Blog

January 27th, 2015

Summer squash The beginning of the year is a natural time to think about goals for the future, and personally speaking, health goals always seem to be at the top of my list. In fact, many of us are realizing the impact of our day-to-day food choices on overall health, and the importance of being proactive in developing a healthy lifestyle. More than ever before, the time has come to do something about the behaviors that are contributing to obesity and other chronic conditions.

What will that mean for Loaves & Fishes, and how are we planning to support our community members who are having a difficult time just paying the bills? We are thinking holistically about health and wellness. Our Nutrition and Wellness program centers around four focus areas that help to build a healthy lifestyle.

CaptureThis diagram represents these four areas: (1) dietary supplements, (2) nutrition education, (3) distribution enhancement, and (4) support services that reinforce wellness efforts.

Through our Nutrition Supplement initiatives, I would like to dig a little deeper into the needs of our special populations. Over the last few years, Loaves & Fishes has been able to nutritionally strengthen the nutritive quality and variety of the foods we provide to our families – something that has been particularly important to our clients. We are also focused on the needs of school age children and infants, knowing that adequate nutrition during those critical years of development can make a difference throughout a lifetime. We will enhance those efforts for preschoolers, and even for our growing population of seniors.

ESLNutrition education is a cornerstone for changing food behavior, but an especially challenging area in many ways. Families experiencing chaotic and unstable circumstances in their life are not easily convinced that they can take control of their diet. These families are over-stressed, sharing the family car, running from one job to another, and still trying to please a toddler. We will need to put nutrition information at easy reach: in waiting areas, shopping aisles and registration points. We also plan to offer more traditional classroom education opportunities in areas of interest. Families who have struggled with food insecurity for long periods of time, even for several generations, are particularly vulnerable to diabetes, and chronic conditions related to improper diet. We have partnered with Midwestern University, Chicago College of Pharmacy, to offer free sessions about diabetes, and how to avoid this pitfall during the difficult times. Our first group discussions will start in January, and we’ll include free blood pressure and blood glucose screening for community members.

photo-smart2-webOur food distributions will be another opportunity to improve nutrition and reinforce healthy lifestyles. We will continue to look for ways to help our clients easily identify and choose healthy food items through our Smart Check program. We’ll be considering ways to offer a more comfortable shopping experience, present foods that emphasize healthier selections, and encourage healthy behaviors like menu planning. Our distribution process is a perfect point of impact for clients, and we will be taking full advantage of it.

Surrounding nutrition initiatives with other wellness efforts like healthcare sign-up, flu shots and dental clinics is a best practice model, and I’m happy to see many community members accessing those support services at Loaves & Fishes. In the fourth focus area, we will continue to promote healthful lifestyles, like growing your own garden, in the year to come.

All of these avenues collectively will build an environment of support and security for our clients and their families – and help everyone keep their New Year’s resolutions.

Jane Macdonald
Director of Nutrition & Wellness

January 27th, 2015

You may recall in October, Loaves & Fishes celebrated Jody’s Bender’s 11th year anniversary. Throughout her tenure, Jody has been witness to the evolution of Loaves & Fishes thanks, in part, to her growth as a community ambassador. For this reason, we are both happy and sad to share that Jody will be joining her husband, Jack, as they move to Michigan so Jack can accept an incredible professional opportunity.

1016949_10152033550680583_8248703515624840125_n“Although I will miss my Loaves & Fishes family and friends tremendously, the professional opportunity Jack was presented with was too wonderful to refuse. We look forward to embarking on this new adventure in the coming weeks and celebrating our 35th wedding anniversary this summer.”

It is not uncommon for Jody’s name to enter the conversation when discussing Loaves & Fishes in the Naperville community. After moving to Naperville in 2002, Jody learned about Loaves & Fishes the following year and immediately felt compelled to join the staff as an administrative assistant. As the organization expanded, so did her role. Her background in journalism made her an ideal fit for community relations, and despite being a self-described introvert, Jody launched Loaves & Fishes into the public eye. She has been a strong advocate for our organization and the people we serve, and by connecting to local leaders and organizations, Jody has paved the way for our collaborative partnerships and our current Power of Community campaign.

