EMC Gives Back – A day with FeedMore.Org


#RVA Local?  Don’t miss Zest Fest Gala (Feb 28th) hosted by FeedMore.org

EMC has a wonderful program we call “EMC Gives Back” which takes crusty old business-hardened individuals like myself and tells them its ok to not have your iPhone glued to your hand and calendar memorized for at least one day. It sounds silly, but you know where I’m coming from. Though I work endlessly without reference to a clock, I have an internal drive to constantly contribute. The contribution is ok, but this program helps people like myself to re-adjust the focus and add more targets for my value-add. In this case non-profits.  Since I have started supporting EMC Gives back, I have actually increased my volunteering across the board, and which has been as rewarding for me as my sweat equity is for others. To finish my prologue… I’ll say “thanks EMC”.

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EMC Corporate chose to focus on water security last spring and summer, and food security this fall and winter. The EMC office in Richmond, VA took this to heart and has scheduled several afternoon sessions at FeedMore.org .  This high energy group is organized by Gina Moore and Mike Blow, two courageous do-gooders I’d say. I am appreciative of their efforts to organize the team.

Well next week TEAM EMC/Richmond is heading over for our second installment of can-slinging in the food distribution warehouse, but I unfortunately will be traveling during the visit. I was not going to let that keep me down… I decided to take things into my own hands. If you’ve followed my past blogs, you know my daughter is in a program called “SERVE” at Virginia Tech, and she is still in town for break. It was an easy pitch for me to get her to join me on a little afternoon adventure. We both headed to FeedMore.

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So let me tell you a little about FeedMore’s history.  FeedMore is a “giving tree” who’s roots started in the 1980’s. Rising hunger concerned the local community and 60 non-profits/charities came together to form the “Central Virginia Food Bank” (CVFB). CVFB was named “Best Food Bank in the Nation” in 1998 and continues to be a leader program for the nation. In 2008 a powerful move was made to consolidate CVFB with Meals on Wheels and to create a Community Kitchen as an enabler of nutritional health in the community. This innovative merger has been recognized as a national model for driving collaboration into the fight for food security.

Interesting FeedMore Stats:                                                                                            (stats from FeedMore.org website and through conversations at facility)

– Aprox. 22 million pounds of food has been processed and served to the community through this network, based in Central VA. (4 million through the specific facility I was in)

– 83,000 pounds of food is distributed every day

– FeedMore supports 31 counties in Central Virginia.

– Major contributors include the Boy Scouts, and major grocery chains like  Wal-Mart and Kroger.

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I was in impressed on many levels. I was surprised to see how big an operation this was. Its a small army of volunteers everyday that makes this work. Let’s also point out the goodness of the major grocery chains. These companies go to a notable effort to take slightly old and astetically damaged product and get it to FeedMore in great shape. I saw a couple examples where they went to the trouble to reprint labels so the product could be used. Many of these contributors additionally do a matching program in $ which is a huge benefit. I guess you could say we all pay a couple pennies more for our food, but it is great to know all the tons of damaged food gets repurposed. This is a Karma booster for us all.

It was also interesting to hear that the Boy Scouts “canned food drive” is so large it takes them from late fall to early summer to process it all.  This brings up a good point for you to know. These distribution centers across the country take a period of  time to process contributions. I am sure many of us give more around Thanksgiving and Christmas, however those contributions don’t hit the streets until January.  We should start our food contributions in September through the holidays…

So what’s the worst thing about FeedMore’s distribution center? They have a high standard of quality!! They required me to look at every little “BEST BUY BEFORE” date on every can and every package… Do you know how small those #($*&%! dates are??   Though I was a little dizzy by the end, I survived; and the  crew we adopted kicked butt. We cleaned out the room with a few minutes to spare and we were told we were an exceptional crew (they may tell everyone that, who knows…)

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I didn’t make any new lifetime friends and I only towed the line for just one afternoon, but I made a difference to somebody. Its newly acquired wisdom that tells me the small gifts given frequently are the most important. As for work, I believe I came back to work a little more energized, and ready to contribute. These are truly win-win scenarios.

“It takes more that one feather for a bird to fly… Feather your wings and soar.”                       

#RVA Local?  Don’t miss Zest Fest Gala (Feb 28th) hosted by FeedMore.org

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FOOD SECURITY – Nutrition Shouldn’t Be A Luxury…


“If its ORANGE below, click on it! its a link”

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Today, I joined my daughter and her friends for a community project. They are part of a service group at Virginia Tech called SERVE  They had driven down from the mountains to do a weekend of service around Richmond. Before they headed back this afternoon, I decided to join them for their last project. The goal was to weed and clear out two garden beds at a local school.  For this project, they were joined by a representative from Shalom Farms in Goochland, Va. Based on reviewing their website, Shalom Farm’s mission is to grow produce for underserved communities and to provide experiential learning to help children and adults gain the know-how to grow organic food. Shalom partners with this school to train their students on organic gardening and nutrition science.

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The school where we met today is a local non-profit middle school located in inner-city Richmond, VA. This private school focuses on providing a better education to children in this challenged neighborhood. The school sits on the same block as the largest public housing facility in Richmond. This neighborhood is comprised of people who struggle for time, resources and safety for their families. Forget that many of the adults in this community work multiple jobs to support their families, the crime index for this area is 107% higher than that of Virginia as a whole; Violent crime is 263% higher. If you live within this housing community, you have a 1 in 15 chance of being impacted by crime. A family of five has the odds working against them.

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The reality of these statistics, lead to compounding problems. This neighborhood is a “food desert”. There are no grocery stores within miles and many rely solely on walking or buses for transportation. The result is that most do their shopping from convenience stores and children are often deprived of basic nutritional staples.

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The NoKidHungry website states that “1 in 5 kids in America struggle with hunger” [the new term is “food security”]. This is not only a global crisis, but deeply effects every American city. Nutrition makes a difference in our societal success in foundational ways. The website goes on to state the fact: “On average, students who eat school breakfast earn 17.5% higher math scores, attend more days of school, and are 20% more likely to graduate.

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So our role today was small, we spent a couple hours helping clear the garden beds for next years planting. An extremely small price to pay to help, and to appreciate the daily challenge of living “food insecure“.

As most of you know, I work at EMC and you may have read my work with#EMCGIVESBACK last spring as we worked to fund a water well for charity:water. As we go into the fall the theme will be coincidentally “food security”. I look forward to working with EMC’s programs to drive impact in this area.

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I can feed my kids, one of them is a #HOKIE and today I worked with her to help others “get the goods” they need to go to college themselves. Think about that the next time you bite down on a carrot, or get mad at yourself for eating an extra slice of provolone.