Food Bank for the Heartland’s Foodies is an organization of volunteers dedicated to the support of the Food Bank through volunteerism, fundraising and the promotion of community awareness. This close-knit group is committed to the Food Bank’s mission and driven to help those facing food insecurity.
Jayne Timmerman—a CPA by trade—created the Foodies in 2013 after realizing there was a need for it. “I was friends with a Food Bank employee and asked if there was a guild. There was a group of us that volunteered together at the time, and I thought the Food Bank needed a support group. So, five of us got together in a living room one night and the Foodies was formed.
Jayne laughs as she reflects on the group’s original approach of marketing the Foodies. “I went through all my guild books and made index cards, and I literally mailed information to everyone I knew.” Jayne’s efforts paid off—securing 155 members in the first year.
Over the last nine years, the Foodies have been instrumental in helping the Food Bank increase awareness of its mission. Jayne believes it’s because the group’s intent has never wavered. “I had two requirements for this group. It had to be fun, and it had to be engaging for members. I wanted them to actively participate.”
The Foodies host a variety of hands-on activities throughout the year to allow members to make a direct impact. “Whether it’s an online fundraiser or our annual peanut butter and jelly drive, we want people to know their money is going to something important, because it is, it’s feeding people.”
One of the first events the Foodies hosted was “Cocktails & Cans” which has become an annual spring tradition. Attendees enjoy appetizers and beverages while learning about the Food Bank’s operations. Guests also have the opportunity to package food on a volunteer line. Jayne says this fun event is an eye-opening experience for many. “What’s great is that it brings people to the Food Bank. They tour the facility and become familiar with how it all works.”
Jayne learned a lot over the last decade about food insecurity. “What surprised me most was to learn about the working poor. There are people out there who work so hard. And they get a paycheck or two paychecks, and they still can’t make ends meet. I love that the Food Bank is there to support people you wouldn’t necessarily think need it.”
Jayne says she’s most proud of what the group has grown into. “When I first reached out to community members, they weren’t involved with the Food Bank. I was able to introduce them to giving back in a different way. I love that there are new people carrying it on and now it has its own life. The group has taken off and I can’t wait to see where it goes.”
While it has been several years since Jayne has served as the group’s President, she believes it will continue to succeed—and be fruitful for the Food Bank—if it sticks to the original mission. “The main thing is that it’s fun. You want to give people a reason to be a part of it. To come have lunch at the meetings, to pack BackPacks for students, to celebrate the staff with special events. I want it to continue to be hands-on and enjoyable, so members want to keep helping.”
Click here to learn more about the Foodies and become a member.