On June 28, Ozarks Food Harvest was privileged to partner with 12 local businesses for the United Way of the Ozarks Day of Caring.
Nearly two years have passed since the Zone 1 Blitz began in northwest Springfield. During the blitz, over 300 organizations— including Ozarks Food Harvest—committed to help improve the lives of residents in the northwest quadrant of Springfield. Projects included weatherization upgrades for homes, new sidewalk construction, bus stop additions, an expansion of affordable internet access and an increase to food access across Zone 1.
Since 2015, food access in Greene County has increased by 73 percent. And through 11 food pantries in Zones 1 and 2, 5 million meals—nearly $8 million worth of food— were distributed by Ozarks Food Harvest. The Food Bank also distributed 512,100 meals to Springfield Public Schools through the backpack program over the past two years. All of Ozarks Food Harvest’s programs are ongoing and slated for strategic growth both in Zone 1 and across Springfield.
Hunger and poverty go hand in hand, and solving the issue is an important subject to tackle if we want to build a better Springfield. Although many Zone 1 residents hold steady jobs and work hard to support their families, they still have trouble putting food on the table. Ozarks Food Harvest joined forces with community partners including Community Foundation of the Ozarks, the Northwest Project and others to address these root causes of poverty.
Emily, a 5th grader in Greene County, knows what it’s like to feel hungry and is grateful for how Ozarks Food Harvest provides for her family. “My dad’s money from work goes to bills, and the food bags give my family food for each week. I’m thankful for the food bags.”
There are many families just like Emily’s all across Springfield. But with Ozarks Food Harvest, they can rest assured that they will get the food they need.
As a supporter of The Food Bank and member of this community, I believe in the hard work that Ozarks Food Harvest is doing to feed our neighbors in need and better the community.
Without the food pantries located in Zone 1, thousands of people in northwest Springfield would have gone to bed hungry over the past two years.
I encourage you to learn more about how the Zone 1 Blitz is improving the lives of families across the community. It’s amazing to see how people are joining together to make this happen. By supporting Ozarks Food Harvest, you can help hungry people living in northwest Springfield—and across the 28 counties The Food Bank serves.
I believe that if we all come together and offer what we have—whether it’s our time, our money, our services or something else— that we can create a better community.
Charlie O’Reilly is the vice-chair of O’Reilly Automotive’s Board of Directors, a hunger-relief advocate and supporter of Ozarks Food Harvest.
Throughout the month, Ozarks Food Harvest and other hunger-relief organizations across the country will shed light on food insecurity and how the community can help.
According to the latest Map the Meal Gap data from Feeding America, 19.6 percent of children in southwest Missouri are food insecure. That amounts to 50,590 kids under the age of 18 that might not know where their next meal will come from.
Many of these children rely on free or reduced-price meals at school throughout the year. But when school closes for the summer, fear and hunger can set in.
For the past five years, members of Wesley United Methodist Church have volunteered in the Ozarks Food Harvest warehouse on the first Tuesday evening of every month.
Every September, food banks, advocacy groups and individuals from across the country unite to fight against hunger. It’s easy to get involved! Throughout the month, The Food Bank has a variety of events planned to help make a difference in southwest Missouri.
Each year, around 2,300 volunteers from businesses and organizations across the Ozarks take time out of their workdays to help more than 100 nonprofits during United Way of the Ozark’s Day of Caring.
Join us for the fifth annual Empty Bowls event! Ozarks Food Harvest and Panera Bread are raising awareness of hunger while supporting The Food Bank’s feeding programs. To participate, stop by Panera on Sept. 28 to make a donation and receive a ceramic or wooden bowl handcrafted by a local artist as well as a meal of soup and bread.
The empty bowls serve as a reminder of those struggling with hunger in southwest Missouri. All the money raised from this year’s event will support children, families and seniors in need.
Artists: Pledge your bowls
Ozarks Food Harvest is partnering with Panera Bread for Empty Bowls 2018. The annual event, set for Sept. 28, raises awareness of hunger in southwest Missouri.
With a donation to OFH, event-goers will receive a bowl of soup, a baguette and a handcrafted empty bowl to take home. The creations, ranging from pottery to carved wood, serve as a reminder of the thousands of “empty bowls” found on dinner tables across the Ozarks each night.
This event could not be successful without the help from community artists who are willing to donate bowls. All funds raised at Empty Bowls go directly to feeding families in the Ozarks. Can you help make the event a success this year?
For questions, contact Community Engagement Coordinator Thomas Cunningham, or call (417) 865-3411, ext. 137. We would be happy to schedule a pickup!
On Saturday, May 12, people in the Ozarks came together to help Stamp out Hunger. To participate, residents placed bags of nonperishable food items near their mailboxes. Throughout the day, letter carriers picked up the bags, organized products and delivered food to Ozarks Food Harvest’s food pantries.