Ozarks Food Harvest serving Summer Sacks to children in need
SPRINGFIELD, Mo.— Ozarks Food Harvest will distribute more than 10,000 Summer Sacks — an extra 60,000 meals — to hungry children in southwest Missouri, beginning late this month through the second week of August.
The new Summer Sacks initiative is in addition to Ozarks Food Harvest’s existing Summer Food Program for children, administered at 16 sites in eight counties. The regional food bank is providing the extra food to help combat childhood hunger in the summer months when there is no access to the free school lunch program.
“When school ends this month, so do free school lunches,” said OFH President/CEO Bart Brown. “We want the children we serve not to worry about their next meal this summer so they can enjoy being a kid. As part of our strategic plan, we’ve pledged to provide more meals to at-risk children and this is one way we will accomplish this.”
OFH will distribute the monthly Summer Sacks to six emergency food assistance sites serving children, including About Our Kids in Lamar, Mo., serving Lamar, Golden City and the Barton County area; Boys & Girls Club of Southwest Missouri in Joplin, Mo., serving the Jasper and Newton County area; National Heights Baptist Church in Springfield, Mo., serving Springfield; OFH’s Mobile Food Pantry distributions in Carthage, Mo., serving River Street Food Pantry clients from Carthage and the Jasper County area; OFH’s Mobile Food Pantry distributions in Humansville, Mo., serving Humansville Elementary School students; and the Springfield Community Center, serving Greene County.
Brown says kids who face summer hunger often lack the proper nutrition needed for positive academic performance and healthy psychological development. The Food Bank also reports its 28-county service area has a child food insecurity rate of 24.3 percent — higher than the state of Missouri as a whole — meaning more than 60,000 Ozarks children are at risk of going to bed hungry.
OFH officials estimate more than 800 children will benefit from this new summer program. Families wishing to sign up their children for Summer Sacks should contact one of the six distribution points directly.
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About Ozarks Food Harvest—The Food Bank
Ozarks Food Harvest is the Feeding America food bank for southwest Missouri, serving 250 nonprofit agencies across 28 Ozarks counties. The Food Bank distributes 10 million meals annually to 170,000 unduplicated individuals. OFH celebrates its 30th anniversary in 2013. Learn more at ozarksfoodharvest.org, facebook.com/ozarksfoodharvest or twitter.com/ozksfoodharvest.