How we listen to our hunger-relief partners

How we listen to our hunger-relief partners

April 14, 2022 in Bart's Hope Notes Harvest Time Newsletter

As the only food bank serving southwest Missouri, it is our job to provide not only food to our network of 270 hunger-relief organizations, but opportunities for support as well.

These food pantries, senior centers, churches, feeding sites, mobile food pantry hosts, soup kitchens and schools distribute food to thousands of people facing hunger each year, and we want to make their job as easy as possible.

Ozarks Food Harvest offers its members a multitude of training and support options. Food safety training, civil rights training, technical support, volunteer management, advocacy and grant application opportunities help set them up for success as they provide meals across the Ozarks.

We also collect feedback on how we can help these partners increase food distribution and access in their communities. Collecting this data allows us to address potential problems, identify best practices and implement necessary changes across our entire network. We aim to get as many responses as possible so we can learn how to best serve our partners and make our programs more effective. We also regularly send collected feedback to Charity Navigator, the world’s largest nonprofit evaluator, so donors can learn exactly how their dollars are supporting the critical work Ozarks Food Harvest is doing for people facing hunger.

One of the greatest needs expressed by our agencies is new or updated equipment. Many of their locations lack adequate food storage space, meal service supplies or walk-in coolers and freezers. To help these agencies, we are introducing a new round of equipment and infrastructure grants. Funds from these grants will cover key program costs that are directly related to sustaining and expanding hunger-relief efforts. Examples of eligible expenses include new cold storage units, shelving, forklifts, pop-up tents, wagons, computers, internet service and food purchases through The Food Bank.

Last year, Ozarks Food Harvest was able to provide $303,587 in grants for 45 hunger-relief partners. Our friends at FEED food pantry in Mountain View received funds to purchase a new walk-in freezer, and they were quickly able to increase their distribution efforts in Howell County.

“Before, we were having to limit our orders and worry about how to properly store the items that we had leftover. Now, we are able to order more food and make the food that we have last longer. This allows us to spread out the food and reach more families on a month-to-month basis,” said Jennett Haynes, executive director at FEED food pantry.

We are excited for the opportunity to provide our partners with the equipment they need this year so they can continue to increase their distribution efforts. We will continue to monitor feedback and provide them with the best experience possible as they come alongside us to Transform Hunger into Hope.