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Community Champions: Celebrating Our Volunteers’ Impact Across the States


Beyond MFB: A Volunteer's Compassion 

At Midwest Food Bank, we witness countless acts of kindness from our volunteers every day. One such volunteer, Rosemary, dedicates her time to the bi-weekly food box distribution at her church, St. Matthew's United Methodist. This church operates a food pantry that serves around 50 families every two weeks, providing essential support to those in need.

One of the regular recipients is John Wayne, a veteran living on a fixed income due to a permanent disability. John relies on the food pantry to help manage his rising rent and other expenses. On May 11th, John missed the food pickup, which caught Rosemary's attention. Concerned for his well-being, she reached out to him and discovered that his swollen leg prevented him from driving. Without hesitation, Rosemary delivered John's food box to his home.

"We are blessed by volunteers like Rosemary who pay attention to others to ensure they do not go without," says Merilee Baptiste, MFB Arizona Executive Director. "She is a caring individual who helps throughout the food bank process."

Rosemary's actions exemplify the dedication and compassion that our volunteers bring to their work, making a tangible difference in the lives of those we serve.


Partners in Service: Ryan and Lori serve through Midwest Food Bank  

Ryan and Lori Steidinger have been invaluable Midwest Food Bank volunteers since moving to Punta Gorda, Florida, in 2021. As full-time residents, their commitment and dedication to our mission have made a significant impact.

Ryan plays a crucial role in our operations with his Commercial Driver's License (CDL). He drives the semi-truck for local deliveries and manages central distribution, ensuring that our food supplies reach those in need efficiently and reliably. Ryan handles these responsibilities with care and precision.

Lori has also been an essential part of our team. Until recently, she managed the accounts payable, ensuring our financial operations ran smoothly. Her meticulous work has been critical in maintaining our financial integrity. Although she stepped down from this role, her contributions have left a lasting legacy.

"Lori and Ryan are truly the backbone of MFB Florida," says Tanya Phillips, Programs Manager.

Both Ryan and Lori's volunteer efforts extend beyond their specific roles. Their unwavering support as donors has further strengthened our ability to serve the community. We are deeply grateful for their generosity and continued involvement.

Ryan and Lori remind us of the impact dedicated volunteers can have. They exemplify the core values we strive to uphold daily, and we are honored to have them in our Midwest Food Bank family.


From Classroom to Community: A Dietetic Intern at MFB  

This spring, Midwest Food Bank is delighted to welcome Patience Johnson, a dietetic intern from the Illinois State University Distance Dietetics Internship. With experience in hospitals and schools, Patience joined us to deepen her knowledge of community health and nutrition—a vital part of our mission.

"I wanted to get a different perspective on nutrition, and I knew Midwest Food Bank could provide this," says Patience.

Her ambition doesn't stop at gaining experience; Patience dreams of opening a clinic to offer nutritional advice, especially for those unable to afford a nutritionist. "It would be a nonprofit where individuals could receive guidance for conditions like diabetes at minimal or no cost," she says.

While at Midwest Food Bank, Patience's favorite moments were interacting with diverse people—volunteers, staff, and community members alike. These experiences enriched her internship and enhanced her professional development.

Patience made a significant impact on our operations, particularly through her audit and the addition of a nutritional ranking to our inventory products based on the H.E.R. guidelines (H.E.R. stands for Health, Efficiency, and Responsibility, and refers to rules used to evaluate and rank foods based on nutrition, environmental impact, and ethical production.). Her final presentation provided invaluable insights into food insecurity and the pivotal role of food banks, and included recipes to maximize nutritional benefits from everyday food bank items.

"This internship pushed me in new ways and opened up many doors to meet new people," says Patience.

"Having Patience intern with us was a great joy," says Lisa Martin, Executive Director of Midwest Food Bank. "It was a win-win situation as we learned from each other."

She also highlighted a crucial takeaway from Patience's internship: "There is a great need for education among those who are food insecure, particularly in helping them access nutritious options."

As Patience moves forward to pursue a registered dietician position, possibly at a cancer center or physician's office, she leaves a legacy of compassion and a blueprint for educational outreach that will undoubtedly continue to influence our work.

Outside of her professional pursuits, Patience enjoys working out, engaging in crafts, and spending quality time with her husband and cats.

At Midwest Food Bank, we are inspired by individuals like Patience, who bring their expertise and passion for service to our mission. We are sure she has a bright future and will make an impact in the field of nutrition and community health.

Celebrating Our Heroes at Midwest Food Bank  

In April, Midwest Food Bank Morton celebrated Volunteer Appreciation Week, honoring the invaluable contribution of the hundreds of volunteers who walked through our doors (385 in April alone!). The event featured delightful meals from Brent & Jeanne Reddish and an ice cream bar courtesy of Carius Creamery, brightening a rainy afternoon. Our volunteers are critical in organizing, repackaging, and distributing food. They have created a strong bond with one another and bring a welcome boost to the staff.

To join our family of volunteers, Under the Volunteer tab, click on Volunteer Opportunities, and you'll find openings in Morton. You can also connect with us and our volunteer community on our Midwest Food Bank Morton Facebook group. We eagerly anticipate welcoming you to our team and working together to make a difference. We would love to hear from you and welcome you to the team.


Scott Peper: A Decade of Dedication at Midwest Food Bank  

At Midwest Food Bank in Indiana, the dedication of volunteers like Scott Peper is indispensable. Scott, who has been a part of our team for over a decade, is well known for his preparation for our distribution days. His commitment starts early, often before sunrise, as he arrives at the food bank by 6 a.m. to sort and prepare perishable items. This essential "behind the scenes" effort ensures that our volunteer teams can efficiently serve our community partners throughout the day. After completing his morning tasks, Scott heads off to his full-time job, continuing his day with the same dedication.

