Ozarks Food Harvest annual food distribution increases record-breaking 20 percent due to COVID-19 response
The Food Bank provided 22 million meals for food-insecure families last fiscal year
SPRINGFIELD, Mo.— Ozarks Food Harvest provided 22 million meals from July 2019 to June 2020, marking another record year of food distribution for food-insecure children, families and seniors in southwest Missouri. The 20 percent increase in distribution is the largest year to year increase in The Food Bank’s 3 7 year history.
The Food Bank contributes its distribution success to innovative strategies that became necessary due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Ozarks Food Harvest implemented increased Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP or food stamps) outreach drive-thru food pantries and additional Mobile Food Pantries.
SNAP outreach contributed 1.2 million meals to Ozarks Food Harvest’s record-breaking distribution and helped bring more than $5.2 million in economic stimulus to southwest Missouri. An additional 1.1 million meals valued at $1.8 million were distributed due to the increased need caused by COVID 19. More than 425,000 meals were distributed through Mobile Food Pantries to help more than 25,000 furloughed workers and others struggling during the pandemic.
“COVID 19 has taken a tremendous toll on our community and brought many of our family and friends face to face with the harsh realities of food insecurity for the first time,” said Dr. Meera Scarrow, OB/GYN at Mercy Hospital in Springfield and Ozarks Food HarvestHarvest’s board president. “The Food Bank will continue to do everything we can to make sure everyone in the Ozarks can put food on the table.”
Before The Food Bank temporarily suspended its volunteer program due to COVID 19, more than 3,000 volunteers spent more than 21,600 hours sorting and packing meals. Temporary workers and members of the Misso uri National Guard worked more than 14,800 hours at Ozarks Food Harvest to ensure food distribution continued during the pandemic.
“The pandemic presented many challenges, but we quickly came up with solutions to provide food for people who lost their jobs, parents who needed help feeding their kids and anyone else who was struggling,” said Bart Brown, president/CEO of Ozarks Food Harvest. “Hundreds of donors stepped up to help us make that happen, and we’re so grateful for their contributions and commitment to our mission.”
Through 270 hunger-hunger-relief partners, The Food Bank reaches over 261,000 unduplicated children, families and seniors each year.
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About Ozarks Food Harvest — The Food Bank
Ozarks Food Harvest is the Feeding America food bank for southwest Missouri, providing food to 270 organizations across 28 Ozarks counties serving 261,000 unduplicated individuals. The Food Bank provides more than 22 million meals annually. Learn more at ozarksfoodharvest.org, facebook.com/ozarksfoodharvest or twitter.com/ozksfoodharvest.