We Focus on Hunger In Our Neighborhoods

It’s hard to believe that in this country and this day and age, people in America go hungry. The Second Step Foundation, supported by employees of Interstate Companies in its 29 markets, determined two important things this year: 1) we would help feed people, and 2) we would do it in the regions where our company operates. We want to be good neighbors and support the communities that support us. These stories highlight our efforts and the gratitude that sustains our mission.

Charitable Foundation Stories

  • 2021
  • 2022
  • 2023

2021$10,000Chicago & Cook County, ILGreater Chicago Food Depository

Our Support Goes Beyond Meals To Address Root Causes Of Hunger

The Greater Chicago Food Depository is one of those organizations that we are thrilled to support – their reach is long, the number of people they help continues to grow, and we love their mission: [they are] part of a united community effort working to bring food, dignity and hope to Cook County neighbors. They act as the hub for a network of more than 700 food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters and other programs. These programs provide food where it’s most needed.

They are also working to address the root causes of hunger. Our donation goes beyond supplying meals to programs like public benefits, outreach and job training that support people in overcoming poverty. We are excited to be able to support them at this time as the Food Depository has had to rapidly evolve.

By taking hunger off the table, this great organization works to enable families to focus on other priorities like education, growth and security.

2021$10,000Sioux City, IAFoodbank of Siouxland

Even $1 Makes A Difference (Multiply That By 10,000!)

Second Step Foundation believes that no one in America should be hungry. That’s why we were excited to be able to donate $10,000 to Food Bank of Siouxland. We even heard directly from Executive Director, Jacob Wanderscheid, who let us know that our donation will provide 50,000 meals to the people they serve. That’s a lot of meals!

“… the efforts of each and every employee of Interstate Companies, and their work each
and every day, allowed the company to support the food-based organizations once again in our communities to receive donations that will feed over 800,000 people,” said Jim Williams, Second Step Foundation Co-Executive Director.

The Food Bank of Siouxland is the main food supplier for nonprofit agencies in Siouxland, including food pantries, homeless shelters, soup kitchens, residential facilities, daycare, and senior centers. As a warehouse, they can leverage their resources supplying food and other essentials to over 100 member agencies that directly serve families in need!

2021$10,000Davenport, IARiver Bend Food Bank

Supporting an Inspiration in the Fight Against Hunger

River Bend Food Bank does amazing things in their crucial role in leading the community-wide effort to end hunger in eastern Iowa and western Illinois. Their work crosses boundaries and changes lives with a network of more than 300 partner agencies including food pantries, shelters, meal sites, residential treatment facilities, day care centers and senior centers.

Collectively, these programs are the food safety net for tens of thousands of struggling individuals and families in the 23 counties served by River Bend Food Bank in eastern Iowa and western Illinois.

At the close of 2020, River Bend Food Bank was distributing over 20 million meals per year. Coincidentally, that was the same year our foundation board established new direction for the organization to tie it more closely to Interstate Companies, Inc. and the 27 communities in which it serves across 13 states.

We’re proud to support this organization as we continue to intensify our focus on fighting hunger by supporting local food shelves and similar charities that help feed people.

2021$10,000Des Moines, IAFood Bank of Iowa

Our Support Means Many Meals For Those Who Need Them Most

Have you wondered how exactly a food bank is able to not only secure the food and resources needed, but is also able to make sure they reach the people who depend on them? At Food Bank of Iowa, food and monetary donations are key, but so are community partnerships, as they work every day to ensure that no child, senior or family in Iowa has to struggle to find food.

They accept contributions from individual food donors, food drives, retail stores, food producers, wholesalers, the USDA (through The Emergency Food Assistance Program) and even have several innovative Field to Food Bank Initiatives in place. However, for many needs and for specific staples they must also purchase food – and they are only able to do this the with monetary donations from individuals and foundations like ours. In fact, they serve so many and the need is so great, over 1.5 million pounds of food flow through their warehouse each month!

