Thoughts for Food Celebrates 25 Years of Feeding Families
On Saturday, March 4, Downtown Racine will become a bustling, vivacious music festival as 14 bars and venues will host dozens of concerts to benefit the Racine County Food Bank for the 25th consecutive year.
In fall of 1992, a group of Vietnam veterans who ran Vets 21 of Racine teamed up with Racine County Project Emergency, which eventually became the Racine County Food Bank, and George’s Tavern to help feed hungry families in Racine County.
The concept they developed involved a night of music with local musicians donating their “thoughts for food,” and the event was born. The first year’s show featured 12 acts on one stage at George’s, where the tavern was filled beyond capacity before the first act had even finished, and steadily grew for years after.
Dan Taivalkoski, the current executive director of the Racine County Food Bank, got involved with Thoughts for Food in a previous position as a member of the Racine City Tavern League. Taivalkoski began chairing the event in 2001, and took over as executive director of the Racine County Food Bank in 2004.
“I had become passionate about the food bank, and hunger issues in the community,” says Taivalkoski. “The event was near and dear to me.”
The event hit its peak around 2005, generating about 15% of the nonprofit’s cash income. Since then, there has been a decrease in the net dollars coming in to the food bank. The money raised through this event pays for operating expenses, and is a way to raise awareness for the food bank, allowing them to provide the food that hungry families need.
“The monetary and food benefits aside, I think that Thoughts for Food does a great job of raising awareness for what we do,” Taivalkoski says. “There’s a big focus on feeding the hungry around the holidays. No one wants anyone to be hungry for Thanksgiving or Christmas. But come January the faucet kind of turns off and everyone says, ‘I gave in November and December. Now my bills are coming.’ We have a few months that are a pretty significant downturn. The same people who were hungry and appreciative for food on Thanksgiving and Christmas are still out there and in need come January, February and March.”
While the benefit to the food bank and the families they help are the focus, the sense of community and stewardship Taivalkoski sees makes him happy.
“It’s really neat seeing more than 50 bands donate their time and talents,” he says. “When you add up the bands, all of the different volunteer teams and everyone who comes to the shows, you have probably more than 400 people who come out to donate. It’s really heartwarming to see that many people helping the Racine County Food Bank.”
Thoughts for Food is on Saturday, March 4 at multiple venues in Racine. All proceeds go to the Racine County Food Bank. You can buy tickets in advance for $10 at George's Tavern, The Ivanhoe Pub & Eatery, or online here.