When the excitement from the holidays starts to fade, families still continue to struggle with hunger in our community. Unfortunately during this time, food and fund drives start to die down.
As the year is coming to a close, I’ve found myself reflecting on how fortunate we are to be a part of such a compassionate community. This past winter we established Harvest Circle, our group of monthly supporters. I consider these donors to be the heart of The Food Bank.
We rely on their continuous support to sustain us so we can provide 17 million meals each year to the families and seniors who struggle to put food on the table.
Wages in the Ozarks are much-lower than the national average, and in Springfield, wages are at just 60 percent compared to what people are earning nationally.
It’s heartbreaking to think about the folks in our community who face obstacles securing housing and transportation because of low-wages, causing them to take on debt just to cover the everyday costs of living.
But thankfully, we live in a community who doesn’t turn its back on our neighbors.
The holiday season presents a wonderful opportunity to reflect on the accomplishments and challenges of the year, as well as the opportunities that lie ahead.
Ozarks Food Harvest once again had a record distribution year, adding new member agencies, donation partners and growing its programs that serve the community every day of the year.
We recently met Elvin at the Least of These food pantry in Christian County. He worked his entire life and even served as a member of our military. But living on a fixed income and only $60 per month in retirement benefits, he and his wife struggle to have enough food.
“If you run into some doctor bills or different things, it’s a real strain on anyone’s budget,” Elvin shared. “I’ve cut down the portions that I consume from time to time, and I’ll do it again if I have to.”
“When I was really young I walked in the kitchen thinking, ‘What’s for breakfast?’ But there was nothing in the cabinets,” Kitiana said. “My mother caught me digging in the cabinets and said, ‘Sorry, we can’t have anything for breakfast, lunch or dinner today.’ So we just snacked a little. It made me feel so hungry. It felt pretty bad.”
For the past 22 years, hundreds of people in southwest Missouri have come together on Thanksgiving Day for Turkey Trot.
This fun Thanksgiving tradition doubles as a food drive, and has collected more than 85,500 pounds of food for The Food Bank since 2001.
As supporters of Ozarks Food Harvest, we know about the urgent and daily needs of the people in our community who struggle with hunger. It’s heartbreaking and oftentimes unimaginable. For those of us who don’t have to make hard choices between paying for food and other basic necessities, understanding what this might feel like can be difficult.
The month is all about taking an action to help our neighbors in need, whether that is collecting food or funds, volunteering or advocating for our mission.
We share with you all year about the one in five kids and one in seven adults who struggle with hunger. September affords so many opportunities to help those folks and is a great way for first time donors to get involved in our mission.
This summer, Ozarks Food Harvest began a new partnership with Hiland Dairy to provide fresh milk to pantries and feeding sites.
Hiland provides milk at a deep discount to hunger-relief agencies through the Milk to My Plate Program and delivers the milk right to the agencies’ doors.