Volunteers play key role during Stamp Out Hunger

Sandy Hayton spotted a green bag underneath a mailbox while her husband navigated the roads of northeast Columbia.

“There’s food,” she announced as he pulled over to the side. She exited, grabbed the bag and added it to the growing pile of food donation bags in the couple’s van.

It is a scene that played out again and again across The Food Bank’s 32-county service area during the National Association of Letter Carrier’s 25th annual Stamp Out Hunger food drive. Food and funds are still coming in, and a total amount raised should be available in the coming weeks.

Rich and Sandy Hayton have participated in the drive for the past decade. They originally got involved through the First United Methodist Church in Jefferson City. After retiring from their respective state jobs and moving to Columbia, they opted to continue to participate in the nationwide drive.

“Never miss an opportunity for Christian fellowship,” Rich said, adding that he is always heartened by the generosity of those who give during the event.

Randall and Kirsten Adams have also participated for years. Randall got involved after starting his career with the postal service in 2004. These days, both he and his wife, Kirsten, who also works at the post office, take the day off to be a part of the event.

"Every year it gets better," Randall said. "I know friends who have used the pantry, and we know this is contributing to a good cause. It keeps kids fed."

Volunteers are also critical to the success of the drive, helping collect food along postal routes and sorting non-perishable items at post offices in Columbia, Jefferson City and other communities.

“Stamp Out Hunger is a wonderful day of collecting food and funds to help feed neighbors in need,” said Lindsay Young Lopez, The Food Bank’s executive director. “Volunteers make it an even more rewarding experience. Thank you to everyone who helped out this year.”

Helping families in Miller County

“We begged, we borrowed, we struggled.”

That’s how Sheena provided for her three children for several months when she did not have access to work or a vehicle. The Miller County resident has since secured a job and last month was able to drive to Rocky Mount food pantry to stock up on groceries.

“This will really help me stretch my check,” she said, adding that she is making minimum wage. 

The Rocky Mount Church pantry is up and running in a new building after operating out of the church basement for nearly two decades. The new building, made possible through a grant and numerous
in-kind donations, opened this past summer. Pastor Dan Duckworth and his wife Marilyn are serving about 2,000 people every month.

Another client, Mable, relies on the pantry monthly. Her husband is a retired concrete worker and she raised five children. The couple now lives on Social Security. 

Mable stressed that nothing she picks up from the pantry is wasted.

“We use everything we get here,” she said during her March visit. When asked what she would do without it, she said the couple would "skimp."

Mable said she appreciates those who are in a position to donate to make The Food Bank possible.

“Thank you,” Sheena agreed. “This is a massive help.”

Yager nominated for annual Hero Award

Some heroes wear hairnets. Carl Yager is one of them.

Carl is a regular fixture at The Food Bank, coming in every Tuesday and Thursday morning. A Navy veteran, he has been volunteering since his wife passed away in 2012 and has logged more than 2,000 hours. That works out to 250 work days.

The Food Bank has nominated Carl for the Columbia Daily Tribune’s annual Hero Award, an honor that recognizes volunteers making a difference in the community.

Carl has made a difference both in and outside of Columbia. In The Food Bank’s Volunteer Room, he is known for helping newcomers learn the ropes and for making others feel welcome. In 2013, he ventured outside of the facility and worked with The Food Bank staff to survey clients at pantries and soup kitchens throughout our 32-county service area. He was named The Food Bank’s Volunteer of the Month that September.

“We appreciate Carl’s commitment to The Food Bank,” says Melanie Lake, volunteer programs coordinator. “He has really become a valuable part of our team, not only saving us money in avoided labor costs but also creating a positive environment.”

The Hero Awards are scheduled to be announced on April 24.

Taking cardboard boat building to another level

Ruben and Corrie Bolton show off Float Your Boat's first-ever solely cardboard boat.

Ruben and Corrie Bolton show off Float Your Boat's first-ever solely cardboard boat.

Ruben Bolton and his daughter Corrie took this year’s cardboard boat challenge to a whole new level.

The duo built a boat entirely of cardboard: No duct tape; no glue; no paint.

