June 2021 Newsletter

Transform 2021

Cultivate rescued 1,037,240 pounds of food throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, delivered 240,081 meals, and had a 439% growth increase in distributed food from previous years. These are phenomenal numbers that measure our impact in the past.

Throughout 2021, we want to highlight the ways Cultivate transforms the communities around us. We transform wasted food into brand new meals that will fuel tomorrow. We transform hungry stomachs into hungry minds, ready for knowledge.

Through your contributions to our goals, we can transform food insecurity in our communities into well-fed bodies and minds!

Ketchup with Cultivate

A Note From Our Executive Director

There were 45,000 students on free and reduced lunch in the three counties we serve prior to the pandemic. In the fall, we will be serving 1,000 of these students. Food is a staple no human should go without, especially any child. The absence of food can cause lasting trauma, poor academic performance, slowed development, misbehavior and results in a generational cycle of poverty.

When the pandemic hit, Chef Randy and I looked at each other and asked, “Where is our food going to come from?” Up until the pandemic, 90% of the food donated was already prepared by our food partners and could go straight into the meals, but with the onset of the pandemic, that number swapped and we now are preparing 90% of the food in our own kitchen. While this was a difficult shift, it showed us the growth we were capable of, in both food rescue and meal production. Our food rescue operations went from 450,000 pounds a year to well over l million pounds! This allowed us to grow the number of students we serve from 400 to 1,000 children or 6,000 meals every weekend, this coming fall. We have also had the opportunity to launch our Cultivate Cares Food Network where we help pantries, soup kitchens and other local social service agencies resource fresh food products at no cost to them.

Our business model depends on collaborative partnership with food suppliers, financial donors, volunteers, and agency and school partners who are the final leg of distribution. These relationships impact our ability to serve the community and thankfully, everyone stepped up during the pandemic. Food service businesses and schools donated all of their food when the pandemic forced them to close. Schools and pantries changed their models to get our food to the children and other community members we serve. Donors and grant sources grew and increased their generosity. Volunteers braved the uncertainties of the pandemic and helped us to more than double our meal output. We were also able to start a unique collaboration at the beginning of the pandemic with other organizations in our community who also provide food for those in need. The Emergency Food Initiative still meets each week on Zoom to collaborate in our efforts to feed those in need.

It has been forecasted that it will take five years to return to pre-pandemic food security levels. Globally, many of the poverty reduction advancements over the last 40-50 years have been wiped out. Our work here has just begun! Over the next year, we plan to kick off a capital campaign for our next stage of growth and to invest in our facility so that we can serve more students and vulnerable members of our community. We plan to grow our support to pantries by providing key perishable food items like milk, cheese, bread and proteins. We also hope to kick-off a career pathway in culinary education to help local high school students graduate and find employment in our community, and to grow our involvement with local Career Technical Education programs.

I want to personally thank everyone who has supported our mission. Without your support, none of this would be possible. Chef Randy and I are truly honored and blessed to lead up this mission to reduce food insecurity and food waste in our community. With your help, we will continue to grow and work to meet the food needs of our neighbors.

Jim Conklin
Executive Director

Join Us For Taste of Hope!

Join Us For Taste of Hope! Our signature fundraiser will be here soon and we can’t wait! On September 16th, we will be holding our annual Taste of Hope at the Century Center Island Park where we will be tailgating from 6-8:30pm! Mingle with other Cultivate supporters on the island while tasting delicious dishes from 10-15 local restaurants, caterers and food vendors and listening to music from the live band “The 1985.”

If you need a break from walking around, standing tables will be scattered throughout the event along with places to sit on planters, retaining walls along the outside of the island, and inside the Century Center if needed. Your donations throughout that evening will help us to reach our goal of funding 1,000 students in the Cultivate weekend backpack program for the 21/22 school year. Hear from our partners, learn about our beneficiaries, and watch the students on our fundraising barometer Candyland gameboard be propelled from school to home by your contributions! Together we can make a difference for those food insecure students in our communities!

Click the link below to register to attend or sign up as a corporate sponsor. Can’t wait to see you there!