10399447_10152280014770583_4652027934113337939_n“Thanks so much to everyone who has made my 11-plus years at Loaves & Fishes such a fulfilling time in my life. Raising awareness of hunger and poverty in our community and being involved with the evolution of Loaves & Fishes has been such a gift to me. It will be exciting to watch Loaves & Fishes’ talented staff, board, and volunteers as they continue to expand the impact of its mission and services to our community. And of course, nowhere could possibly compare to Naperville and the many, many people I have come to know and love here!”

We are excited for Jody and Jack as they enter into a new chapter of their lives, and we look forward to continuing Jody’s legacy of kind, compassionate service in the community.

“It is hard to see Jody go, but we are all very happy to hear Jack’s great news,” said Megan Selck, Interim President & CEO. “The Benders have been supportive of Loaves & Fishes for so long, and we are so grateful for their generosity. The community will surely miss them both a great deal!”

January 27th, 2015


If we go by the usual stereotypes, we think poverty exist only in certain major cities such as Chicago south and west side, South Central Los Angeles, the 5th Ward in Houston, Texas, Bronx, New York, etc. Yes there is a population that truly lives in poverty in these cities. For some, it’s even been a generational curse, passed on from several decades ago that started in the early 1900’s and remain present for families now in 2015. But there’s one place that gets ignored each and every time when discussing poverty; a place that’s outside of major cities and not able to deal with the influx of the poor. In the past, it was designed for families of the middle class to escape residing around the poor in the inner cities: the suburbs!

clientsDemo2014In the past, the suburbs were known as the “you made it” signature, meaning you’re successful in life because you now reside in an area that many people can’t afford. You’re of the Middle Class and possibly on your way to upper class or already there. The suburbs were supposed to be home to the good schools, manicured lawns, and quiet streets. Not anymore. An epidemic has occurred. The suburbs are now the home to the poor, low-income working class who find themselves stranded without access to transit for employment or other resources. How did this occur and when did this take place?

Across the United States, almost 16.4 million suburban residents lived below the poverty line between the years 2000-2011. That’s an increase of 159%. To me, poor people living in the suburbs isn’t so much the bad thing. The bad thing is the lack of jobs, access to jobs, affordable housing, and nurturing schools. For some odd reason, many in power are surprised at how the suburbs have changed over the years but many aren’t taking accountability of having a strong hand in the decline.

House prices have become so expensive in the inner-city that it purposely pushes many low-income families to the suburbs. The lower economic class moved to the suburbs with housing vouchers but that was it. According to a report in the Chicago Tribune, 79% of housing vouchers were used in the suburbs. So basically, the concentrated poor or low-income working class, were moved to an area that lacked more resources than what they previously had living in the city. Some say, “Well at least they received housing vouchers”! Really? There is so much more to consider.

20140416_144248Lack of resources will help poverty thrive. How can one get to their job if they relied on public transportation in the past and there’s no transit system that’s reliable? How can a person make a living if they are pushed to an area where businesses don’t exist? How can a person receive any mental or psychological assistance if three quarters of suburban nonprofits are seeing clients with no previous connection to safety-net programs? Funding streams are drying up and more funding will be cut. The suburbs are becoming overwhelmed with demand. We are now dealing with the working poor as our neighbors.

Many Americans, who even live in half-million to over a million dollar homes, are just one paycheck away from poverty. Actually, one CRISIS away from experiencing poverty and many don’t even know it. According to CFED’s Assets and Opportunities Scorecard, nearly half of households in the US have less than three months’ worth of savings. What causes poverty? Besides generational curse: events, crisis, and other traumatic and unexpected financial events.

What are my recommendations to decrease suburban poverty? Create bus lines, affordable and low-interest car loans, free English courses, variety of school programs, more jobs in suburban areas, and financial literacy education. The majority who are considered poor or low-income don’t want handouts as some might believe. They want the opportunity to improve their circumstances, particularly in housing and financially, because they will take advantage of programs being offered. The programs must be offered so they can have access, not be pushed away from the resources, as what has happened with the suburban poverty epidemic in the last 10 years. This can’t be the American Way. Or can it be?

