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How Midwest Food Bank Partnerships Are Making a Difference


MFB Florida and Family Health Centers Support LaBelle's Farmworkers

In LaBelle, Florida, extensive fields serve as the workplace for a dedicated community of farmworkers who play a crucial role in supplying our tables with fresh produce. These workers face demanding conditions, including lengthy workdays and unstable job prospects, yet their commitment remains unwavering.

Recently, 140 of these workers were in urgent need of food, and their next opportunity for aid was a week away, creating uncertainty. The Family Health Centers of SWFL, a nonprofit partner of MFB Florida, faced the challenge of providing timely help.

While The Family Health Center of SWFL receives food from MFB at a monthly distribution, this situation required swift action. Midwest Food Bank Florida provided them with vital supplies such as fresh fruits and vegetables, beverages, canned items, cereals, granola, and pasta, aiming to meet the immediate needs of the farm workers. By the day's end, the food had been organized and given out, ensuring no one faced hunger that night.

"MFB is honored to be a partner of Family Health Centers and pleased to support their efforts in the community," says Scot Buss, Marketing and Development Manager of MFB Florida.

The farmworkers expressed deep gratitude as they received the food, thankful for the support that bridged the gap during a critical time. 


Lodebar Church's Ministry and MFB Normal, IL, Fill Plates and Hearts

In Chicago's South Side, a dedicated organization extends its services beyond its congregation, reaching out to the entire community. A collaboration with the Midwest Food Bank has enabled Lodebar Church and Ministries to significantly impact the lives of those in need, especially in an area marked by limited access to nutritious food.

"I love being a servant and able to provide food to the least fortunate because it's a food desert in the area," says Brenda Knox, a leading figure at Lodebar Church and Ministries. "Midwest Food Bank is a God-send and blessing for so many. Without them, we would not be able to do our work!"

The ministry's outreach is extensive, with volunteers, including pastors who bring members from their churches, playing a crucial role in their operations. The collaboration with the 9th District police department is particularly noteworthy, as officers volunteer to help unload donations and deliver food bags to seniors and migrants temporarily housed in police stations. This partnership exemplifies community solidarity, with as many as 10 to 15 volunteers coming together to serve those in need.

One of the most touching aspects of their work is the impact on migrants, who, despite language barriers, find solace and a sense of belonging as they choose their groceries. This initiative also deeply affects single mothers and their children, providing them with vital support. The involvement of the police department, which commends the partnership with faith-based organizations, underscores the collective effort to foster a spirit of kindness and assistance in the community.

"We are blessed to partner with Lodebar Church and Ministries," says Erin Jennings, Agency Coordinator for MFB Normal, IL. "We value their part in bringing our mission to life."

Lodebar Church and Ministries, with the support of Midwest Food Bank, is more than a nonprofit organization; it is a vital lifeline for many on Chicago's South Side. Their work is a testament to the power of community, faith, and partnership in making a tangible difference in people's lives. 


MFB New England partner Gifts of Love Compassionately Serving

At Midwest Food Bank New England, our mission extends beyond just distributing food; it's about empowering community organizations like Gifts of Love to make an even greater impact in the lives of those they serve. Based in Avon, CT, Gifts of Love has been a beacon of hope for the greater Hartford area for over three decades, supporting more than 325 families each month with essential services, including food, clothing, and household items.

Michael Olivieri, the Food Programs Manager at Gifts of Love, appreciates the variety of resources Midwest Food Bank provides, which enriches their pantries and bolsters initiatives like the Senior Food Project and the Weekend Backpack Program for 350 students. Olivieri emphasized the unique atmosphere at MFB New England, saying, "When I come here, the vibe is a sense of giving, with volunteers engaged in a brotherhood. The fact that you do this on a shoestring budget with 95% volunteers speaks volumes about the MFB mission.

It is a privilege to collaborate with dedicated missions like Gifts of Love, neighbors helping neighbors with compassion and respect. Bonnie Zahner, Agency Coordinator at Midwest Food Bank New England, recalls a memorable moment when Olivieri visited for a monthly food distribution. "I still remember the first time Michael came to pick up food at our monthly distribution. He was overwhelmed by the experience of being able to choose countless boxes of food at no cost AND having his vehicle loaded by volunteers while he waited. He walked out of the warehouse with tears in his eyes as he expressed his gratitude."

MFB New England appreciates non-profit partners like Gifts of Love, which compassionately serve those in need. Partnerships like these fuel our efforts to combat food insecurity and support our communities with dignity and respect.


Kapu Africa honors Mrs. Tabitha Mbaya on International Women's Day

On March 8th, International Women's Day, Kapu Africa (Midwest Food Bank East Africa) honored Mrs. Tabitha Mbaya from Quest For Happiness Ministry, a nonprofit partner since 2018. Mrs. Mbaya, widowed in 2021, had embarked on a significant journey with her late husband, Rev Julius Mbaya. Together, they initiated a children's home, Quest For Happiness, in Ruai, Kenya, which has continued to provide for many under Tabitha's leadership.

Their commitment began with a feeding program for orphans and vulnerable children in Ngong, Nairobi, supported by the local church congregation where Rev Julius served. Meant to address immediate needs, this laid the groundwork for their expanded mission. Even after Rev Julius was transferred to another church, the couple was encouraged to keep supporting these children. Responding to what they felt was a divine call, Tabitha retired early from her job to help register and run a Children's Home and school in Ruai instead of settling into a quieter life.

After her husband's death, Tabitha took on the role of the principal Director of the home. Her dedication to the welfare of the children under her care has been evident, as she often shared how their needs for food, clothing, and shelter were met, attributing these provisions to her faith.

Kapu Africa is blessed to support Quest For Happiness Ministry. Our partnership underscores the importance of collective efforts to support the endeavors of individuals like Mrs. Mbaya. On International Women's Day, we acknowledged her contributions and her significant impact on the lives of the children in her care. Our collaboration serves as a resource provision and a foundational support for Tabitha and the transformative work she does at the children's home.

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