Changing strategy to fill pantry shelves
It’s hard to believe we’ve been living in pandemic-mode for an entire year. As COVID-19 took hold last spring, none of us knew what to expect. I’m extremely thankful that as soon as the impacts of this virus began to present themselves, Ozarks Food Harvest instantly jumped into action to provide more meals.
The Food Bank quickly began distributing more food and worked closely with hunger-relief partners to address their immediate needs. Food pantries needed more food on their shelves, and The Food Bank sent out additional produce, dairy and meat. As a first responder, Ozarks Food Harvest worked diligently to provide more meals to communities across southwest Missouri than ever before.
The Food Bank is always prepared to distribute food when disaster strikes, but the pandemic required a change in strategy. Thousands of people lost their jobs or experienced reduced hours and children were missing the routine meals provided by their schools. More families than ever started visiting food pantries for the very first time. Something had to change to meet the increased need—and it had to happen fast.
At the very same time, because of interruptions in the supply chain, Ozarks Food Harvest experienced a decrease in donated food over the past year. Prices of food skyrocketed, and many items were difficult to find. The Food Bank was forced to purchase food in bulk in order to respond to the increased need.
Food banks were created to rescue perfectly edible food from retailers and manufacturers before it ended up in a landfill – not to purchase food for distribution. However, at the height of the pandemic, the main focus was providing food in the face of an ever-changing crisis, so Ozarks Food Harvest changed courses to ensure thousands of families could put meals on the table. Ozarks Food Harvest has purchased $3.6 million in food since last April to keep food pantries and hunger-relief partners stocked and prepared.
I am deeply grateful to the donors that allowed Ozarks Food Harvest to be proactive in meeting the challenges created by the pandemic. I believe we have the potential to emerge from this ongoing crisis stronger and even better positioned to meet the evolving needs of our community. It’s the trust and generosity of donors like you that have enabled The Food Bank to aggressively scale its work to continue fighting hunger.
The impacts of COVID-19 will continue to affect our neighbors and surrounding communities long after the stories of families seeking help are no longer top of mind. The work is far from done, and thousands of people will still have trouble accessing proper nourishment for months to come. We expect an increase in need, and at the same time, expenses continue to rise due to COVID-related restrictions and logistical challenges.
Your generosity has made an incredible difference, and we hope that you will continue to partner with us to bring nutritious food to so many who struggle to access it. Thank you for trusting us with the important work of hunger relief and standing by our side!