Letter to the Editor: Volunteer need increases this summer

July 14, 2010

While most Ozarkers look forward to these hot summer months, those of us working on the frontlines of hunger relief know it’s the toughest season to get through.

We brace ourselves for a perfect storm — when schools are closed for summer break and the number of low-income families needing help soars, but at the same time, there’s less food to distribute due to the decline in school, business and community food drives.

Perhaps most surprising is that we’re seeing a drastic decline in the number of individuals stepping up to volunteer their time here at Ozarks Food Harvest.

Sure, family vacations and summer cookouts are top of mind, but the only thing on our clients’ minds this summer is how they will find food to feed their families. Hunger certainly does not take a summer vacation —especially in Missouri, where child food insecurity rates rank fifth in the nation, according to a Feeding America study released July 1.

We’ve just wrapped up our latest fiscal year at Ozarks Food Harvest, distributing a record 8.5 million pounds of food — an 88 percent increase over the past two years — to our Network of more than 300 member agencies such as food pantries across southwest Missouri. The truth is this simply would not have been possible without volunteers who make it happen.

Our generous volunteers selflessly give their time accepting, sorting and repacking food donations for distribution, but there’s one small problem: we need more of them! Requests for food assistance unfortunately continue to increase, especially this summer, and we need the community’s help to feed the more than 155,000 unduplicated individuals our Network serves.

Ozarks Food Harvest’s Volunteer Center is open to individuals 14 and up daily and on Tuesday evenings and Saturdays for groups. Those interested can schedule an appointment by contacting Jennifer at or calling (417) 865-3411.

I encourage you to go to to learn more about volunteer opportunities at your community food bank. Please know that anyone interested in helping during a time not noted should also call to see if special hours can be arranged.

Just one hour of your time helps provide 105 meals to our hungry neighbors.

—Lindsey Neddenriep, Ozarks Food Harvest Public Relations

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