By: David M. Foster, CFP®, CAP®
Hello everyone, and welcome to the very first episode of the Gateway Giving Podcast! My guest on today’s podcast is Mary Kitley, the Vice President of Philanthropy & Marketing for the St. Louis Area Food Bank. As you are no doubt aware, the coronavirus pandemic has made access to basic necessities a real struggle for 100s of millions of people and families all around the world, and certainly the St. Louis area is no exception. As a result, food pantries have seen unprecedented demand for their services. We have some light at the end of the tunnel now that there are multiple effective COVID vaccines that will be distributed around the world in the coming months, but even after the coronavirus is gone, or mostly gone, the economic devastation the pandemic has wrought will likely take years to heal. With all that in mind, I wanted my first guest on this podcast to be a representative of an organization that was serving a crucial need during the pandemic, and, since the focus of this podcast is going to be maximizing the impact of your charitable donations, one that was serving that need in an exceptionally efficient manner.
If you listen to the end, you will hear Mary go into great detail about how the foodbank operates, who it serves, why SNAP benefits aren’t sufficient to meet people’s needs, the challenges of navigating the pandemic, and what she’s most optimistic about going forward. However, if you only take 3 things from this conversation, I want them to be these 3 things: 1) there are roughly 560K people in the St. louis area who are currently experiencing food insecurity, 2) roughly 70% of the people utilizing the food bank’s services right now are doing so for the first time in their lives, and 3) because the food bank has such tremendous buying power, it only costs them 25 cents to buy a meal. Let me say that last one again; because the food bank has such tremendous buying power, it only costs them 25 cents to buy a meal! So, by all means, donate spare cans that you have in your pantry that you’re never going to use, but, if you care about making the greatest possible impact, as good as it might feel to give physical donations of food, your dollars will go so much further if you let the food bank do the food purchasing for you.
And so, with that, I hope you enjoy my interview with Mary Kitley of the St. Louis Area Food Bank!