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It’s a Sunday afternoon and my family is out so I decide to go to my favorite lunch place, Jersey Mikes, to get a “Stickball Special”, a great sandwich that I have not been able to duplicate at home, at least not as well as they do it.

While I’m standing there, I notice the sign on the deli case which reads “Join us Wednesday, March 29 for our Day of Giving” where 100% of sales will be donated locally to the Where Angels Play Foundation. I’m generally pretty cynical when it comes to businesses looking for me to donate for the charities that they choose but this one intrigued me. 100% of sales? That’s pretty impressive. I’ll have to put that on my calendar.

It reminded me of FPSA’s Giving Back Programs which have boomed over the past 12 years. You can start with Defeat Hunger, where to date FPSA and its members have donated over 2 million meals to the food insecure families of Cook County, IL. Starting next week, we’re expanding that to include a donation to the local foodbank in Tucson were we’ll be holding the FPSA Annual Conference. As if that is not enough, our amazing Women’s Alliance will be taking time out of their conference schedules to go to the food bank and volunteer in packaging up donated food to be distributed to local families in need. And that’s just the start of our big week of Giving Back.

The following day, we’ll hold our Annual FPSA Charity Auction in support of six great causes as chosen by our industry councils. You might say that our Meat Council (MISA) kicked off this endeavor decades ago with the MISA Scholarship for students pursuing careers in the meat industry or in engineering. In fact, many meat industry professionals got a leg up thanks to this assistance. For years, this was the only form of Giving Back that our Councils engaged in, that is until our Auction was expanded to include all segments. From there, our groups began to identify the communities each one wished to provide support to.

The Bakery Council chose Greyston Bakery in its effort to train and provide employment to people who have encountered barriers to getting a good job. Greyston’s Open Hiring model addresses that and creates opportunities for these individuals to make a living.

The Dairy Council chose to follow MISA’s lead and offer the Tom Imbordino Memorial Dairy Science Scholarship to promising college students in dairy and food science. The Imbordino Scholarships have been embraced by these students as a critical resource to achieving their dreams of a career in the dairy industry.

The Pet Food Council supports the American Humane Society in its noble program, Pups4Patriots. This indispensable program finds dogs in search of forever homes and trains them to be lifesaving service dogs for veterans with Post-Traumatic Stress or Traumatic Brain Injury. As a dog-lover and the son of two veterans, this one holds a special place in my heart.

Next, our Prepared Foods Council proudly aids food processing research at Oregon State University through its support of OSU’s Student Product Development Team. With this aid, students are able to participate in product development competitions like those at IFT, which helps to prepare them for a career in the food industry.

And lastly, our Beverage Council supports DigDeep, the non-profit organization that works to provide clean running water to American families in underserved communities such as Appalachia and the Navajo Nation.

One common theme through all of these, besides supporting people and communities in need, is the fact that FPSA collects nothing in administrative costs. A dollar donated for one of these projects is a dollar that goes straight to that cause. This is due 100% to leadership that is committed to Giving Back and making as much of an impact as we can.

Yes, I’m still cynical but can’t help but feel pride in what a good group of people can accomplish.

Andy Drennan, FPSA SVP