After returning from an impactful trip to Zimbabwe, former BNI Select Business Source Chapter member Steve Sargent introduced his chapter to an opportunity they never expected. Steve used his presentation time, not to present on his business, but to present an opportunity for the chapter to literally save lives by giving two hours of volunteer time. Sargent found that in keeping with BNI’s Givers Gain® philosophy, chapter members were eager to help.
Steve subsequently launched Feed the Need in 2010 to help feed the hungry in body and spirit locally in New Jersey and around the world. Feed the Need mobilizes thousands of volunteers of all ages who give generously of their time and resources to accomplish this worthy goal. BNI members throughout the state have helped grow Feed the Need to exponential proportions all through word of mouth.
Long-time BNI members Kristy Ball, of L&B Printing, and Lou Tranquilli with Tranquilli Financial, have provided significant assistance. In addition to printing event flyers and posters, Kristy volunteers to help lead Feed the Need’s marketing team, and Lou has been a faithful business sponsor for a number of years.
Through a partnership with Feed My Starving Children, Feed the Need volunteers have purchased and hand packed over four million vitamin-enriched meals scientifically formulated for malnourished bodies. These meals have been distributed through committed distribution partners to those suffering from severe food shortages around the world with a delivery success rate of 99.6%.
While hunger may not be as severe here in the United States as it is in countries where the average wage is one dollar per day or less, the need still exists. Through a partnership with America’s Grow A Row, Feed the Need volunteers meet hunger needs communities that have no access to healthy, fresh, affordable produce and are thus classified as “food deserts”.
Volunteers GROW, GLEAN & GIVE away free fresh produce by organizing groups to plant and harvest on local farms. Additionally, local supermarkets allow volunteers to glean fresh produce that would otherwise be disposed of simply because it is not in pristine condition. To date, nearly four million pounds of produce has been distributed to those in need throughout NJ alone.
When Beth Misner, BNI Foundation’s co-founder, learned of Steve’s efforts, she felt instant recognition that how Feed the Need and the BNI Select Business Source Chapter are collaborating is exactly what the Business Voices awareness movement is all about. Beth and Ivan Misner (BNI’s Founder) have a special, personal passion for helping school children obtain healthy, nutritious fruits and vegetables as a part of their Misner Plan education regarding how important it is to eat real food, not packaged, processed, chemical-laden “fake” food. (Click for more on Dr. Misner’s experience healing from cancer naturally.)
“The young people in these food deserts are often already considered to be ‘at risk,’ and not having enough to eat or not even having access to fresh produce is one more thing that can derail their educational pursuits,” Beth shares.
Throughout the season (mid-July through October), volunteers then deliver the produce grown and gleaned to the food deserts and set up Free Farm Markets. By partnering with charitable organizations in each of these cities, Feed the Need can connect with residents in need of produce and thus help address issues of diabetes, obesity, and other health concerns that are often associated with food desert areas and financial hardship.
These efforts started as small, local initiatives by a couple of families. Please consider what you can do to help Feed The Need by supporting our mission or doing something similar in your area. Perhaps there’s a chapter initiative just waiting to be born here for your members!Dr. John Gray recently filmed a short video with Beth Misner regarding how critical this work is for the youth of these communities: Watch Now.
Register now for a Business Voices Spotlight Webinar featuring Feed the Need to learn more about their work to bring nutritious, healthy produce to kids in the inner cities on April 2, 2015 at 10 Pacific/1 Eastern. Beth and Ivan Misner will be hosting this webinar along with Derrick Boles.