How Dot Foods Gives Back at Innovations Trade Shows
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At Innovations 2021, attendees stopped by the Lift For Life Academy booth to put together supplies for students.

In July, Dot Foods hosted Innovations, its annual trade show, in St. Louis. The event brings together Dot’s customers, suppliers, and national account operators to network, sample products, and learn about the latest industry trends and Dot developments.
But the show serves another purpose according to Christine Iovaldi, Dot’s brand manager and former trade show manager: “One of the goals of the show is to invite our attendees into our culture. Giving back to communities and promoting a philanthropic spirit is one of the foundations of our culture.” 
With this in mind, Iovaldi set out to spotlight different charities at Innovations 2019. At the Alzheimer’s Association booth, attendees wrote letters to patients. St. Jude hosted a virtual cancer-free party. Attendees also put together Battalion Buddy Bears for military families at the Operation Gratitude booth. 
“I tried to pick charities that would have universal appeal whether you were a supplier from Florida or a customer from Canada,” explained Iovaldi. “I think providing attendees with hands-on opportunities to give back is something that makes our show special.”
This year, Trade Show Manager Charlsie Pinkerton continued with the tradition by bringing Lift For Life Academy (LFLA) to the show floor. The school serves many at-risk students in North St. Louis. At their booth, attendees put together care packs to distribute to nearly 800 students. 
While the charity booths were introduced just a couple years ago, Innovations has given back to the community for several years. As Dot Foods President Dick Tracy said before the Industry Update, “We want to make sure we waste as little food as we possibly can.” To that end, exhibitors are always given the option to donate their unopened product to a St. Louis nonprofit. 
For this year’s show, the items were given to Operation Food Search, which distributes over $31 million worth of food and necessities to Missouri and Illinois each year. The St. Patrick Center received this donated product at previous shows. 
For Pinkerton, our philanthropic efforts mean even more at this year’s show: “We recognized the need in our community given the effect COVID-19 has had on us all. It’s a part of our culture to give back, and we are so appreciative to all our customers and suppliers that support our values.”