TEAM (The Emergency Assistance Ministry) of Florissant-Hazelwood is a 501(c) 3 not-for-profit charitable organization. TEAM was founded in 1986 and is operated by 100% volunteer help. We sponsor a yearly Trivia Night in April, and we also sponsor numerous restaurant events throughout the year. We get a percentage of sales and have gift basket raffles. We participate in Hazelwood and Florissant community events as well, including several Food Truck Events.
Our funding comes from churches and church groups, businesses, individuals, community and fraternal organizations. TEAM Food Pantry provides food and non-food items to needy families in the Florissant/Hazelwood areas on a once a month basis. Whenever TEAM is unable to provide assistance, referrals will be made to other appropriate helping agencies.
The statistics for The Emergency Assistance Ministry (TEAM) can be amazing. Thirty to 40 families are helped each day; over 90 volunteers donate time to help; and 36 churches give food donations and money to support the food pantry. A lot of our volunteers are members of our churches.
Following is an interview with Nancy Wolff, the current Executive Director of the pantry:
Q: Nancy, how long have you been a TEAM volunteer and what are your duties as Executive Director?
A: I’ve been a volunteer for approximately 12 years. I just became Director in January of 2016, and because I am a people-person, I try to interact with volunteers on a daily basis (keeping in mind, each day 12-15 different volunteers). My duties consist of coordinating the operation of the pantry and lending guidance when needed. I ensure everything is running as smoothly and efficiently as possible.
Q: Can you give us a little background or history on TEAM?
A: Actually we are celebrating our 30th Anniversary this year. The idea to open one pantry to serve the area was suggested by several local churches and civic organizations, and after one year of planning, TEAM officially opened on Oct 13, 1986, at the Lutheran Church of the Atonement in Florissant. In the first 5 years, we assisted over 1200 families with only 30 volunteers. Then in 1988, we expanded our services to include Hazelwood and we relocated to a house (rent-free) on Taylor Ave. in Hazelwood and remained there for 8 years. Then in 2001, a local businessman, Paul Kohnen encouraged a number of business owners to donate to a facility, and we moved to our current site at 265 St. Catherine, in Florissant.
Q: How does TEAM operate – do you have all volunteers, or is anyone salaried?
A: We are a 100% volunteer organization, a 501c not-for-profit charitable organization. TEAM operates six days a week due to our “TEAM” of volunteers who answer the phones, fill the orders, and stock the shelves. Our warehouse volunteers work daily, picking up food donations from grocery stores, businesses, and individuals, ensuring we are open for our clients Monday through Saturday. To answer your question, no one receives a salary!
Q: What are your hours of operation?
A: We are open M-F, 10:00am to 2:00pm, along with Sat – 10:00am-Noon (for those who can’t make it during the week).
Q: What do volunteers do at the pantry – can you then give us the process when someone comes in for assistance?
A: We have several positions for our volunteers: caseworker (they answer phones, interview clients); pantry workers (these workers actually fill the orders for the clients); warehouse men/women (stock and restock shelves, and sort food donations); and we also have drivers (those who pick up food donations from various organizations).
Q: Where do you get some of your food that you give out?
A: We rely heavily on support from our area member churches (36 of them), and we receive food and monetary donations throughout the year. They are the foundation of our organization.
The St. Louis Area Foodbank furnishes us USDA products, as government commodities, for clients. These are given out to any St. Louis County resident who comes to TEAM for help.
They also assign us some grocery stores for food pickup to give out to our clients. We also can purchase food items at a discounted cost, which we qualify for because of our size.
Operation Food Search is another agency who assigns us additional grocery stores (different from the ones from STL Foodbank). They also conduct annual food drives for us in conjunction with the local grocery stores.
Harvest Program assigns us various restaurants for food pickups, also.
Q: Do you receive food or assistance from any other sources?
A: Yes, absolutely. We rely on individuals, businesses, local civic organizations, schools, the Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, US Postal Letter Carriers, Firefighters, Police, and others. Through the years, the Florissant License Bureau-Rotary Club has been a major contributor to TEAM Food Pantry, as well as to many other not-for-profit organizations in North County.
Q: Are there any other avenues of funds for TEAM?
A: Thanks to the TEAM Board of Directors, we now have a Fundraising Committee (POC Pat Piotrowicz), responsible for our main fundraising effort – TEAM TRIVIA NIGHT. We also have restaurant events, where we partner with area restaurants and bring in customers. We receive a percentage of food sales, and we have a gift basket raffle at these events. This is a win-win situation for the businesses and for TEAM, as we are helping each other. We also participate in Florissant Knights of Columbus and City of Hazelwood Food Truck Events, where we man an informational booth and gift basket raffles, also. We also like to participate in fall festivals, where we have the opportunity to give out information on TEAM as well as make money from raffles.
Q: How many families come to TEAM? Statistics.
A: We serve anywhere from 30-40 families each day of the week, and another 22 on Saturdays. So basically, we serve about 800 families a month. We serve families in varying degrees of crisis, and for some we are the only regular source of food.
Q: What is the procedure for a resident who needs assistance and comes to TEAM?
A: When a client calls, a caseworker verifies their information and schedules an appointment. Pantry workers fill the order with donated and/or commodity food, based on the family size. When it is completed, the caseworker has the client sign required government forms and gives them their order. Inventories vary each day, depending on donations, collections, and local purchases. Our goal is to be compassionate, kind, and helpful to all who come in to TEAM. We feel no one in this country should be without food, the basic necessity in life. We want our clients to feel comfortable when they come in, and they deserve to be treated with respect and dignity.
Q: How does your warehouse operate?
A: We definitely have a shortage of warehouse men or women who can lift up to 40 pounds, stocking and restocking shelves in the pantry, as well as sorting food donations. This is a big challenge for us. Any day of the week, we can use volunteers! If you know of anyone interested, please send them our way. It is a rewarding experience to help others.
Q: Board of Directors
A: TEAM Food Pantry is governed by a Board of Directors, made up of individuals (serving as Directors) from the surrounding communities, who are committed to helping TEAM achieve its goals. This Board oversees the budget and develops policies for TEAM’s operations – and they are proactive in raising funds to help with our operating expenditures. There is also an Executive Board, made up of the President, Vice-President, Treasurer, and Secretary. The Board meets bi-monthly (sooner if there is a special need).
Q: What is the goal of TEAM?
A: TEAM Food Pantry wants to continue serving the residents in need from Florissant and Hazelwood, as well as give out USDA foods to STL County residents. We also want to ensure our future in the community, so that we are always here to help people. We want to remain a viable force in North Community, one that people can rely on.