President and CEO Curt Detjen was interviewed as part of The Post-Crescent’s Stock the Shelves campaign to battle hunger in Wisconsin. The Community Foundation handles the collection of the monetary donations for Stock the Shelves. The campaign runs through Dec. 5. Here is the Q&A with Curt, published Nov. 15.
Name: Curt Detjen
Organization: Community Foundation for the Fox Valley Region
Question: Tell us why your organization has made Stock the Shelves an important part of its philanthropic efforts.
Answer: Neighbors helping neighbors is an old-fashioned value system that still thrives in our region. Stock the Shelves gives each of us the opportunity to do our part in a communitywide campaign to provide much-needed food to our neighbors in need. Each year, many donors give through the Community Foundation to support Stock the Shelves because they know it is much-needed, effectively used by the food pantries, and their donations are matched dollar-for-dollar. We know this works, and it feels good to give.
Q: How long have you been involved with Stock the Shelves and what has your organization done in the past with the effort?
A: The Community Foundation has been a partner with The Post-Crescent in Stock the Shelves as far back as 2000. The partnership works so well because the news organization is able to get the message out so much better than anyone else, and donors know they can trust their donations through the Foundation will be used exactly as they are intended. We know what happens with every donated dollar, and we hear the stories from the food pantries about how many clients they are able to serve. That’s why we are so committed to this.
Q: Many people never see the effects of hunger in communities as prosperous as ours. What would you say to convince people of the importance of supporting local food banks?
A: Our food pantries are mostly volunteer-run, and stretch every dollar they’re given. We know that 14 percent of local households are living in poverty and that more than one in three households are the working poor who struggle to afford the necessities. The food pantries are a lifeline for these families to make it, as they work hard to become more selfsufficient. I appreciate that our community generously supports innovative programs helping people to become independent of assistance, but in the meantime there is tremendous need. We can all do our part to help through Stock the Shelves.
Q: Tell us about a time you experienced the impact of the Stock the Shelves effort on the people we’re helping.
A: Conversations with people struggling to get by are hard to forget. The stories of parents juggling multiple jobs, trying hard to be good parents and role models for their children, and sometimes being forced to decide whether to use their last precious dollars to pay to get the car fixed, buy needed medications or put food on the table. I’ve walked with them in the food line, listening as they told me their story about what those groceries really represented to them — the means to keep it all together one more time.
Read our annual Report to the Community at www.cffoxvalley.org/CommunityReport.