More than 70 Area Grocery Stores “Check Out Hunger” for The Food Bank

December 13, 2006

SPRINGFIELD, Mo.— Local “home town” grocery store retailers are sponsoring Ozarks Food Harvest’s annual CHECK OUT HUNGER fundraising event November 17 through December 31, 2006. During this holiday time period, shoppers can make a tax-free donation of $1, $3 or $5 with their purchase at the check out to help fight hunger in the Ozarks.

Southwest Missouri grocery store sponsors this year include Akin’s, Country Mart, Dillons, Harter House, Murfin’s Market, Ramey-Price Cutter, Smillie’s IGA, Summer Fresh, Town & Country, and Woods Super Markets.

“Check Out Hunger has allowed us to partner with local retailers to Transform Hunger into Hope™ in the Ozarks, and is vitally important to help us continue to distribute food to needy families and individuals in our communities. One of our objectives is to educate the community about the numbers of people who suffer from hunger here in the Ozarks,” Denise Gibson, Development and Communications Director at Ozarks Food Harvest, said.

The Food Bank provides direct relief programs in addition to its food distribution to more than 300 agencies in the Ozarks. Three of its programs directly serve children, and there are 50,000 children who live in hunger in Southwest Missouri – enough to populate a town the size of Joplin, according to Gibson.

The Food for Thought™ backpack program is one of the most critical programs The Food Bank offers. More than half of the schools in the 29 county service area have 50 percent or more students enrolled in the free and reduced lunch program, with some schools showing 100 percent enrolled. “That is why the Food for Thought™ program is so important. It’s the best way we can ensure these children have access to proper nutrition,” Gibson said.

A school nurse from Ozark County recently told Ozarks Food Harvest a touching story about how important this program is to the children in her schools. One of her students moved away for three months. “When she came back, the first thing she did was bring her backpack into my office and ask for it to be filled,” the nurse said. “Apparently the school she transferred to didn’t offer a backpack program, and she really missed the extra food.”

A counselor from Polk County said one of her kindergarten students saves the food from his weekend backpack to have as after school snacks for the whole week.

The Food Bank serves more than 340 children in 17 schools across Southwest Missouri through its Food for Thought™ program. There are currently more than 320 other children in 16 additional schools that could benefit from this vital program.

This program and others are implemented in addition to the more than four million pounds of food distributed to 37,000 individuals each month in the Ozarks. Ozarks Food Harvest, The Food Bank, is Transforming Hunger into Hope™.

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To learn more, contact Lindsey Neddenriep at (417) 865-3411.