Duncan Ward
Director of Empowerment Programs

December 18th, 2014

Charles McLimans and Megan Selck pose together with Megan's son, Drew, at the Volunteer PicnicOn Monday, December 8th, we announced a transition of leadership put into motion by the resignation of President and CEO Charles McLimans. Charles, who has led Loaves & Fishes since 2008, has accepted the CEO position at Feeding America Eastern Wisconsin, part of a nationwide network of food banks with which we are closely affiliated. According to a succession plan developed over the past few years, Megan Selck will step up from her role as Vice President and Chief Development Officer at Loaves & Fishes to serve as interim President and CEO until the Board of Directors appoints a permanent replacement.

“As much as we are saddened to see Charles leave, we also recognize that this is a tremendous opportunity for him and an exciting and natural next step in his career,” said Peggy Beata, Board of Directors Chair. “He is a dedicated advocate in the fight against hunger and we look forward to continuing to partner with him as our organizations work toward their shared goal of ending hunger across America.”

Charles began his association with Loaves & Fishes as a volunteer in 2006, and two years later was asked by the Board of Directors to become the organization’s leader. For the past seven years, he has successfully worked with the board of directors to inspire the organization’s visionary response to poverty issues affecting unprecedented numbers of suburban households.

Charles McLimans with Mayor Pradel, Loaves & Fishes board and staff at the grand opening of 1871 High Grove.During his tenure, we have continually grown to serve an increasing number of families throughout the Chicagoland area. He became our leader just as the land acquisition was made for the development of our current facility at 1871 High Grove, and the expansion of our service area to include all of DuPage County.

“While it is bittersweet to leave my Loaves & Fishes family, I feel extremely positive about the health of the organization and the ability of the incredibly talented staff and dedicated Board of Directors to continue pursuing and realizing the growth objectives we have outlined for the future. The organization has never been in a better financial position and I have every confidence in Megan’s ability and passion to continue on the path that we have mapped out together over the past few years.”

Peggy Beata and Megan Selck pose with Deb du Vair of the DuPage Community Foundation.

Peggy Beata and Megan Selck pose with Deb du Vair of the DuPage Community Foundation.

Working side-by-side with Charles since 2012, Megan is well-poised to take on her new position and responsibilities. Building upon her success in previous leadership roles – including several years heading income development for the American Cancer Society, she has been instrumental in launching our first public Power of Community campaign. She also has been integral in the development of our long-term strategic plan.

We hope you will help us wish Charles a fond farewell on Wednesday, January 7th. Our Board of Directors will be hosting an open house from 5-7 pm as a send off to Charles.

December 18th, 2014

givingtuesFB7
What began as an exciting Giving Tuesday was soon complicated when our online donation portal, handled by a third party vendor, continuously crashed, resulting in delays and frustration for many people interested in donating. Despite the complications, our dedicated donors raised $115,414.30, which smashed the original $60,000 goal we set!

St. Raphael's parishioners stopped by to drop off checks in honor of Giving Tuesday.

St. Raphael’s parishioners stopped by to drop off checks in honor of Giving Tuesday.

Quick background: Following on the heels of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Giving Tuesday started in 2012 as a new holiday tradition on the east coast and has quickly grown in popularity among non-profit organizations across the country. As its name suggests, Giving Tuesday celebrates and encourages philanthropy to kick off the holiday season. Last year, our supporters raised $72,147.89 on Giving Tuesday. When combined with a $25,000 match from an anonymous donor, the total was nearly $100,000. This year, we secured $60,000 in donations from two sources, raising the earning potential to $120,000 because each dollar donated would be matched.

By 10:00 am on Tuesday, December 2nd, donations had exceeded $20,000; however, we were soon flooded with calls regarding the donation portal crash, and staff and volunteers were fielding phone calls about the problem (shout out to our incredible volunteer receptionists who helped maintain control of the phones!). Thanks to the quick thinking of our friends from LCWA, we set up an account on a different platform to accept donations while also taking donations over the phone. After speaking with the matching donors, we decided to extend Giving Tuesday efforts into Wednesday, calling the day “Giving Twos-day,” since many donors who were interested in giving were unable to on Tuesday due to the crash.

