Holiday boxes help struggling families
Without help from her local food pantry, Beth, a mother of two from rural Barton County, said she doesn’t know how she’d get through the holidays.
“We cut costs every possible way we can think of,” she said. “My husband works, but it’s not enough income for a family of four, and childcare costs a lot so we chose for me to not work.”
Beth said the holidays can be hard with Thanksgiving and Christmas meals to plan for, as well as figuring out how she will afford presents for her daughter, Dominique, and son, Titus.
“It’s stressful, but Good Samaritan has been very helpful,” she said. “It makes worrying about food easier so we can concentrate on bills … it takes a lot of the stress off so you can actually enjoy the holidays.”
While her husband is at his job making hunting blinds and the kids are in school, Beth spends her days giving back to the pantry that has helped her family, The Good Samaritan Shop in Lamar.
She said, “They’ve given me so much. I like to give back as much as they’ve given me.”
The pantry will help her family even more during this month with a box of food tailored to holiday meals.
The Good Samaritan Shop in Lamar is one of nearly 50 member agencies that are participating in Ozarks Food Harvest’s holiday box program this season.
This program, which began last year, offers agencies bulk rates on holiday staples like sweet potatoes, stuffing, turkeys and gravy.
Prior to offering these items through pick-up and delivery from Ozarks Food Harvest, food pantries were often sourcing these items themselves which led to higher costs and using more of their time and resources.
Chris Elswick with The Good Samaritan Shop is participating in the program for the first time this year.
“Before we had local food drives and they just brought in anything and everything. Then we had to sort it out and purchase what we still needed from local store,” he said. “This is going to save us quite a bit of money. It’s just a good deal all around.”
Elswick said the pantry will supply holiday boxes to about 450 families this year.
“It makes all of us that work here feel good,” he said about helping folks in need of food assistance. “Almost all of the people are very appreciative of what they are getting.”
This is the second year the pantry at Cassville United Methodist Church will participate in the program.
“The fact that Ozarks Food Harvest thought out having these items in stock, we have the diversification of products available to us that we wouldn’t otherwise,” said Janet Mills, program coordinator at Cassville UMC pantry.
Mills said the program allows for families to have more traditional holiday meals, which might not have been possible without the food assistance.
“We hope that after they visited us, we have extended a feeling of warmth and comfort and encouragement,” she said.
Lori Hunter with Mission Joplin said the pantry greatly benefits from accessing the bulk rate for the holiday staples.
“Today we had 40 families that came in. Just knowing that they’re getting food they didn’t have before, it’s a blessing to me personally, and for us as a mission,” she shared. “Being able to get food from Ozarks Food Harvest, we are able to get more food and help more families than before.”
Ozarks Food Harvest is able to offer this holiday program because of the generosity of donors like you.