Kniestedt Foundation is a Texas-based not-for-profit organization that has given back to veterans and active-duty service men and women since 2015 through special programs — and has revealed a new barbecue sauce with proceeds benefitting veterans.

Joe Rhodes, Kniestedt Foundation project manager, teacher and 2001 Perryville High School graduate, has been part of building the organization since 2015.

Rhodes’ expertise in raising money for various student-focused organizations has played a vital role within the Kniestedt Foundation with the new venture, and is an integral part behind the idea for a barbecue sauce.

“Fifty percent of the veterans we have worked with have been out of the Southeast Missouri area,” Rhodes said.

The foundation already was known for offering “once-in-a-lifetime hunting, shooting and fishing experiences” to gently guide veterans back into civilian life, Rhodes said.

“The idea is that we use the outdoors to begin a conversation with veterans or active-duty service men and service women so we can gain a greater understanding of what they may need to make a smooth transition into civilian life,” he said. “Once we know what they need, we begin to plug them into individuals within our network that can give them a greater chance at success.”

He and his team recently realized there was a need to become more unique in how money would be raised for veterans, Rhodes said.

So Rhodes decided to also go another route: a new brand of barbecue sauce with proceeds of Gravick Ranch Big 5 Single Batch Sauce going back into the organization.

“I was definitely on board with the idea,” he said.

When it came to the sauce, Rhodes and his team first thought about what they do well as a whole, he explained.

“We all love to barbecue and we all love to cook, so why don’t we create a barbecue sauce that we can cook and use it at events and to promote the cause that we are all part of,” Rhodes said of his initial brainstorming conversations with other members of the foundation.

When the “sauce process” started, Rhodes knew he wanted it to have “a unique flavor with real, legit, ingredients,” he said.

Kniestedt Foundation has partnered with Kohlfeld Distributing Inc. and Roziers Food Center to make the production a reality.

“September of this year we picked up our first batch; it was 554 bottles,” Rhodes said. “I remember driving home with that. I didn’t have any place to put it; I was going to put it in our basement.”

Rhodes was unsure if he would sell any of the sauce. But by 6 a.m. the next day, Rhodes said he had sold 600 bottles.

“At that point, we realized we might have something,” he said.

The Kniestedt Foundation is a 501c3 not-for-profit organization focusing on veterans and active-duty service members.

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Source: Joshua Hartwig/Southeast Missourian