Volunteers of the Month

Tom and Carolyn Edgerton

 The volunteers of the month for June are Tom and Carolyn Edgerton. They have been with Cultivate from the start! Tom Edgerton also serves as the Vice President on our Board of Directors. If you have ever volunteered on a Tuesday evening, the Edgerton’s probably led your shift.

Their favorite food to pack is oatmeal, or at least that is the food item that always seems to need processed on Tuesday nights. We have even nicknamed Tom “The Bomb.” If you want to hear more about that story, feel free to come volunteer on a Tuesday evening and ask him yourself!

We appreciate both of the Edgertons and all that they do to support Cultivate


2021 Golf Outing

Another successful Golf Outing in the books! We ended up with 50 golf teams of 4 and a beautiful day! We raised nearly $50,000 at our Golf Outing this year thanks to our many players and sponsors! Special thanks to our title sponsor Smoker Craft Boats. Swan Lake is always a great host and we plan to come back next year on Wednesday, May 25th, 2022 so mark your calendars now! What a great opportunity to introduce new people to Cultivate’s mission and get them involved in impacting our community through food rescue and redistribution

A huge thanks to Smoker Craft Boats who made the Golf Outing possible with their generous donation as a title sponsor.

Check out the many sponsors of our Golf Outing on our website https://cultivatefoodrescue.com/golfouting2021/.

From the Backpack to the Grad Cap

Why Donate to Cultivate?

Cultivate is dedicated to the education of our local students: from backpack meals that fuel learning at the elementary schools to partnerships with high schools and colleges to aid in graduation. We love partnering with local schools and universities like South Bend Community Schools, Notre Dame, and Ivy Tech to provide educational opportunities whether it is in the kitchen, business development projects, logistics training, or health education.

Despite COVID-19 restrictions which limited our culinary training program, many local students were able to take advantage of our space and complete their educational requirements while also giving back to the community. Now that’s what we call a win-win partnership!

Wish List

  • 6 – Food Rescue Carts ($140-$415)
  • 10 – Speed Racksfor Kitchen Production ($789)
  • 21– Roasting Pans Per Rack ($32 Each)
  • 1– Tilt Kettle ($15,591)
  • 1 – Southern Pride Smoker SPK 1400 ($35,000)
  • 1 – Garage Conversion & Office Space ($155,000)

Email toddz@cultivatefoodrescue.com
for more information or interest in donating!

Cultivate Cares
Food Network

You’re in line at the food pantry for the first time in your life. You lost your job during the pandemic and money is tight right now. In order to feed your three children, you need items from the food pantry to supplement your grocery trips. It is expensive to eat these days on a limited income. You don’t know exactly what to expect, but you anticipate mostly canned and boxed items. To your surprise, in addition to many of the staple items, your car is loaded with fresh produce, milk, bread and even ground beef!

Thanks to many of our partners and the desire from pantries for fresh products, we have been able to source many of these items throughout the past year for local pantries. We recently received a $50,000 grant from the Community Foundation of St. Joseph County for this program, and in order to receive this money we need to match it. We need your help to continue our Cultivate Cares Food Network Program and fill pantry shelves with healthy, fresh products! When you donate, select “Cultivate Cares Food Network” from the dropdown menu and we will make sure your donation goes directly toward this matching grant! Your support is making a difference for families in our community.

Your impact will be double by a
matching grant from the Saint Joseph County Community Foundation!

We Want The Meats

In February 2021 Meat Hunger, a 4-H Livestock Buyers Group created in 2017, formally merged with Cultivate. Our summer intern, Emily Evers, has been reaching out to area schools and 4-H groups looking for interested students to help run this program. The goal is to continue helping 4-H youth by purchasing their livestock at a premium price or as the turn buyer. Cultivate will continue to reach out to donors for funding to help support the Meat Hunger program and to purchase the livestock at the St. Joseph County 4-H Fair that will be processed and used in meals served to the community. With the help of Hoosiers Feeding the Hungry covering processing fees, we can focus on allocating 100% of the donations back into Cultivate and feeding food insecure children and families in our community.

If you are interested in making a monetary donation to the cause, or donating an animal, please reach out to Todd at (574)-952-8148 or toddz@cultivatefoodrescue.com.