10850302_10152460279925583_6326167119503206952_nWe are excited to report that $115,414.30 was raised, and with the $60,000 match, Giving Tuesday and Giving Twos-day efforts totaled $175,414.30. This funding will be used to expand our nutrition options for children age 0-18. We anticipate serving 10,000 local children in 2015, and with this funding, we will be able to purchase milk, eggs and other healthy food items for families with children.

“The outpouring of generosity has been inspiring,” said Charles P. McLimans. “Even with technical delays, donors were determined to give; I am so thankful for their patience and for the staff and volunteers who jumped in to take calls and find alternate solutions. I also want to thank our matching donors, The J.R. Albert Foundation and our anonymous donor, for allowing us to extend the deadline into ‘Giving Twos-day’ and allow more supporters to get involved. This effort will greatly benefit local kids in our community by providing them with the nutrition they need to grow and learn.”

December 8th, 2014

Dear Friends,
“We leave something of ourselves behind when we leave a place, we stay there, even though we go away. And there are things in us that we can find again only by going back there.”
~Pascal Mercier, Night Train to Lisbon

And so it is that I share with you, with bittersweet emotions, I will be moving on from Loaves & Fishes. I’ll be continuing the fight against hunger as the President of Feeding America Eastern Wisconsin, based in Milwaukee. The organization is a regional food bank and the largest hunger-relief organization in Wisconsin, serving 36 counties and more than 800 partner agencies.

These past seven years as the leader of Loaves & Fishes have been some of the best of my life, filled with abundant blessings. The people of this community who have given so generously to advance our mission are absolutely the finest folks I have ever had the privilege of knowing and working alongside to serve our neighbors in need. Together, we have made some tremendous progress in building Loaves & Fishes into a best-in-class nonprofit organization.

My passion for fighting hunger will continue now in my home state of Wisconsin. The opportunity to work there along with the chance to serve a broader constituency are exciting and motivating for me.

Loaves & Fishes and the people of Naperville will always occupy a large and fond space in my heart. I love Loaves & Fishes and leave it knowing it is in excellent condition, performing at a very high level with an outstanding and talented leadership team. The board of directors, staff, and volunteers will continue to lead the organization to excellence.

I’m thrilled to inform you that Megan Selck, our Vice President and Chief Development Officer, will assume the role of Interim President/CEO upon my departure on January 9th. Loaves & Fishes has had a succession plan in place for some time now, and I can assure you that Megan is an outstanding leader and very well prepared to step into the driver’s seat. She has been my right hand for the past two years, and I have every confidence in her ability to keep the organization moving forward, full speed ahead.

Gratitude and love are what I want to express to each one of you for all of your kindness to me. Thank you for your friendship, confidence in me as your leader, and for your tremendous support of Loaves & Fishes. I love you all, and wish you the very best during this season of hope, joy, and new beginnings.

Sincerely,

Charles

Charles P. McLimans
President & CEO

December 1st, 2014

As many of us conclude another wonderful Thanksgiving holiday and reflect on how lucky we all are, it is also a time to think about those less fortunate than us and any giving that we might consider before year end. With that in mind, here are a couple issues to consider:

The estimates from most mutual fund companies indicate that many funds will be giving significant capital gain distributions this year. Remember, because of the tax law changes in 2013, there are possible additional taxes on capital gains (i.e., a 3.8% net investment Income tax) once your income is above a certain threshold. Check to see what the ex dividend date is for any mutual funds you own (typically mid-December), and consider gifting those shares to avoid paying taxes on any distributions before year end.

Also, think about gifting highly-appreciated stock. After the returns in the stock market over the last 5 years, many investors again have stock and/or mutual funds that have high unrealized gains. Remember, if you gift appreciated assets, you can deduct the full market value of the gift and avoid paying any capital gains taxes. Because of its charitable status, Loaves & Fishes would not have to pay any capital gains tax upon sale of gifted shares.