Our support helps The Food Bank of Iowa distribute more than 15 million meals per year.

2021$40,000Bismarck, NDGreat Plains Food Bank

1 Donations = 120,000 Meals

We know that our donations are appreciated, especially because we donate to organizations whose missions and purpose align directly with our foundation’s mission to fight hunger. It’s not super common, however, that we get detailed, lovely handwritten notes expressing just how impactful our contributions can be. Read on to see a few excerpts from the letter we received Marcia Paulson, Executive Director of the Great Plains Food Bank.

“It is with immense gratitude that I send this note with my thanks on behalf of the 153,000 individuals across North Dakota and Clay County, Minnesota who seek our services each year. Your recent gift will make an incredible impact in their lives as they continue to navigate the challenges of this pandemic.

“For so many that we service, putting three well-balanced meals on the table every day is a hardship. Your generous support lightens that burden tremendously. Your leadership in the fight to end hunger feeds hope!”

Today, with the help of hundreds of food donors and thousands of volunteers and financial supporters, the Great Plains Food Bank distributes over 15 million pounds of food to more than 300 charitable feeding programs operating in 100 communities across North Dakota and Clay County, Minnesota.

2021$20,000Sioux Falls & Watertown, SDFeeding South Dakota

Helping People, Fighting Hunger One Meal at a Time

We are excited to announce that Second Step Foundation was able to make a $20,000 donation to Feeding South Dakota in December of last year – and this was only one contribution out of our $270,000 commitment to help feed people in the communities where Interstate employees live and work!

Feeding South Dakota is a hunger relief organization that fights daily to eliminate hunger for people in the Black Hills State. Last year alone, they distributed 14.8 million pounds of food. Every single week, they assist in providing temporary food assistance to approximately 21,000 hungry individuals and families in South Dakota, and their Backpack Program gives food every weekend to over 4,500 kids who otherwise might go hungry.

Donations to this inspiring organization impact thousands of people every year. “Real people. Real men, real women and real children who need your help and whose lives are changed when they receive it.”

2022$10,000Gardner, KSThe Hope Market

Neighbors Helping Neighbors to End Hunger

On September 30, Interstate Assembly Systems employees Steve Holtgraver, Scott Lasater and Donald Jakobe delivered a check for $10,000 from The Second Step Foundation to Melissa Prins at The Hope Market in Gardner, Kansas.

The team learned from Melissa that the need for assistance has doubled this year in our community. The Hope Market mission is to eliminate hunger and food insecurity in our community, through the distribution of nutritious food and personal hygiene items. The charity empowers neighbors to share resources, providing opportunities towards an improved quality of life.

It can be a tough choice. Heat or food? Lights or dinner? Rent or a meal? While many of us never have to consider this question, more than 130,000 households in the Gardner area are constantly burdened with these types of difficult decisions. The Hope Market doesn’t just help put meals on the table, they take hard decisions off someone else’s plate.

2022$10,000Brooklyn Park, MTSecond Harvest Heartland

Second Harvest Heartland Makes Families Whole Again

Troy Thomas, a credit analyst from Interstate’s corporate office, recently visited Second Harvest Heartland in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota, to present a check for $10,000 on behalf of the Second Step Foundation.

Second Harvest Heartland works to end hunger through community partnerships. As one of the nation’s largest, most efficient and most innovative hunger relief organizations, they leverage their unique position in the emergency food chain to make an impact. The charity partners with more than 1,000 food shelves and hunger-relief programs. And they create new partnerships with schools, hospitals and clinics to broaden and deepen our reach across our service area.

Their work is about more than moving food. It’s about making families whole again — making sure kids have the food they need to learn in school, relieving the stress of an empty cupboard for parents, or giving seniors a little bit more so they can stretch their dollars every month. In 2020, the group helped provide 105 million meals to more than 1,000 food shelves and meal programs serving 59 counties in Minnesota and western Wisconsin.