Prior to the races at Float Your Boat on Saturday, Bolton admitted he was not sure the boat, titled “Nothing but Cardboard,” would make it across Bass Pro Shops Lake. Not only did it float, it beat the competition in speed.

Nearly 50 cardboard creations set sail for The Food Bank this past weekend, raising money to help feed neighbors in need. The People’s Choice Award brought in more than $8,000, while the total raised during the event is still being calculated.

For Bolton, the challenge was spiritual. The cardboard represented the purity of his beliefs. While extras such as glue and caulk may make a boat seem more equipped for the water, Bolton said he wanted to put his faith solely in the foundation.

Others participating in the sixth annual cardboard boat regatta say boat building was an exercise in teamwork.

“Definitely a lot of team building,” said Lisa Matthiesen with the Centralia High School SMART program. Sixth graders in the afterschool program constructed their boat, learning math, science and engineering along the way. “It was a good learning experience.”

Edward Jones of Columbia participated in Float Your Boat for the first time this year.

“We heard about it several years ago,” said Laura Loomis, captain of her team’s boat. “We decided to do it and jumped in with both feet.”

While Edward Jones’ “Rub a Dub Duckie” boat—complete with balloons and a trail of tiny ducklings—did not win its heat, it did take the “Best Use of a Theme” prize.

Environmental Dynamics International retained its People’s Choice Award title, raising more than $2,000 for The Food Bank.

“Every year, this is our jam,” said Sherri Redmon. “We have bake sales, fundraisers and get employees involved all across the company. They look forward to this.”

EDI also had fun with its boat theme, recreating Lego Batman using cardboard costumes.

Redmon stressed that the fun is secondary to the mission of The Food Bank.

“We float their boat,” she said. “They float our spirits.”

Prize Winners
People’s Choice: Environmental Dynamics International, “Lego Batman”
Best in Show: Floating Elmerinos, “Elmerine” Ghostbusters
Can’t Believe it’s Cardboard: Ruben Bolton, “Nothing But Cardboard”
Best Use of a Theme: Edward Jones, “Rub-a-Dub Duckie”
Ugliest Boat: CAFNR Student Council, “Boats N Heifers”
Titanic Award for Best Sinking: Eat Mo Carp, “Carpe Diem”
Bass Pro Shops Award: Professional Contractors & Engineers, “Corrugated Corsair”
Pirate Class Award: Unilever, Monster Truck Inc.

Short Course Time Winners
1st: Floating Elmerinos, “Elmerine”
2nd: Wild Folk Unschool, “Mystery Canoe
3rd: Mill Creek Cougars, “Cougar Cruisers”

Long Course Time
1st: Professional Contractors & Engineers, “Corrugated Corsair”
2nd: KOPN, “Patty Mae”
3rd: Unileaver, “SS Minnie”

Central Pantry volunteer uses opportunity to learn English

When Victor moved from the Ukraine to Columbia to be closer to his daughter and her family, he knew the first thing he needed to do was learn English.

He also wanted to find a way to learn the language while helping others. That is why he signed up to volunteer at Central Pantry.

“People here help feed people,” he said. “It is very kind. Very, very good.”

Victor knew no English when he started volunteering a year ago, Sean Ross, pantry supervisor, said. Ross paired him up with another volunteer who speaks several languages, including Russian. She translated, helping Victor get to the point where he was able to seek employment. He now works at Kraft-Heinz but still lends a hand at the pantry.

“People here are helpful," he said. "I like that.”

Ross described Victor as a “work horse” who rarely slows down.

“He is willing to do anything—stock shelves, take out the trash,” Ross said. “He’s full-speed ahead 100 percent of the time.”

Mill Creek teams prepare to set sail

Matt, Mac and Jylon work on a Candyland-themed boat in Megan Kinkade's fourth-grade class at Mill Creek Elementary. The class is one of several from the school participating in this year's Float Your Boat event on April 22.

Matt, Mac and Jylon work on a Candyland-themed boat in Megan Kinkade's fourth-grade class at Mill Creek Elementary. The class is one of several from the school participating in this year's Float Your Boat event on April 22.