Scott's involvement with Midwest Food Bank began shortly after his mother, Jerry, started volunteering at our agency check-in desk. Although Jerry has since retired, her visits continue to be a source of joy and laughter for our team. Scott followed in her footsteps, finding his own place within our organization and expanding his role over the years. His influence extends beyond daily tasks; he has also taken on the role of coordinating group projects on weekends, involving diverse groups such as church members, students, and corporate employees.

"I love the volunteer work we do at Midwest Food Bank," says Scott. "It's gratifying to give back to the community. I feel a sense of accomplishment knowing our work helps those in need."

Lauren Harrison, Volunteer Coordinator at Midwest Food Bank, echoes this sentiment: "We're truly blessed to have Scott on our team. His dedication and spirit inspire both our staff and volunteers. It's volunteers like Scott who make our mission possible."

Scott adds, "The camaraderie during our Saturday projects is palpable. We repackage a lot of food, and I enjoy seeing how much everyone appreciates knowing the impact they have across the state."

Through his quiet diligence and teamwork, Scott Peper continues to significantly impact our operations and the lives of countless individuals across Indiana. His story reminds us of the powerful difference one person can make in their community.


A Dual Force Against Hunger 

At Midwest Food Bank, our volunteers are the foundation of our mission to alleviate hunger. This month, we're highlighting Chris and Al Carr, vital members of our volunteer family who bring passion and dedication to every task they undertake.

About Chris and Al

Chris and Al Carr, who have been married for 17 years, share a passion for golf, martial arts, and UCONN basketball and football. They met while practicing martial arts, where both achieved 4th-degree black belts together. They enjoy skiing and cherish taking nice vacations. Additionally, Chris trains in tae-kwon do, participates in improv as a hobby, and occasionally acts. The couple has five grown children, ages 31 to 39, who are spread across the United States.

Al shares, "I spent 30 years in the packaging industry traveling all over New England, working on packaging equipment and driving trucks. After retiring, I started volunteering at MFB, which quickly turned from once a week to almost daily. I also work part-time at a golf course but still make time for MFB twice a week."

Chris recounts her journey: "I got my law degree and worked as an in-house security lawyer before becoming a Senior vice president for a financial services firm. I am a former welfare mother, and my experience has driven me to give back to a place like MFB, which I wish had been available during my tough times."

Their Roles at MFB

Chris: "I'm the project team leader for evenings and weekends and am helping plan our first-ever golf tournament fundraiser. I also serve during direct food distributions around the Hartford area on Saturdays once a month."

Al: "My number one job here is driving the fork truck. I unload trucks, deliver food, and pick up food. I also help with repairs around the warehouse and count inventory. I'm a weekly volunteer, and once the golf season is over, I'll be back four days a week."

How They Got Started

Chris: "I was the first volunteer here, other than board members. There was a little blurb in the Hartford Current about needing volunteers to wash the walls. I came in, washed the walls, and was so excited to see the space being prepared for such a necessary cause."

Al: "When I first met Brent, our former volunteer manager, we instantly clicked. I loved it here and wanted to help right away. The number of people struggling for food was eye-opening, and I knew I had to be part of this mission."

Why They Volunteer

Chris: "This place utilizes volunteer time really well. When you walk in here, you are needed. At first, I thought I only wanted to work with adults, but then a little brownie troop came in, and I realized it was an opportunity to help shape their view of service."

Al: "I used to bemoan going back to work, but now I miss it when I'm not here! I encourage people to participate in direct distributions. You get to connect with those who are struggling. It humanizes the whole operation."

What They Love About MFB

Chris: "Introducing new people to what we do and giving tours is the best part. People have no idea what happens here until they see it for themselves."

Al: "The people! It's astounding how much need there is, and being part of the team moving a million pounds of food each month is profoundly satisfying."

Final Thoughts

Chris and Al: "It's amazing that there are only three staff members facilitating this operation. Everything here is donated – food, money, and time. We love that. It's inspiring!"

Corey Barrette, MFB Volunteer and Community Relations Manager: "Chris and Al bring not just their time but their entire selves to the work we do. We are thankful for their passionate support of our mission."

Join Our Volunteer Family

Inspired by Chris and Al's story? Join us at Midwest Food Bank and see how your time can make a significant impact. Volunteer today and be part of a community that cares deeply about making a difference. Contact Corey at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to get started.


The Impact of Consistent Volunteerism from Members 1st at Midwest Food Bank 

At Midwest Food Bank Pennsylvania, teamwork powers our mission, with business groups like Members 1st Federal Credit Union playing a pivotal role. Over the past two years, 6-8 volunteers from Members 1st have assisted in our warehouse every third Thursday of the month.

"The consistent support from Members 1st allows us to expand our distribution schedule," says Janice Reinke, MFB Food Procurement & Distribution Manager. "This reliability helps us serve more agency partners effectively."

These volunteers don't just help with distribution. They also perform vital tasks such as repackaging bulk items into family-sized portions and sorting through food donations. Their efforts are crucial in ensuring that food reaches those who need it efficiently and in usable quantities. Additionally, Members 1st is the Presenting Sponsor our MidFest Harvest Celebration, a fall event that combines community engagement with a farmers market to celebrate local agriculture.

"Members 1st is proud to support Midwest Food Bank and their good work supporting more than 200 agency partners," said Sara Firestone, AVP of Community Relations for Members 1st. "Our associates appreciate the opportunity to give back, and we know that our work has a tremendous impact."

Our collaboration with Members 1st demonstrates the power of community and corporate partnerships in tackling food insecurity and supporting over 200 agency partners throughout our region.

"When someone is hungry, everything else seems much more difficult," says Sara. "We're thankful for what Midwest Food Bank does to eliminate hunger in our region."

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