September is Hunger Action Month at The Food Bank. A thirty-day campaign devoted to hunger-relief education, awareness, and advocacy. All month long, community members and business partners help Ozarks Food Harvest bring attention to the issue of hunger in southwest Missouri.
“Volunteering is at the heart of all FFA chapters,” James Asher shares. Asher is the National FFA sponsor in Willard, Missouri. “If you look across the state, or even on a national level, you’ll see FFA out there volunteering. We like to do a service-based project for the community; it brings out the best in our students.” In addition to other volunteer efforts, the chapter he leads gives an entire day of volunteering to Ozarks Food Harvest each month.
So many of us look forward to summer and make plans to get as much out of the season as possible. For kids in the Ozarks who may face hunger, summer is simply something to get through. Without the meals they receive at school, the days can be long and difficult.
The Food Assistance & Hunger in the Heartland 2021 study gave us important insights about the people we serve in southwest Missouri, but alongside the client demographics, this study provided a comprehensive look at our charitable partners who provide food to our neighbors in need.
Ozarks Food Harvest is a big operation. It’s not just a food bank, it’s a hunger-relief network with 270 partner charities, eight direct relief programs, and volunteer gardens to grow fresh produce. Plus, it’s a mass food distribution system that covers 28 counties – over 20,000 square miles – and distributes 70% of the charitable food in the Ozarks.
Jerod Morey has a front row seat to the complicated world of teenagers and has witnessed how summer hunger, especially for teens, can be a struggle. “They want to be included and accepted, and they want to have a meal in front of them. Not everyone has those things.” Morey said.
Sharon Cook is a problem-solver. Once an engineer and a manager, she has sharpened her analytical skills to a fine point. When facing retirement, she had to decide what to do with her time, and she knew she wanted to give back to her community.