Finding hope during a pandemic
Kathryn is passionate about education and has served as a full-time substitute teacher in the Ozarks for several years.
“I love my students. I plan to be a classroom teacher in the near future, but even as a substitute, I’m proud and overjoyed to go to work each day,” she shared.
When she took a few much-needed days off for spring break in mid-March, she never dreamed that she wouldn’t return to the classroom for the rest of the year. She—along with thousands of others in the Ozarks—was suddenly unemployed and without income.
Due to the furloughs caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Missouri’s unemployment rate rose to 9.8 percent in April, up from only 3.7 percent in February. Many filed for unemployment benefits and food stamps as they made tough decisions between paying bills and feeding their families.
Prices at local grocers skyrocketed and cabinets quickly emptied as kids stayed home from school. With nowhere else to turn, many families looked to Ozarks Food Harvest to find food assistance. An estimated 60 percent of these people were getting help for the very first time in their lives.
To meet the increased need, The Food Bank began scheduling Mobile Food Pantries around the Ozarks. Members of the Missouri National Guard were assigned to help pack boxes of veggies, milk, bread, meat and pantry staples into the trunks of hundreds of cars week after week.
“I’d never been so relieved and grateful,” said Kathryn after receiving food through a Mobile Food Pantry. “Thank you Ozarks Food Harvest for everything you do! Thank you so much for being a light of hope in such a dark time.”
Those who were struggling also began to visit our hunger-relief partners to get groceries.
“The Food Bank is working around the clock to provide food for people in this community. The staff remains friendly and helpful during this time and goes above and beyond to provide for each agency they serve,” said Johnathan Key, Boys & Girls Clubs of Springfield Musgrave program director.
The Ozarks has started to re-open, but the need for food assistance remains. Thousands are still furloughed from their jobs. Many businesses have been forced to close their doors. Children who are staying home from daycare or summer school are hungry.
“I have three kids and one on the way,” said Nicole, who found help through one of our pantry partners. “My hours got cut. I was working 47 hours and now I only have 17.”
Thanks to kind donors like you, our hungry neighbors are able to find a glimmer of hope in a difficult time. Driving home with a backseat full of groceries helps ease the burdens that so many are feeling right now. We are committed to feeding these families, and we will continue to help them for as long as they need assistance.
No one should be hungry, even in the midst of a pandemic. But we need your help to make that happen. Consider making a gift to our COVID-19 Hope fund by visiting ozarksfoodharvest.org/donate. Thank you for your continued support during these challenging times.