2021 Annual Appeal

a Community

You may wonder what the new Trader Joe’s Supermarket in South Bend has to do with a woman who brings her child to lunch at St. Margaret’s House. What is the connection between the 4-H kid raising livestock and the father of a child with cancer staying at Ronald McDonald House? How does a student from Bethel University impact a blind man trying to catch the bus? What is the kinship between a welder at Lippert Components and an elderly man living in a federally subsidized apartment?

The answer is Cultivate Food Rescue. We harness the goodwill of food donors and volunteers to renew hope, one meal at a time, to the food insecure in our community.

Before Trader Joe’s Supermarket even opened, they contacted us to help them be better stewards of the environment with the edible food they don’t sell. They are one of the many food partners we work with to rescue unused but still delicious food. The University of Notre Dame, Four Winds Casino, Stanz Food Service and Whole Foods are some of over sixty generous food partners we’ve had over the years. Partners who, in total, have donated over two million pounds of food since we opened our doors!

Enter the volunteers! Once all the food is donated here onsite, our staff work with devoted volunteers who help cook, package, and redistribute the rescued food. You have donated over 5,000 hours of your time in the last year: church groups; school organizations; banks; healthcare facilities; corporations; families and single volunteers. The Lippert welder who chose Cultivate as the organization for his volunteer day. The Bethel student who helped clear the sidewalk for our kitchen volunteer who is blind but can chop onions faster than most chefs. The 4-H student raising money to purchase livestock to be donated. Each of you plays an integral role in the success of our mission. We are eternally grateful to each of you.

Most of you are familiar with Cultivate’s backpack program that provides 1,000 food-insecure children with weekend meals. This, however, is just one part of our mission. As it did for most aspects of life, the Covid 19 pandemic shined the light on an additional need in our community. One that Cultivate could fulfill. Many area pantries and soup kitchens are limited from serving as many patrons as they envision due to the lack of funds, food, purchasing power, storage, and logistics. Cultivate Cares Food Network (CCFN) was born from this need. CCFN is a food pantry support system that provides much needed perishable food items to food pantries and soup kitchens in our three-county area at no cost to them. Inspired by our mission of fighting hunger and reducing food waste, CCFN focuses on providing these partners with perishable food items like protein, dairy, fresh produce and bread-items with a higher nutritional value than standard, non-perishable items.

CCFN partners with over 100 food pantries and soup kitchens in the three-county area. We are able to supplement the missions of organizations like Clay Food Pantry, Milford Food Bank, St. Margaret’s House and Ronald McDonald House Charities. We believe we have only scratched the surface of our potential. Our sole sources of revenue are grants and the generosity of donors like you. The equation is a simple one: If we increase our donations, we expand our mission and footprint in the community.

Please consider donating today and join us in our journey to transform a community.

During a time of such division in our country and world, Cultivate is a beautiful example of bringing the community together. Thank you for partnering with us!

Cultivate Cares Food Network Logo

Sharing Food Donations and Purchases toEfficiently End the Cycle of Hunger in Northern Indiana

Transform How You
See Food

Transform Campaign Art
Stocked Shelves at The Center in Nappannee

To understand how to better serve Cultivate Food Rescue’s pantry partners, we drive to The Center in Nappanee to meet their Program Director, Jon Andrews. Jon explains to us how the pantry is modeled after an upscale grocery store; the clothes closet after a boutique. Dignity is the theme. Dignity is what he offers; a warm smile, a fist bump, a wave out the van window, a hug. Jon knows that one of the patrons has a food allergy so he sets aside the egg-free mayonnaise that Cultivate rescued from a local grocery store especially for her. When seaweed showed up on Cultivate Cares Food Network’s list of new pantry items, we worried it would remain unordered. But because Jon takes the time to get to know the people he serves; he knows seaweed is a common ingredient in Korean cuisine and he has just the family to take it.

Jon also delivers our Cultivate backpacks, filled with weekend meals for food-insecure children, to four different schools in the district. As we drive around, we troubleshoot how to reach the teenagers who are hungry. We deliver a smaller allotment of backpacks to the middle school than the elementary school even though Jon knows the need at this school is great. But anyone who knows a teenager knows how important image is and many are too embarrassed to take the backpacks home. How do we serve dignity to a fourteen-year-old? Can we send extra home with younger siblings? No, they aren’t big enough to carry it all. We don’t find an answer, but we’ll keep trying.

The Center is one of over one hundred pantries, soup kitchens and non-profits with whom Cultivate Food Rescue partners. These organizations share our goal of alleviating hunger in our communities. Jon’s passion and dedication are echoed by so many who, like you, envision a better neighborhood, town, city, and do what they can to make that vision a reality.

Together with our partners, we recognize that hunger is often silent. You may see it in the people you encounter at school or church and not know it. But the impact of satisfying a hungry stomach is immense. Nourished children are less likely to misbehave. We see improvements in attendance as well as academic performance.

A hungry stomach is now satisfied. An individual finds renewed hope because they aren’t constantly plagued by their need for food. It’s not just food. It’s hope, aspiration, ambition, potential. It’s dignity. Transform how you see food.

Jon Andrews delivering backpacks

“It is a blessing to partner with Cultivate because of our shared passion to feed the hungry within our community.”


Jon Andrews
Program Director, The Center in Nappannee

Making an Impact

Pounds of Food Distributed


Pounds of Food Distributed to Area Pantries in the First Three Quarters of 2021 by CCFN

Meals Distributed


Meals Distrubuted Through the Backpack Program

Food Rescued in the first nine months


 Pounds ofFood Rescued in theFirst Nine Months of 2021

Total Meals


 940,500 Pounds of Food Rescued Equals 627,000 Total Meals

Environmental Impact


Environmental Impact of Removing 428 Passenger Vehicles from the Road for a Year

A Note from Director of Fund Development

In spite of the challenges that 2021 brought our way, Cultivate was able to thrive and provide hope one meal at a time. Our impact in 2021 would not have been possible without the generous support of our food and financial donors, along with our volunteers. As we near the end of the year, I would ask you to consider making a new, tax-deductible donation by December 31st. We have some exciting plans for 2022 and your gift will help us in moving these initiatives forward. Thank you for empowering us to reduce food waste and feed the food-insecure in our region. Have a safe and enjoyable holiday season.

Todd Zeltwanger Signature
Todd Zeltwanger

Director of Fund Development

Todd Zeltwanger | Director of Fund Development