Ozarks Food Harvest Announces “Compassion in Action” Campaign

December 12, 2006

SPRINGFIELD, Mo.— Ozarks Food Harvest, the only food bank for 29 counties in Southwest Missouri, announces a capital campaign to build a new regional food distribution center in North Springfield.

“In 2005 we were forced to turn down over a quarter million pounds of food because there was simply no where to store it,” said past board president and member of the campaign leadership committee Jim Lewis. “Ozarks Food Harvest has reached the point where the current facility is preventing The Food Bank from accepting all the donations it could be receiving. The new building not only gives us more space to accept and distribute more food, but also the right kind of space, specifically refrigerated space.”

Ozarks Food Harvest serves more than 300 agency partners such as shelters, soup kitchens, senior centers, pantries and day cares in Southwest Missouri. These agencies rely on Ozarks Food Harvest to supply their pantries for local distribution, and the construction of a new food bank warehouse will provide more food.

“In the last four years, the request for food assistance has increased by 44 percent,” Executive Director Bart Brown said. “We distributed more than four million pounds of food last year to our agencies.”

According to Lewis, the construction of the new building will allow The Food Bank to double its current distribution of food to the impoverished working poor, children and elderly in the Ozarks.

“Currently, The Food Bank helps more than 37,000 people in 29 counties in the Ozarks each month, and our community can’t afford to turn food away. This new facility means more food to more people in the Ozarks,” Lewis said.

Brown also said the new facility will allow Ozarks Food Harvest to expand its innovative hunger relief programs including the Kids Cafe® after-school feeding program, the Food for Thought™ weekend backpack program, Club FUN™ and Full Circle Garden™ nutritional education programs and a new mobile food pantry program.

“Our long term goal is to provide multifaceted solutions that eliminate the cause of hunger, while educating the public about the prevalence of hunger in the Ozarks,” Brown said.

“We have gratefully accepted our first choice in property, located in an industrial park near Kearney and Hwy 65, as a lead gift from the Charlie O’Reilly Family and Tom Rankin,” said Michael Mattson, Board President.

“Of the 37,000 people who receive food from Ozarks Food Harvest each month, 14,400 of them are either children under the age of 18 or older adults over age 65,” Mattson said. “It is important that our donors know they are not only improving lives, but in some cases saving lives when they donate to Ozarks Food Harvest.”

Ozarks Food Harvest was founded in 1983 as a joint project of the Council of Churches of the Ozarks and the Southwest Missouri Office on Aging. The Food Bank was separately incorporated in order to qualify for membership in America’s Second Harvest, The Nation’s Food Bank Network. Since 1989, Ozarks Food Harvest has been an independent, self-funded and governed charity.

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