Investing Nearly $400,000 in our Rural Communities

Investing Nearly $400,000 in our Rural Communities

April 14, 2023 in Bart's Hope Notes Harvest Time Newsletter

Ozarks Food Harvest will invest nearly $400,000 this year to provide nutritious food to rural families facing hunger thanks to two recent grants from Feeding America and Tyson Foods.

These grants come at the perfect time as Ozarks Food Harvest is experiencing a higher demand for food assistance than during the height of the pandemic. On average, we served 50,000 individuals each month in 2020 and 2021. Now, we’re serving an average of 62,000 individuals each month.

That increase in demand may come as a shock. After all, many COVID emergency programs have ended across Missouri, unemployment is lower and things look a little more normal than before. The issue is we’re still dealing with the lingering effects of the pandemic. High food costs, inflation, and supply chain disruptions continue to make food access more difficult for families facing hunger, especially in rural communities. These areas, which were already facing hard times before the pandemic, simply haven’t had the chance to recover.

The pandemic exacerbated the barriers rural communities face such as access to nutritious food, lack of a vehicle, job opportunities or fear of judgement for seeking help. One of our neighbors facing hunger, Juva Dobbs, said, “Groceries are so high, any help we can get is special. Fruits and vegetables are hard to come by.” Families living in these communities need help, so they can focus on getting back on their feet and not on where the next meal will come from.

That’s why this year we’re focusing on equitable food access for families living in rural southwest Missouri. Equitable access for us is about working to ensure a family living in a rural area such as Shannon County has the same access to food as a family living in Greene County.

Ozarks Food Harvest will use these grants funds to bring truckloads of fresh produce and protein every month for the next year to families living in rural areas most affected by hunger.

The food and delivery will also be completely free for these communities and the families living in them. Our charitable partners won’t have to worry about the cost of gas or increased food prices; they just have to worry about getting food into the hands of families that need it.

Thank you to everyone who supports our mission to Transform Hunger into Hope. Your help ensures equitable access so everyone has a seat, and a meal, at the table.