John Gerhart’s fourth-grade class at Mill Creek Elementary is taking boat-building to a whole new level.

This year, the students are constructing a house boat.

“All the kids will have their own room to decorate,” Gerhart said. “The kids will do their own measuring and design.”

The boat will debut at the sixth annual Float Your Boat for The Food Bank event on Saturday, April 22.

Gerhart’s class has participated in Float Your boat every year, using the fund-raising event as a project to learn measurements and other mathematical and engineering skills. Last year, his class’s sports car-themed boat took the Bass Pro Shops Award.

But the project has a much larger meaning for the youngsters, he added.

“This is a way for them to reach out and help the community,” Gerhart said.

Students in fellow fourth-grade teacher Megan Kinkade’s class agreed.

“My favorite part is that it raises money for The Food Bank,” said Jylon, a student who, along with Mac and Matt, spent last week working on the bough of their class’s boat. “We are thinking about other people.”

Kincade’s class is creating a floating replica of Candyland, complete with game pieces.

Gerhart this year also recruited more teachers to join in, including Janette Henry and her fifth-grade class.

Several of her students participated last year and that experience has allowed them to step up, she said. “It’s really fun to watch them become leaders.”

Float Your Boat challenges teams to construct boats made solely of cardboard and duct tape. Boats will then compete in races that will begin at 11 a.m. Spectators are encouraged to arrive around 10 a.m.

Food drive doubles as architectural challenge

The winning team with The Food Bank staff shows off its canned replica of Jesse Hall.

The winning team with The Food Bank staff shows off its canned replica of Jesse Hall.

A tropical beach scene. A life-size replica of Mr. Peanut. A Mario Kart screen capture. An alien from Dr. Who.

In the end, it was a miniature Jesse Hall—made completely of canned food—that took top design honors at the University of Missouri’s Department of Information Technology's second DOIT Food Drive.

The drive challenges IT teams to design and build structures using canned food and other non-perishable items while also collecting food and funds for The Food Bank.

The Mr. Peanut team took the prize for donating the most during the two-week campaign, which raised more than 4,000 food items and more than $2,200. The upstairs team at the department’s Locust Street building won the design prize. Both teams will be able to display their respective traveling trophies for the year.

The Food Bank team members judged the structures—no easy feat considering the talent of the designs.

Sea, We CAN End Hunger, Palms Down!

The so-called “basement” team at the Locust Street building challenged the old saying that money does not grow on trees. The palm tree combined dollars and donated food items to become a centerpiece of a tropical beach scene. It included rolling “waves” of paper-covered cans, a coconut made of peanut butter jars and a boat carrying hope in the form of funds for those in need.

Nuts About the Buddy Pack Program

On the first floor, Mr. Peanut—his famous monocle included—showcased the Buddy Pack program, which provides weekly bags of food and monthly jars of peanut butter to children in need. “I’m nuts about the Buddy Pack Program,” says the structure, made up of canned food mostly wrapped in yellow paper.

Jesse Hall Stands Tall for The Food Bank

The design-winning Jesse Hall replica was detail-oriented with cans of food wrapped in red paper, decorated like bricks, and marble-esque columns that made the structure instantly recognizable. To add to the campus feel, additional cans featuring photos of students and visitors graced areas around the columns.

Mario Can Help, Too

The IT team at the Telecom Building adopted a tech theme, essentially creating what appeared to be a screen shot of Mario Kart on the wall. The scene feature Mario jumping into the air, surrounded by flowers and other obstacles found in the game.

Exterminate Hunger

IT employees stationed at the Life Sciences Center looked to Dr. Who for inspiration, creating a Dalek and cityscape of cans, bottled water, jerky sticks and other non-perishable goods. The structure looked ominous but promised to only exterminate hunger.

“This is a really fun way to collect food and funds for those in need,” said Kimberly Kent, special events coordinator at The Food Bank. “This year’s structures were really amazing. We appreciate the Department of IT at Mizzou for all of the hard work they put into building the structures.”