Even though the IRS did not extend the Qualified Charitable Deduction (QDC) for 2014, there is still a good chance that they will. The IRS has extended this provision basically every year since 2006. In the tax year 2010, they reauthorized the provision in December and for the tax year 2012, it was extended in January 2013 and made retroactive for 2012. So there is precedent for a late year extension. The QDC allows a taxpayer over the age of 70 ½ to direct an otherwise taxable distribution from an IRA directly to an eligible charitable organization. In previous years, an IRA owner could exclude from gross income up to $100,000. Any transferred amount is not taxable and no deduction is available for the transfer. However, QDCs are counted in determining whether the IRA owner has met his or her required minimum distribution for the year. The benefit here is that it can be more advantageous to transfer the money directly to a charitable organization even though you cannot deduct the gift as opposed to taking a taxable distribution and then making a deductible donation.

As always, please consult your tax advisor regarding any of these possible options.

Kevin O’Hara
Private Wealth Advisor, Business Financial Advisor
Kabza, O’Hara & Associates
A private wealth advisory practice of Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc.

L&F Board Member

November 24th, 2014

Several years ago, while searching for a job, I applied for a fundraising position at L&F. After the initial interview with Charles, I realized my skills weren’t directly in line with the need. What was interesting, as I now know, is the depth in which Loaves & Fishes helps people here in our very own community. It’s been amazing to understand and witness the dedication, involvement and impact this organization has in our area.

I focused my philanthropy efforts on volunteering and donating occasionally. And to be fair, my involvement hasn’t been impactful for the organization, but I’ve helped a bit. And the more I reflected and discerned about my own passions and ability for impactful involvement, the more I recognized I wanted to do more. Like many of you, I contemplated how my involvement could be of value while looking at my available time, talent and treasure.

Early in 2014, I launched my own video production company. We specialize in providing value
based video content to be used on websites and social media outlets by business and
organizations. We are also the first and only company in the western suburbs to offer Vision
View™, a unique technology which provides an elevated video perspective. This past summer I
realized the most impactful way for me to help is to promote Loaves & Fishes via video production and storytelling.

As a videographer, I have a unique and impactful medium to tell of the many initiatives at Loaves & Fishes. I have the ability to highlight the work and its impact. I get to share the story of what it means for a volunteer to enlist their time or a donor to enlist their treasure. I get to use my skills as a catalyst for change in my community by focusing the attention on what L&F does on a daily basis and how impactful and important it is.

I know it can be easy to simply look from afar and allow another day to pass without helping.
Life is a busy and complicated endeavor. Certainly it can be very difficult if your life revolves around not having English linguistic skills. It can be especially hard should assistance be needed with affordable healthcare or understanding tax implications or help is needed with groceries or an electric bill. These mountains seem insurmountable if you are the person in the valley looking skyward. Providing assistance is at the heat of that mission for Loaves & Fishes.

As a witness to this, almost always empowerment comes from within. You can see it in people.
Most often a little bit of assistance is all that’s required to move a person beyond their current situation. The value of the empowerment gift is so transformational that often times a volunteer with speak of how much they’ve benefited by giving. The administration and volunteers see this transformation in those who need every day. I think that is the untold story of what L&F represents. It certainly doesn’t come without a lot of hard work and collective effort but the process is transformative to everyone involved.

This is why I want my company’s philanthropic endeavors to be involved. I want to lend a hand
in letting our community know that people are in need and perhaps even right next door. I want
to craft the message of what L&F is doing to empower those people and change their future. I
want to elevate the story of challenge and success that L&F is dedicated to grapple with
everyday.

As a unique fundraiser initiative this holiday season we are selling a few pictures shot with
Vision View™. These photos make for a really special and unique gift. These photos are also
available as imprinted puzzles, mugs and other unique printed gift ideas. Half the proceeds are given back to the special work of Loaves & Fishes. You can access the offering from the Partner page of the VisionAir website or visit http://visionairchicago.photoshelter.com. This is the first of other limited photo offerings we will be providing for purchase in 2015 for
Loaves & Fishes.

