Strack and Van Til and the Food Bank of Northwest Indiana Keep Close Community Connections

Strack and Van Til and the Food Bank of Northwest Indiana Keep Close Community Connections

Two entities that you know, Strack and Van Til LLC and the Food Bank of Northwest Indiana, are connected in the very best of ways. The Food Bank has many great supporters, but Strack and Van Til, Ultra Foods and Town and Country Markets have had a significant impact on the nonprofit throughout the years.

“Hunger and hunger-related causes are our number one causes that we support. It just makes sense,” Chris Bengtson Vice President of Public Relations of Strack & Van Til said. “We are a grocery store and we offer food and we feed hungry people every day. The Food Bank feeds hungry people, too.”

When Ernie Strack and Nick Van Til joined forces in the 1960s, both men had significant experience as business owners and community leaders. They served their community through hard work and generosity ant it continues to this day. They have been involved with the Food Bank of Northwest Indiana since its early days, with someone from the company on the Food Bank’s Board of Directors, out volunteering at their facility and events, and more.

“Strack and Van Til has helped us get to where we are today,” Arleen Peterson, Executive Director of the Food Bank of Northwest Indiana said. “According to our records, they alone have donated over 196,000 pounds of food, and made over $150,000 in financial contributions to our mission.”

In the late 1980s, the Food Bank was hit by the economic recession, and it was evident that if something wasn’t done then the doors would be closed for good. Strack and Van Til wasn’t going to accept this and spearheaded initiatives to keep the nonprofit open.

“We work with food banks and food pantries from Rensselear to Prospect Heights,” Bengtson said. “It’s an intricate network of everyone working together. That network is very important in getting food to those who need it. Food banks work very well together and have a common goal and cause. They do amazing things.”

Throughout the years, the Food Bank of Northwest Indiana has created great programs that assist many underserved individuals, from young children to the elderly, in getting access to nutritious food and education.

One of the programs, Food Rescue, involves saving perfectly good food items from being thrown away at grocery stores and schools. Instead of being thrown in the dumpster, it is delivered to the Food Bank. Of course, Strack and Van Til is involved.

“There are two big benefits to the Food Rescue program,” Bengtson said. “Food that is perfectly safe is not wasted, and more people who are food insecure are fed. Sometimes a product's packaging might get distressed, but the food inside is still perfectly safe and nutritious.”

Other initiatives are put in place to make it easier for Strack and Van Til customers to get involved. They have a Round Up for Hunger program where customers can round up their purchase totals to the nearest dollar and that extra amount is donated to the Food Bank of Northwest Indiana. Another great initiative that customers may have seen recently is Bag a Meal. Pre-bagged food items were assembled and placed by the cash registers. Each bag contained various new food items that created a holiday meal, with the total purchase amount attached on the outside of the bag. Customers could grab a bag, add it to their transaction, and that bag would go directly to the Food Bank of Northwest Indiana.

“We loved this idea because people get brand new food to eat. [Strack and Van Til] is completely committed to making sure that hunger doesn’t go by the wayside,” Peterson said. “We are thankful that we have great supporters like Strack and Van Til on our side.”