Ending hunger

Mission | January 26, 2017

We are halfway there.

And by “we,” the people at River Bend Foodbank mean the community. St. Paul partners with River Bend in a couple of ways, including at the Madison Marketplace food pantry. The food bank is working to increase its capacity to 22 million meals a year.

In 2016, the foodbank provided 11 million meals.

In 2015, 9.9 million.

In 2014, 7.3 million.

“We don’t want to just end hunger on average,” said Mike Miller, executive director of River Bend. “We want to end hunger.”

First, some background on and a few facts about River Bend.

What is a food bank?

River Bend Foodbank is a non-profit organization that collects and distributes food to hunger relief charities. Food comes from various sources in the food industry, like grocery stores and wholesalers, that have thousands of pounds of food to give away – food that would otherwise be thrown away.

Who does it serve?

River Bend is the largest hunger relief organization in eastern Iowa and western Illinois. River Bend warehouses the food, and with help from volunteers, sorts, packs, and redistributes it to the community.It works with 300 agencies, in addition to its own initiatives, such as mobile pantries, senior pantries, and backpack program.

In its 22-county service area:

  • More than 125,000 people are food insecure—they don’t know where their next meal is coming from.
  • 22 million meals are being missed, not by choice.
  • 1 in 8 adults are missing meals, not by choice.
  • 1 in 5 children (46,070) are missing meals, not by choice.
  • 63% of these people are choosing between medical care and food.
  • 62% of these people are choosing between housing and food.
  • 81% of these people choose the cheapest food available regardless of its nutritional value.
  • 40% of these people water down their food to stretch their food supply.


To achieve the growth, River Bend is working hard to increase its capacity with more efficient systems and practices in receiving, storing, and distributing the food, Mike said. It involves carefully and creatively examining a variety of operations – including inventories, computer systems, truck routes, and the like – to ensure best practices.

For example, the food bank is working to secure all food that is usable but cannot be sold or used from manufacturers, retail stores, and distribution centers. For a grocery store, this involves things like putting perishable items in a freezer before its “donate by” date (Mike uses that phrase rather than expiration date), and River Bend coming to pick it up to distribute. For non-perishable food, they ask that businesses and individuals donate the food that is past the “donate by” date, as many items can be used well past that time. They have an extensive database that tells them for exactly how long.

Another example is the modernization of the system that agencies use to order food, Mike said. The system is now real-time, which means it shows exactly what the bank has available at any given time. Agency orders (like St. Paul’s) are then printed in a way that allows food bank workers to use the most efficient route through the warehouse to assemble the order and ready it for pick up.

The food bank also is tracking hunger in each of its 22 counties to determine where the most need is. The most underserved right now is Scott County, Mike said.

What can individuals do?

Commit to never throwing away food, Mike said. If no one in this region threw away food, the goal of ending hunger could immediately be met.

If your grocery store has a buy one, get one sale, donate the extra one. St. Paul, for example, has an area near the central coat rack area where food can be dropped off.

Get a group together and go sort food at the food bank.

“I have no doubt that we will meet this goal,” Mike said. “I was drawn to this community because it is a realistic goal to end hunger here. This community is completely capable of that.”



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Isaiah 53:4-12

4Surely our griefs He Himself bore,

And our sorrows He carried;

Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken,

Smitten of God, and afflicted.

5But He was pierced through for our transgressions,

He was crushed for our iniquities;

The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him,

And by His scourging we are healed.

6All of us like sheep have gone astray,

Each of us has turned to his own way;

But the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all

To fall on Him.

7He was oppressed and He was afflicted,

Yet He did not open His mouth;

Like a lamb that is led to slaughter,

And like a sheep that is silent before its shearers,

So He did not open His mouth.

8By oppression and judgment He was taken away;

And as for His generation, who considered

That He was cut off out of the land of the living

For the transgression of my people, to whom the stroke was due?

9His grave was assigned with wicked men,

Yet He was with a rich man in His death,

Because He had done no violence,

Nor was there any deceit in His mouth.

10But the LORD was pleased

To crush Him, putting Him to grief;

If He would render Himself as a guilt offering,

He will see His offspring,

He will prolong His days,

And the good pleasure of the LORD will prosper in His hand.

11As a result of the anguish of His soul,

He will see it and be satisfied;

By His knowledge the Righteous One,

My Servant, will justify the many,

As He will bear their iniquities.

12Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great,

And He will divide the booty with the strong;

Because He poured out Himself to death,

And was numbered with the transgressors;

Yet He Himself bore the sin of many,

And interceded for the transgressors.

Psalm 91:9-16

9For you have made the LORD, my refuge,

Even the Most High, your dwelling place.

10No evil will befall you,

Nor will any plague come near your tent.

11For He will give His angels charge concerning you,

To guard you in all your ways.

12They will bear you up in their hands,

That you do not strike your foot against a stone.

13You will tread upon the lion and cobra,

The young lion and the serpent you will trample down.

14“Because he has loved Me, therefore I will deliver him;

I will set him securely on high, because he has known My name.

15“He will call upon Me, and I will answer him;

I will be with him in trouble;

I will rescue him and honor him.

16“With a long life I will satisfy him

And let him see My salvation.”

Hebrews 5:1-10

The Perfect High Priest

1For every high priest taken from among men is appointed on behalf of men in things pertaining to God, in order to offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins;2he can deal gently with the ignorant and misguided, since he himself also is beset with weakness;3and because of it he is obligated to offer sacrifices for sins, as for the people, so also for himself.4And no one takes the honor to himself, but receives it when he is called by God, even as Aaron was.

5So also Christ did not glorify Himself so as to become a high priest, but He who said to Him,



6just as He says also in another passage,



7In the days of His flesh, He offered up both prayers and supplications with loud crying and tears to the One able to save Him from death, and He was heard because of His piety.8Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered.9And having been made perfect, He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation,10being designated by God as a high priest according to the order of Melchizedek.

Mark 10:35-45

35James and John, the two sons of Zebedee, *came up to Jesus, saying, “Teacher, we want You to do for us whatever we ask of You.”36And He said to them, “What do you want Me to do for you?”37They said to Him, “Grant that we may sit, one on Your right and one on Your left, in Your glory.”38But Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?”39They said to Him, “We are able.” And Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink you shall drink; and you shall be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized.40“But to sit on My right or on My left, this is not Mine to give; but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.”

41Hearing this, the ten began to feel indignant with James and John.42Calling them to Himself, Jesus *said to them, “You know that those who are recognized as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them; and their great men exercise authority over them.43“But it is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant;44and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be slave of all.45“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

Bartimaeus Receives His Sight