Disabled Veteran grateful for food in Macon County

After working as a medic for years, Don began and operated his own construction business before an injury changed his life.

Four years ago, he slipped on tile in his bathroom and hit his head, fracturing his skull. He spent months in rehabilitation, losing some of his memories, much of his mobility and his ability to work.

“Today, I can walk using a cane, but other days I can barely crawl,” said Don, an Air Force Veteran. That is why he is thankful for Macon County Ministries Food Pantry. Every month, Don goes to an early distribution open only to severely disabled individuals who live below the poverty line. “I live on a very limited income,” he said. “I would go hungry without this.”

Don says he is able to get by because of nutrition from The Food Bank and his partially subsidized apartment.

Even for those who can work, employment is tough to find in Macon County, said Linda Ellis, who runs the pantry. “Jobs are limited here,” she said. “Our clients, of course,are underprivileged, but everybody here today is living below the poverty line." The Macon County clients are also grateful and gracious, she added. "It’s friends helping friends.”

Macon County Ministries Food Pantry serves disabled clients on the Monday before the third Tuesday of the month, with regular distribution on the third Tuesday. Atypical distribution serves about 350 families, Ellis said.

Alvin,another client, said he and his wife rely on the produce, meat and other products they receive at the pantry every month. “I’m 82 years old and on disability,” he said. “We don’t get much money, so this is nice.”

To those who make The Food Bank possible, Don expressed gratitude. "Thank you," he said. "One hundred percent, thank you."

Making a difference in Putnam County

A mostly older population in the town of Lucerne gathered at the Christian church on a chilly morning earlier this month expressed a lot of appreciation for The Food Bank’s monthly Mobile Pantry.

Sharon even got teary eyed thinking about what she and her husband would do without it. They live on one disability check, and Sharon doubts they would have produce or meat if they had to purchase it.

“Without The Food Bank, we wouldn’t be able to make it through the month,” she said before collecting the meat, corn, potatoes and other products available. “It’s a blessing.”

Lucerne is in Putnam County at the northwest tip of The Food Bank’s 32-county service area. It has a population of roughly 85 residents, about a quarter of whom live below the poverty line.

Flo has lived in the area her entire life. She knew most of the people at the Mobile Pantry.

“Everybody here appreciates The Food Bank,” she said, scanning the waiting room.

Flo worked at a nearby nursing home for 15 years before quitting a few years ago because of health issues. She now relies on The Food Bank for produce and other healthy food.

“Fruit helps, but it costs a lot, so the produce is great,” she said. “Thank you. I wouldn’t have any nutritional food without it, and that’s what I need the most.”

Barbara attended the mobile for the first time in several months. Her husband of 57 years passed away on Christmas Eve, and medical and funeral expenses have taken a toll.

“I’m on Social Security, so this helps.”

Leona agreed, saying most of the senior citizens at the mobile were on limited incomes.

“There are a lot of seniors in need here,” she said. “I am a senior, and I don’t have money for food. This is very, very helpful.”

The residents of Putnam also give back. About a dozen volunteers stood in below-freezing temperatures to help pass out the food.

Sharon would also love to be able to give, joking that if she were ever to hit "the jackpot," she would donate it to The Food Bank.

Those who do donate, she said, “deserve a blessing."

The Food Bank increases distribution in 2016

The 2016 Accomplishments Report is now available. 

The 2016 Accomplishments Report is now available. 

The Food Bank for Central & Northeast Missouri increased the pounds of food distributed across its 32-county service area in 2016.

A total of 31,899,193 pounds were distributed to residents through pantries, soup kitchens, shelters and other partner agencies, as well as through schools and mobile food pantries. That is an increase of more than 400,000 pounds over distribution in 2015.

“We are pleased to have been able to increase the pounds of food distributed this past year,” said Lindsay Young Lopez, Executive Director of The Food Bank. “We appreciate donors, partners and friends across our service area who helped make that possible.”

The Food Bank for Central & Northeast Missouri provides food at no charge to agencies or clients—and is the only food bank of the six in Missouri to do so. Food distributed last year had a wholesale value of more than $53 million.

