat. All food and funds contributed locally stay in the area but are counted towards the statewide goal of 12 million pounds and dollars. The Grand Rapids Food Shelf has set a combined goal of 80,000 pounds and dollars to be collected throughout March.
Christmas encourages the community to help our local food shelf and says “now more than ever the Food Shelf provides an important safety net to those that are hungry, right here in our community. If like us, you feel hunger experienced by our most vulnerable citizens is unacceptable, now is your chance to act and help us reach our March Campaign goal.” Food and cash donations received throughout the month of March will count toward our goal of 80,000.

For more information contact Program Manager, Ellen Christmas at 218.326.4420 or To make an online donation, click here.