Ozarks Food Harvest awards $1 million in grants in response to new University of Missouri hunger data
Grant awards are part of multi-faceted strategy to address hunger across a third of the state of Missouri
SPRINGFIELD, Mo.— Ozarks Food Harvest awarded $1 million in grants this week to more than 70 charities in its hunger-relief network in response to new hunger data from the University of Missouri.
The Food Assistance and Hunger in the Heartland 2021 report, conducted by the MU Interdisciplinary Center for Food Security, found that Ozarks Food Harvest provides more than 70 percent of the food distributed by its network of 270 partners covering a third of the state of Missouri. It also found that 25 percent of charities surveyed from The Food Bank’s network could better serve their clients with improved or additional refrigeration and freezer units, which prompted the grant award.
“When the board saw this data, we immediately released funds for the urgent needs of our network,” said OFH board president Tommy Wohlgemuth of SGC Foodservice. “We recognized the communities we serve needed an emergency investment to help get families on the road to recovery now.”
In addition to $1 million in grant funds, Ozarks Food Harvest’s board of directors has already committed to free food delivery to The Food Bank’s 270 charities to offset increased inflationary costs that were not present when this data was collected. Grants awarded by The Food Bank will be used to purchase additional food, freezers, coolers and other infrastructure items to help feed more children, families and seniors across Ozarks Food Harvest’s 28-county service area.
“This $1 million is an investment in the future of our community’s food system,” said Bart Brown, president/CEO of Ozarks Food Harvest. “We’re being strategic in our response by ensuring charities in our hunger-relief network have the capacity to continue helping their neighbors in need.”
The investment is part of a multi-faceted strategy by The Food Bank to address new needs identified in the University of Missouri’s report. Ozarks Food Harvest’s response includes increasing deliveries through its Mobile Food Pantry program, increasing production and distribution of nutrient-dense food through its Full Circle Gardens program and increasing food distributed to seniors through its Senior Produce program.
According to the report, a third of all clients served by Ozarks Food Harvest are seniors, which is one of the largest demographic increases seen in Ozarks Food Harvest’s history.
Christian Action Ministries in Branson received a grant award through Ozarks Food Harvest’s $1 million investment to purchase a walk-in cooler, a walk-in freezer and a forklift to increase the amount of families served by their organization. “Ozarks Food Harvest has been a true blessing to our ministry, the people of Taney County we serve and folks all over the Ozarks,” said Kevin Huddleston, executive director of Christian Action Ministries. “On behalf of Christian Action Ministries, we cannot thank you enough.”
The Food Assistance and Hunger in the Heartland 2021 report was prepared for Feeding Missouri, the state coalition representing Missouri food banks, using survey data obtained from the six Feeding America food banks in Missouri including Ozarks Food Harvest.
For more information about Ozarks Food Harvest and Missouri’s Food Assistance and Hunger in the Heartland 2021 report, visit ozarksfoodharvest.org.
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About Ozarks Food Harvest — The Food Bank
Ozarks Food Harvest is the Feeding America food bank for southwest Missouri, serving 270 hunger-relief organizations across 28 Ozarks counties. The Food Bank provides 22 million meals annually to more than 261,000 unduplicated individuals. Learn more at ozarksfoodharvest.org, facebook.com/ozarksfoodharvest or twitter.com/ozksfoodharvest.