Challenges and successes of the past fiscal year
Ozarks Food Harvest encountered several challenges and successes over the past fiscal year, which ran from July 2019 to July 2020. As we press on through the rest of 2020, I want to take a moment to reflect.
Ozarks Food Harvest provided 22 million meals last fiscal year, marking another record year of food distribution for food-insecure children, families and seniors in southwest Missouri. The 20 percent increase in distribution is the largest year-to-year increase in The Food Bank’s 37-year history.
During the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, we quickly developed innovative strategies to meet the increased need. Thousands of people who had never needed food assistance before found themselves in line at food pantries. Those who lost jobs needed an extra hand. Parents needed a little help feeding their kids.
Thanks to our donors, we were able to jump into action to help as many people as possible. We did this through increased Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP or food stamps) outreach, drive-through food pantries and additional Mobile Food Pantries. On behalf of the entire food bank, I want to thank every donor that stepped up to help the community.
Although COVID-19 had a significant impact in our fiscal year total, I believe it’s important to look at the year as a whole, too. Along with providing 22 million meals from July 2019 to June 2020, we distributed 62,000 Weekend Backpacks, sent out 44,000 Senior Food boxes and harvested 47,000 pounds of produce through the Full Circle Gardens program. SNAP outreach contributed 1.2 million meals to The Food Bank’s record-breaking distribution and helped bring more than $5.2 million in economic stimulus to southwest Missouri.
Volunteerism also played an important role. Before The Food Bank temporarily suspended its volunteer program due to COVID-19, more than 3,000 volunteers spent 21,600 hours sorting and packing meals. Temporary workers and members of the Missouri National Guard worked more than 14,800 hours at Ozarks Food Harvest to ensure food distribution continued during the pandemic. Their gifts of time are incredibly meaningful and appreciated.
The good work of The Food Bank would not be possible without our tremendous donors. Throughout the year, foundations, businesses, corporations, organizations and individuals stepped up to serve the community. They wrote checks, hosted fund and food drives, signed up to volunteer, raised awareness through social media and so much more. Because of this generosity, thousands of families can put food on the table today.
Each year comes with its own set of challenges. No matter what the rest of this fiscal year brings, we’re thankful to have you on our side. If you would like to support Ozarks Food Harvest as we continue to provide meals for people recovering from the impacts of the pandemic—and children, families and seniors who are in need for any other reason—I invite you to make a gift at ozarksfoodharvest.org/donate today. Thank you for being part of our family!