2022$10,000Carol Stream, ILNorthern Illinois Food Bank

Northern Illinois Food Bank Delivers 78 Million Meals Last Year

Interstate Power Systems team members in Carol Stream, Illinois met with Jenny Ackerman of the Northern Illinois Food Bank on September 28, 2022 to deliver a $10,000 check. The team toured the facility and saw firsthand the great work the charity does in feeding the hungry.

While on site, the Interstate team learned about the food bank’s statistics for the last fiscal year from July 2021 through June 2022. An impressive 96% of the food bank’s resources go toward programs.

Last year, the Northern Illinois Food Bank distributed 78 million meals through more than 900 food pantries and programs. With the help of 17,000 volunteers and 37,000 donors, the charity was able to serve an average of 375,000 neighbors every month. The meals included fresh produce, proteins, dairy and shelf stable foods as well as non-food items to support the community.

2022$10,000Phoenix, AZSt. Mary’s Food Bank

St. Mary's Pioneered Food Bank Concept in 1967

Nobody in America should be hungry. Interstate’s CEO underscored this message with a visit to St. Mary’s Food Bank in Phoenix, Arizona.

“In-between projects and announcements in the office today, a handful of us had the privilege of meeting Lisa Notaro and members of her team at St. Mary’s Food Bank,” said Travis. “Their story is extraordinary.”

The founder of St. Mary’s, John van Hengel, invented the concept of the modern food bank in Phoenix in 1967. Although not related to any religious institution, the food bank received an initial donation and use of a building from St. Mary’s Basilica and named itself in honor of that assistance. The food bank concept was freely shared. Eventually, John van Hangel started the nation-wide food bank network that is known today as Feeding America and helped to spread the concept worldwide.

The need for food assistance in the greater Phoenix area has risen 74% since last year alone. Today, every dollar donated to St. Mary’s Food Bank provides seven meals. Less than 2% of all things donated to St. Mary’s go to waste.

“It was a great privilege to join our teams from Surprise, Arizona in presenting a check to St. Mary’s from The Second Step Foundation for $10,000,” said Travis. “That translates to 70,000 meals provided to someone in Phoenix that would have otherwise been hungry.”

The St. Mary’s Food Bank donation is just one of 28 $10,000 donations that will be provided in 2022 from The Second Step Foundation to local food banks in markets Interstate serves. The $280,000 in direct food aid will fund hundreds of thousands of meals for those in need.

2023$10,000Cheyenne, WYFriday Food Bag Foundation

Providing Nutritious Food to Children

The mission of the Friday Food Bag Foundation is to partner with the community to provide nutritious food to children who might not eat well – or at all – on the weekends. They deliver bags of single serve, nutritious, non-perishable food each week to district schools for distribution by school personnel to children.

Data reported by Laramie County School District for the 2021-2022 school year indicated 5,389 students out of a total enrollment of 16,213, or 33.23% of students in grades K-12 qualified for free or reduced meals.

Based upon results from childhood hunger programs in existence for several years, providing nutritious weekend meals for this at-risk population will not only alleviate their immediate hunger, but improve their overall health and performance levels during the school week.

In September, employees from Interstate Power Systems’ newest branch presented a $10,000 check on behalf of Second Step Foundation to the Friday Food Bag in Cheyenne, Wyoming.

2023$10,000Missoula, MTMontana Food Bank Network

Montana’s Only Statewide Food Bank

Montana Food Bank Network (MFBN) is Montana’s only statewide food bank and member of Feeding America. They distribute food to 360 partners that include community food banks, pantries, schools, senior centers, and shelters to end hunger in Montana. Their hunger relief programs include BackPack, Hunters Against Hunger, Mail-a-Meal, No Kid Hungry, Retail Food Rescue, and SNAP outreach.

In September, Interstate employees presented a $10,000 check on behalf of Second Step Foundation to the Montana Food Bank Network in Missoula, Montana. For every $1 donation, MFBN is able to provide at least five meals (this year’s donation of $10,000 will cover more than 50,000 meals).

