Meet Rich, Food Outreach Board Member


Meet Rich, Food Outreach Board Member

Rich Kluesner, board member, has been a regular attendee at Food Outreach’s signature event, A Tasteful Affair, since 1993. He started volunteering for Food Outreach in 1994 at the Saturday cook and packs at Union Avenue Christian Church, and since then he has been a volunteer, donor, and enthusiastic advocate for Food Outreach.

From the start, Rich would recruit friends to come with him to volunteer. “I’d bring people with me to volunteer at the Saturday cook and packs. And almost everyone I brought came back multiple times. It was fun. It was just a way to get together. We cooked and packaged 10,000 containers sometimes, or even a little more in one day.”

Rich got more involved with Food Outreach when he became the head of the host committee for A Tasteful Affair. He also helped raise funds to purchase the building at 3117 Olive Street, the current home of Food Outreach. “I helped raise money in the 1990s to buy the building. I’d go to lunch with friends and ask them for money for the building. Everyone I asked gave something. I didn’t always get the dollar amount I wanted, but we didn’t get any nos.”

The mission of Food Outreach is a personal cause for Rich. He lost a partner and friends during the AIDs pandemic. He donated to Food Outreach in memory of those he lost. He likes to find the names of his loved ones on the donor plates hanging in the lobby of Food Outreach. “I have a couple plates on the wall in the Food Outreach building. Every time I visit, I have to find those. There’s one for my partner who died in 1993. I have a plate for him. I have a plate for my mom who died in 1998. I donated in memory of a friend of mine, Kevin, who died of AIDS only 45 days after my partner died.”

Now retired, Rich stays busy supporting his favorite organizations. In addition to Food Outreach, Rich is on the board of Dance St. Louis, ,is currently the treasurer for Craft Alliance and the Dean’s Advisory Board for UMSL’s College of Arts and Sciences. Rich also serves on the Legacy Giving Committee for the University of Missouri St. Louis, and he has arranged his own legacy gifts to both Food Outreach and UMSL.

Food Outreach remains an exceptional organization to Rich. “There’s a lot of volunteers and a lot of people like myself that have been around for a long time. And we truly have never given up our support. We’ve never wavered. It’s a special organization in that way. It really is.”

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