Pantries give hope, help to families
“I work two jobs, she’s a stay at home mom,” said Ricky. “With all the other expenses we have … a little help is needed. By the time I pay the rent and utilities and car insurance, we come up short on food often.”
Natalie and Ricky are able to get the food assistance they need at Crosslines, an Ozarks Food Harvest member pantry in Springfield.
“It is extremely beneficial for everyone to have food on the table, and it helps a lot having the pantry to help us out with that. It lets me not stress out as much as I normally would,” Natalie said.
They shared that without the pantry, they wouldn’t have enough nutritious food to provide for their daughter, Farrah.
“We could make it on what I bring home, but produce is really expensive in the grocery and so having that available helps us stay healthier and stronger and keeps us going,” Ricky said. “It is more sustainable than what’s cheap.”
Natalie said her daughter Farrah enjoys eating apples, lettuce and other produce that’s distributed at the pantry.
Over the past three years, Ozarks Food Harvest has made great strides to increase food access for families who are working hard, but need extra help to make ends meet.Food access across the 28 southwest Missouri counties served by The Food Bank has increased by 44 percent.
With another record-breaking fiscal year, Ozarks Food Harvest is now serving more than 14.6 million meals every year to more than 261,000 people.
Eight counties in The Food Bank’s service area – Barton, Douglas, Greene, Hickory, Jasper, Newton, Oregon and Texas – saw at least a 50 percent increase in meals distributed since fiscal year 2013. For Greene County, which has the largest number of food insecure people in the Ozarks, the increase was 68 percent.
And Lawrence, Shannon, Vernon and Wright counties saw an over 100 percent rise in distribution.
These increases are a direct result of the implementation of Ozarks Food Harvest’s strategic plan that emphasizes collaboration with the communities served.
For Natalie and Ricky, better access to food means their family will have more nutritious meals, and even more than that, Natalie said, “It gives us hope, definitely. It makes us feel like we actually belong in society. We’re extremely thankful.”
Ricky said it’s inspiring to see how much this community cares about those who are struggling. He said, “When people help out like this and donate food and diapers and such items to people who are struggling, it helps us to be able to get through the day and give back what we can. It’s what makes a community work.”
Visit ozarksfoodharvest.org to watch Natalie and Ricky share their story in Ozarks Food Harvest’s video series, Focus on Hunger. And visit the donate page to see how your gift can help families just like this all across the Ozarks have something to eat.