Ozarks Food Harvest offers valuable benefits to partner charities

Ozarks Food Harvest offers valuable benefits to partner charities

October 1, 2021 in Bart's Hope Notes Harvest Time Newsletter

As the only food bank in southwest Missouri, Ozarks Food Harvest is the primary source of food for a network of 270 hunger-relief organizations across 28 counties in Missouri. This means the network depends on the food they receive from us every month. We rely on them to distribute that food to the thousands of individuals facing hunger across the Ozarks. It is our job to supply the food, but we do a lot more.

As the designated Feeding America food bank for southwest Missouri, we solicit and procure large-scale food donations from corporations, food manufacturers, grocery suppliers, and retail locations. Food items are also purchased in bulk at discounted rates to supplement our inventory. Food from a variety of federal programs also funnels through Ozarks Food Harvest to each of the 28 counties we serve.

This food is provided free of charge, and we deliver this food directly to each agency’s doorstep. We want to make sure pantries are equipped to feed the families lining up outside their doors without having to also worry about funding and logistics.

We also are a resource providing training and education. Members are instructed how to view available products and order food online. They are provided software to track clients served and submit monthly reports. We discuss food equity, civil rights, volunteer management, and even advice for sensitive situations.

Food safety training is an important aspect of what we do. Each agency is required to complete the course offered by a certified Ozarks Food Harvest staff member to make sure food stays safe every step of the way. We also notify agencies whenever a food recall affects the product they have on hand to make sure it is not distributed.

Many of these hunger-relief organizations are run by volunteers. We have dedicated staff members who provide support and help them run their pantry as smoothly as possible. We support them in times of natural disasters and advocate state and federal legislatures on their behalf. We even provide SNAP Outreach assistance in order to identify individuals who may qualify for federal charitable food assistance.

For more than 35 years, Ozarks Food Harvest has provided food to charities in southwest Missouri. With the help of Feeding America, we have developed best practices and procedures that are modeled by other food banks across the United States. Opportunities to connect with fellow OFH non-profits in their region are routinely offered, which provides a platform for collaboration.

Additionally, Ozarks Food Harvest secures funding for infrastructure and equipment grants. Many hunger-relief agencies do not have the funding to purchase additional coolers or replace a freezer that has broken. In the past year alone, we’ve provided more than $300,000 to agencies in additional funding and equipment. When added to the value of food provided, Ozarks Food Harvest infused nearly $36.8 million worth of food and funds into the community last year alone.

Thank you for your generous support of Ozarks Food Harvest and our network of hunger-relief partners.