MFBN advocates for long-term policy solutions to strengthen public nutrition programs and address the root causes of hunger. MFBN partners with local and national food manufacturers, agriculturists, and other food manufacturers to secure large amounts of food through generous donations, grants, or wholesale. Then, through a team of volunteers, they break down the large-scale food into manageable family-size portions that partner agencies and other programs can easily store and distribute to Montanans experiencing food insecurity.

2023$10,000Marshfield, WINOW Nutrition on Weekends

Targeting Childhood Hunger

The Nutrition On Weekends (NOW) Program is a collaborative, community effort targeting childhood hunger. The program provides healthy, ready-to-eat nutritious foods for children during the weekend, providing a safety net for children when they are not in the classroom and able to access school meals.

Interstate employees presented a $10,000 check on behalf of Second Step Foundation on September 29 to Ashley Winch for the Marshfield United Way NOW Program. In addition to the donation, I-State Truck Centers and Interstate Assembly Systems employees volunteer to pack lunches in the Training Center throughout the year.

NOW was created in response to data collected in 2012 from Marshfield students as part of the Youth Risk Behavior Survey. In this survey, 20% of students indicated they had gone to bed hungry at least once in the past thirty days because there was not enough food in the home.

The program is currently serving 483 children in eight school districts plus the Head Start program. They engage over 700 volunteers throughout the year to help make the program happen and partner with approximately 30 local businesses and organizations that help prepare the weekly food packs throughout the year.

2023$10,000Rockford, ILRock River Valley Pantry

Fighting Hunger, Feeding Hope

The Rock River Valley Pantry’s mission is to fight hunger in the community by providing nutritious food to those in urgent need. Founded in 1976, they are the largest community-based food pantry in Northern Illinois, distributing needed food from two locations five days a week that amounts to more than a million pounds of food each year.

On October 2, Interstate employees delivered a check for $10,000 from Second Step Foundation to Tabatha Endres-Cruz of the Rock River Valley Pantry in Rockford, Illinois.

The Rock River Valley Pantry provides enough food to supply a balanced diet for four days for each member of the receiving households. They rely on a community of donors and every dollar truly makes a difference in their ability to fight hunger.

2023$10,000Davenport, IARiver Bend Foodbank

A Community-Wide Effort to End Hunger

No one should go hungry. River Bend Food Bank feeds people experiencing hunger by rescuing, safely storing and distributing nutritious food through more than 400 hunger-relief partners in 23 counties in eastern Iowa and western Illinois.

Interstate employees presented a $10,000 check on behalf of Second Step Foundation on October 2 to employees at the River Bend Foodbank in Davenport, Iowa.

River Bend Food Bank is a proud member of the Feeding America network – a nationwide nonprofit organization dedicated to providing support and resources to 200 food banks across the United States.

They operate three warehouse facilities to distribute food to hunger relief partner organizations across our service area and serve as the food rescue and distribution hub for food pantries and hunger-relief partners in 23 counties.

2023$10,000Butler, WIHope Center in Waukesha

Building Hope

On October 3, Interstate delivered a check for $10,000 from Second Step Foundation to employees at Hope Center in Waukesha, in Butler, Wisconsin.

Hope Center is a non-profit organization that has been serving the basic needs of financial assistance, food and clothing in Waukesha County. More than 20,000 women, men and children currently live in or near poverty in Waukesha County. For 44 years, Hope Center has strived to minimize the poverty related risk factors that contribute to homelessness by providing, at no cost to County residents, food, clothing and simple living items.

Their “Outreach Meals” program began in 1991 to address the need of hunger in the community. Guests include the homeless, those living in rooming houses or shelters, families trying to stretch their budget and elderly persons on a fixed income, many of whom are physically and/or mentally impaired.

In the first eight months of 2023, the Hope Center has helped combat hunger by providing 6,418 breakfasts, 5,870 lunches and 6,740 dinners.