Every school year, more than 1,600 at-risk children in the Ozarks receive food through our Weekend Backpack Program. After classes were canceled, we worked closely with our school partners to ensure that these children would continue to receive weekend meals.
The last few months have been quite challenging for our communities here in the Ozarks. Our friends and neighbors—many who have never been in need of food assistance before—have struggled to stay afloat.
Before Emily Tompkins spent her days sorting food at Ozarks Food Harvest and helping out at our garden in Rogersville, she worked at a title company and a local restaurant. The coronavirus left Emily without a job and left The Food Bank without volunteers.
There’s still a tremendous amount of uncertainty about how COVID-19 will affect our economies and communities in the long run. We’ve already seen the immediate effects: people furloughed or laid off from their jobs, permanent closures of businesses, shortages of food items, supply chain backups, school closures, the increased need for food assistance and so much more.
The coronavirus has innovated the way we help our communities. Stamp Out Hunger, the largest national one-day food drive, has moved online this year. Instead of food, this drive is collecting funds to help stamp out hunger nationwide.
The McCarty Senior Center was established in 1999 to help people in Wheatland get the help they needed when times got tough, thanks to a generous contribution from Ward McCarty to the senior citizens of Hickory County.
Kevin Richardson moved back to Springfield to teach, but the coronavirus interrupted his plans, leaving him without a job. Fortunately, Kevin was able to find temporary employment at The Food Bank. While everything had not gone according to plan, he did not let that stop him from being open to new opportunities. After working with us for a few months, Kevin accepted a position as a volunteer coach.