Mike McCarthy
VisionAir Chicago

Topic Community
November 24th, 2014

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On November 7th, Loaves & Fishes held the Celebration of Compassion at the Celebration Community Life Center in Naperville to announce this year’s honorees. Guests included major supporters as well as volunteers who donated more than 100 hours of time during the year ended June 30th.

Charles McLimans presented the awards, donated by John Robbins of Awards & Fine Gifts, Naperville, communicating each honoree’s accomplishments. Awards and certificates reflecting each of our core values, the “Step Up” award, and the Fireball award, which encompasses all core values, were given to the following:

  • Community – Carol Bulfer
  • Compassion – Graham Johnson
  • Dignity – Kate Hopkins
  • Hope – Mike & Toni Havala
  • Service – Tom Klann, Betsy Nardi
  • Step Up – George & Judy Kestler
  • Fireball – Celeste Wagner
  • Outstanding Community Partner – Exchange Club of Naperville
  •  
    Special thanks to My Chef Catering for their services, to Brian Bolliger for handling the AV equipment, to Ella Druek and Chris Brown from Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church – Celebration Center, and to the Metea Valley Jazz Band for entertaining us. We had an incredible time celebrating!

    Topic Community
    November 23rd, 2014

    In 1961, this is what the American diet consisted of according to National Geographic's "What the World Eats" research.

    In 1961, this is what the American diet consisted of according to National Geographic’s “What the World Eats” research.

    National Geographic gives us a wonderful view of the world from the 50,000 feet perspective, and consumption patterns described here are particularly interesting. The diagrams are a startling depiction of what everybody has suspected for some time now: we are eating far too many foods containing fats and sugars. If that is true in most places around the world (yes, even in our backyard), it is doubly true for the household who is struggling to make ends meet.

    The question pops up at Loaves & Fishes fairly often. “If these individuals are going hungry, why do they all seem to be overweight?” The truth is – looks are deceiving. An individual struggling with excess weight can still be undernourished. Without the benefit of healthy food choices, those readily available low cost food choices, full of fats and sugars, can quickly become “the enemy”.

    This is the current American diet, with significant growth in sugar and fats.

    This is the current American diet, with significant growth in sugar and fats.

    Focus groups at Loaves & Fishes have helped to identify some reasons why low income families may choose foods that might be high in fats and sugars. If given a choice between a large box of cereal (that happens to be loaded with sugar) and a smaller box of a whole grain cereal, the chances are 80% that the family will choose the large box. After all, more is better, right? We also know that families are very reluctant to experiment with different food choices. Families often choose items that are most familiar, not wanting to “risk” the chance that a new food would not be enjoyed by the family.

    Those behaviors may sound typical, but they exemplify some of the unique challenges that a low income family will face in the fight against obesity. The Food Research and Action Center, a national anti-hunger organization in Washington DC, has documented several factors that can stack the deck against families that are experiencing food insecurity. On the list:

  • Limited resources and lack of access to healthy, affordable foods
  • Fewer opportunities for physical activity
  • Cycles of food deprivation and overeating
  • High levels of stress
  • Limited access to health care
  • Loaves & Fishes follows MyPlate standards to ensure low-income families have a well-balanced diet.

    Loaves & Fishes follows MyPlate standards to ensure low-income families have a well-balanced diet.

    How can we help? Step one, particularly for pantries or emergency food providers, is to make a commitment to offer foods that are a part of a healthy diet and do not promote obesity. These healthy food options are particularly important for families with young children. Thankfully, Loaves & Fishes has made it a priority to provide a variety of healthy foods for households in our community that are experiencing food insecurity. Our food recovery partnerships with retail grocery stores have allowed us to access large quantities of fresh foods that are often missing in emergency food distributions. We have also partnered with the Northern Illinois Food Bank to purchase milk and eggs, a much needed calcium source for children.

    Take a look at a typical shopping cart leaving Loaves & Fishes, compared to the food choices that MyPlate recommends for a healthy diet. It is comforting to know that families who visit our grocery market are able to find fruits, vegetables and whole grains that can reduce the risk of obesity. Coupled with nutrition education and coping mechanisms for the tough times, we can go a long way to meet the obesity challenges for low-income families.

    Jane

    Jane Macdonald
    Director of Nutrition & Wellness