Because of The Food Bank’s affiliation with Feeding America and the ability to purchase bulk food at significantly reduced costs, every $10 secures $210 worth of groceries. 

A breakdown of where food was distributed can be found in the 2016 Accomplishments Report. The report also includes inaugural members of The Food Bank’s new giving societies. The Perennial Society recognizes those donors who have made lifetime gifts of $10,000 or more; the Garden Society honors businesses that have donated cumulative gifts of $10,000. The Annual Club lists those who gave at least $1,000 in 2016. And the Heirloom Society recognizes those who contributed through a Planned Gift in 2016.

The report, mailed to households across The Food Bank’s service area last week, may be downloaded here.

Morgan Stanley provides $25,000 grant

COLUMBIA, Feb. 3, 2017 – The Food Bank for Central & Northeast Missouri has announced the award of a new grant from the Morgan Stanley Foundation to support the food bank’s fresh produce program. The funds will be used to increase the availability of fruits and vegetables for children through a new initiative that will increase the food bank’s ability to access, transport and store fresh produce.

“We are proud to continue our commitment of providing fresh produce to kids and families and to ensure that they get the essentials for a healthier life,” said Joan Steinberg, Global Head of Philanthropy at Morgan Stanley and President of the Morgan Stanley Foundation. 

The funding will allow The Food Bank to more than double its capacity for fresh fruits and vegetables by installing a new racking system within the warehouse cooler. These racks will allow produce pallets to be stacked, making better use of vertical storage space. The racking will be built at an angle, allowing pallets to slide as they are added or removed; eliminating the need for forklifts or other equipment and increasing efficiency.

The system will provide storage for 112 produce pallets, or approximately 112,000 pounds of produce at a time. That is an increase of the current storage capacity of 56 pallets, or 56,000 pounds

“By increasing access to fresh fruits and vegetables, we are able to provide the people we serve with the building blocks for a healthy life,” said Daryle Bascom, director of operations. “We are excited to work with Morgan Stanley to help improve the health of the 104,000 people we serve monthly.”

These awards build on the Morgan Stanley Foundation’s longstanding commitment to children’s health.  Feeding America also serves as a lead national partner in the United States for Morgan Stanley Healthy Cities, an initiative that brings together national and local nonprofits to create a linked network of nutritious food, safe play spaces, and wellness education and health screening for children and families of communities in need. 

About The Food Bank
Through empowerment, education and partnerships, The Food Bank for Central & Northeast Missouri brings together community resources to feed people in need in a 32-county service area.

About Feeding America
Feeding America is the nationwide network of 200 food banks that leads the fight against hunger in the United States.  Together, we provide food to more than 46 million people through 60,000 food pantries and meal programs in communities across America.  Feeding America also supports programs that improve food security among the people we serve; educates the public about the problem of hunger; and advocates for legislation that protects people from going hungry. Individuals, charities, businesses and government all have a role in ending hunger.  Donate.   Volunteer. Advocate.  Educate.  Together we can solve hunger. Visit www.feedingamerica.org, find us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.

Machens Dealerships, Columbia Honda contribute to The Food Bank

Joe Machens Dealerships and Columbia Honda donated $18,116.30 and 1,865 pounds of food to The Food Bank for Central & Northeast Missouri this morning.

Dealerships in Columbia and Jefferson City participated in the annual Hunger Hits the Road campaign, during which a donation is made for every vehicle sold.

“We are so grateful for the Machens dealerships and the investment they make in The Food Bank,” said Executive Director Lindsay Young Lopez. “The continued community outreach of Joe Machens Dealerships and Columbia Honda in partnership with McLarty Automotive Group are bringing hope to so many of our neighbors in need through this generous contribution.”

Because of The Food Bank’s affiliation with Feeding America and the ability to purchase bulk items at much-reduced costs, the monetary donation will secure $380,442 worth of groceries. Combined with the food donation, the campaign will provide more than 3.8 million meals to those in need.

The Food Bank serves approximately 104,000 individuals monthly through 133 pantries, soup kitchens, shelters and other partner agencies.