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Local Companies Feed Hungry Children as Community Outreach

August 3, 2011

      Community involvement is a growing business trend that increases morale and strengthens corporate reputations while helping those in need, according to several CEOs now involved in MUST Ministries. Companies are finding their outreach beneficial to both the employee perception of the company and the public’s perception, but those are simply offshoots of the real focus: feeding hungry children.

Sixteen summers ago, MUST began asking the community to make sandwiches and pack sack lunches for local children who were hungry. The young students normally ate free and reduced breakfast and lunch at school. During the summer break, children are often left with no food while their parents are gone Monday – Friday working minimum wage jobs. In Cobb County alone, for instance, 46,000 children are on the free or reduced lunch program. MUST arrives in low-income housing areas with a van full of sack lunches and often brings books and toys to help the children through a difficult summer.

“We believe so much in the work MUST does,” said Dan Styf, Vice President, Regional and Marketing Strategy of Kaiser Permanente. “Because of how effective we think MUST and the Summer Lunch Program are, we hope other companies will take advantage of this opportunity as well.” MUST needs 180,000 sack lunches as the program has expanded this year from serving Cobb and Cherokee counties to new territories in North Fulton, Gwinnett and Paulding.

“Our company has a two-fold mission: to improve the quality and affordability of healthcare for our members and to improve the healthcare of our communities. We couldn’t find a better partner to fulfill this mission.” Kaiser is involved in both the KSU Community Health Clinic at MUST and the Summer Lunch Program.

“MUST brings together the volunteers to donate the food and deliver it. They create the environment to serve. Most companies want to help, but don’t know how. That may be one of the things MUST does so much better that any organization we’ve partnered with… to provide the environment to serve,” Styfe explained. Kaiser has also made a significant financial donation to help underwrite the outreach.

David Thompson, CEO of Thompson Technologies, agrees and is also involved with his 200 employees. He says his favorite part is delivering the lunches. He enjoys seeing the children run out to the van, smiling and excited about their daily meal. He knows that without MUST, there would be a lot of hungry children in our area.

The technical staffing and recruiting firm has made sandwiches, packed lunches and delivered them. “We hope other companies will think about getting involved. Everyone wants to help hungry children and we can do it right here in our own neighborhoods,” he said. “It’s an easy thing to do with a big impact.”

Other companies helping this massive outreach include The Home Depot, LGE Credit Union and United Distributors. Many area employees have gotten involved personally too. Their families and friends are making sandwiches and serving the lunches to help the children and put new meaning into their summers.

MUST has organized distribution centers in numerous locations in the five county service area where sandwiches and sack lunches are brought to be packed and loaded for delivery. Each lunch includes a sandwich, juice box or water, sweet item, salty item and a fruit. MUST posts the menu on its web site (www.mustministries.org) and even has a Quick Pledge form for people who want to donate items for the meals.

For more information on how to help with making sandwiches, packing sack lunches or delivering the meals, email weserve@mustministries.org with your company information and what county you would like to serve. Summer Lunch ends Aug. 12.

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