Golden State Foods aids Suffolk Food Banks

Published 6:06 pm Tuesday, June 4, 2024

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The GSF (Golden State Foods) Foundation continues positively impacting Suffolk children and families in need.

To help alleviate hunger for children and families in need, the non-profit organization’s local committee has increased Suffolk food bank support with its Focus on Food program this past May for families struggling with food insecurity. The organization has also worked on various programs to help children, such as Best Foot Forward and Focus on Food.

Serving Quality Custom Distribution in Suffolk, a division of GSF, QCD General Manager Peter DelGiorno had a chance to talk about the nonprofit for those unaware. Initiated in 2002, DelGiorno says the foundation was the vision of Former CEO and Chairman Mark Wetterau, who passed away last year. DelGiorno expressed that with their work, we have achieved that vision.

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“He had the vision to kind of push the culture that we had created within Golden State Foods. We are a value based company: ‘Treat others the way you want to be treated.’ And for Mark anyway, it didn’t make any sense that kind of culture would stop at our front doors and that we should branch out into the communities where our associates live and work,” DelGiorno says. “His idea was to do this for the foundation, to positively impact the lives of children and families who live in the areas where our associates live and work. And it made perfect sense to him.”

DelGiorno says that over the past 20 years, the foundation has raised $60 million, which has gone to the communities where each of its centers is. He says the foundation also asks associates to financially support it and support it with their time through volunteerism.

“And it’s a very easy sell because every penny that we collect from our associates goes back into the community,” DelGiorno said. “Any overhead is completely taken over by our national entity. We have a trust fund that’s been funded through company partners, which I am one of, which pays the overhead for the foundation of all the centers so we can make sure that every penny we collect goes right back out into the communities where our operations are, and there’s 26 of them around the United States.”

Regarding the Focus on Food program, DelGiorno says they were able to donate $11,000 to the Virginia Peninsula Food Bank in Hampton, which is focused on a children’s backpack program.

“So when they’re not in school and they’re not able to get lunch and breakfast like they normally would, they can take food home so they’re covered over the weekends and holidays,” DelGiorno said. “And our contribution funds that program for about a month during the year, so we’re very proud of that. That we can help make sure that those kids, maybe who come from a food insecure home, that happens a lot on the weekends and especially on the holidays and weeks off of school, that they do have food that they can access to make sure that they’re all set until they get back to school.”

The organization also launched its Get Curious, Get Involved initiative, with the GSF Foundation committees getting the opportunity to earn a $1,000 donation to their local food bank in addition to the $5,000 Focus on Food grant match. To “Get Curious,” local committees can also bring over three associates for a tour of their local food bank and “Get Involved” by donating their time. Other programs include a backpack program that provides children with “fully stocked” backpacks with school supplies and their Best Foot Forward program, where the GSF Foundation provides shoes for kids during the Christmas season.

“Here we support Mack Benn [Elementary] School that’s right around the corner from us on Nansemond Parkway…,” he said. “Last Christmas, I think we gave them about 120 pairs of shoes. They take the measurements for us and we buy them in bulk and we bring them over to the school, wrap them up as Christmas presents and the kids open them up and then have new shoes to get them through the New Year. We give away about 300 pairs of shoes and we work with two other schools: Camelot Elementary in Chesapeake and then also, we work with PW Moore [Elementary] down in Elizabeth City, North Carolina. A lot of our associates do live in that area, in North Carolina, and commute up to us here to work. So we do that as well.”

Suffolk’s QCD associates were also honored by the GSF Foundation with the Community Partnership Award for their work with the Virginia Peninsula Food Bank. Partnering in 2019, the Suffolk GSF Foundation committee was recognized for providing mobile food pantry volunteer support and childhood hunger relief program donations for the food bank during the COVID-19 pandemic. DelGiorno notes that despite having “about 100 associates,” they are able to do great work in Suffolk, including raising “about $25,000 a year” to give back to the community. 

“…And we get great support from our associates. Some of them go back to the schools where they actually went to when they were children and are able to give these shoes, and they still know some of the administrators and teachers in the building,” he said. “So that’s kind of cool too.”

Editor’s note: Updated GSF Foundation abbreviations and fourth passage at 5:45 p.m., Wednesday, June 5 to reflect accuracy.