Rotary Clubs and Ridewell Corporation sponsor new Mobile Food Pantry project

December 21, 2006

Ozarks Food Harvest’s Mobile Food Pantry Dedication Ceremony at First Night, December 31, 2006

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. Rotary Clubs of Springfield and Ridewell Corporation are partnering with Ozarks Food Harvest for The Food Bank’s newest project, the Mobile Food Pantry. The new Mobile Food Pantry truck will allow Ozarks Food Harvest to increase food distribution across the 29 counties it serves.

The first Ozarks Food Harvest Mobile Food Pantry will be dedicated December 31 at 5:15 p.m. in front of the Expo Center as part of the First Night celebration.

Help “fill the truck” and join the fight to end hunger in the Ozarks by bringing nonperishable food items to First Night. There will be “fill the truck” containers at all of the First Night venues, as well as the opportunity to make a monetary contribution to the Mobile Food Pantry project.

Ozarks Food Harvest has experienced a 44 percent increase in the number of people requesting food assistance from its 300 member charities over the past four years. The Mobile Food Pantry is designed to help meet the increased need for food.

The Mobile Food Pantry will make it possible to distribute food directly to individuals without a building. The program will help Ozarks Food Harvest serve communities that may not have existing food pantries or adequate facilities for food distribution.

The five Rotary Clubs of Springfield and Ridewell Corporation have committed to raising funds for the purchase of two Mobile Food Pantry trucks and expenses for the first year of operation. The beverage distribution style trucks have panel doors on both sides of the cargo trailers, which will make it easy for volunteers to distribute food directly from the truck. The trucks are also insulated, allowing The Food Bank to distribute fresh produce and other limited shelf life items.

Many of Ozarks Food Harvest’s member food pantries have limited cooler and freezer space, and have difficulties distributing fresh produce, dairy and frozen food items, according to Bart Brown, executive director of Ozarks Food Harvest.

“About thirty percent of the food donations we receive require cooler or freezer storage, and this program allows us to distribute perishable food items to people right out of the truck. It means more nutritious food on the table for the people who are most in need,” Brown said.

The Rotary Club of Springfield-Downtown, Rotary Club of Springfield-Southeast, Rotary Club of Springfield-Sunrise, Rotary Club of Springfield-North, and the Springfield Rotaract Club are involved in the project. The clubs have a combined membership of over 600 members, and will provide volunteers for Mobile Food Pantry distributions as well as funds for the project. In addition, the Springfield clubs are enlisting the help of other Rotary clubs in Ozarks Food Harvest’s service area as they raise funds for a second Mobile Food Pantry.

“The Springfield Rotary and Rotaract Clubs are excited to partner with Ozarks Food Harvest and Ridewell Corporation for the Mobile Food Pantry project. We are always looking for ways to work cooperatively with other organizations to address the needs of those in our community and beyond,” Tamara de Wild, co-chair of the Rotary Mobile Food Pantry steering committee, said. “The Mobile Food Pantry will provide nutritious food to thousands of people in Southwest Missouri. Since one of the emphases of Rotary is to address the issue of hunger, this project is a great fit for us.”

Ridewell Corporation has pledged a substantial donation toward the program in honor of their 40th anniversary. The Springfield based company manufactures suspensions for the truck, trailer, bus and recreational vehicle industry.

“We were looking for a way to honor the 40th anniversary of our company, and we wanted to do something that fulfilled a need in the community,” John Raidel II said, “This seemed to be a perfect fit, because it helps to fill a community need and it relates to the transportation industry.” The company was founded by his father, John Raidel Sr. in 1967.

“We are so grateful to our partners from Rotary Clubs of Springfield and Ridewell Corporation,” Michael Mattson, board president for Ozarks Food Harvest, said. “Their support has been overwhelming, and will make it possible for us to distribute more nutritious, fresh food to meet the increasing demand for food assistance in our communities.”

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