Families in Pettis, Benton counties grateful for help

Amber's youngest son's face lit up when a volunteer handed him a package of candy.
Amber was happy to get crackers, pasta, meat and vegetables from Open Door Service Center in Pettis County, too.
"I need to come once a month," she said. "If not, I wouldn't be able to pay my bills."
Amber works in housekeeping at a hotel in Sedalia. Although technically full time, she does not always get a full 40 hours in, and the uncertainty of her shifts makes it tough to find a second job.
A single mom, the pantry helps her feed her two sons.
"We would be out of food without it," she said.

In Benton County, Chris, his wife and their three children recently moved to Warsaw from the Kansas City area in order to enroll their children in the more rural school district that he attended.

Opting for good schools has come with a sacrifice, however. Work in his field, construction and maintenance, is tougher to find in Benton County.

This past month, he relied on the Benton County Food Pantry to help the family get through while between jobs.

"It's hard," he said, waiting for volunteers to package food items. "It's hard to find work."

While waiting, Chris learned more about how The Food Bank operates, including the fact that distributing food at no charge would not be possible without support of  generous donors.

"I'm thankful for the donors," he said. "Without this, we would be in a really tight spot."

Central Pantry client thankful for produce, extras

Brandy loaded bags of green apples into her cart at Central Pantry.

Last time she was at the grocery store, she said, apples were more than $4 a bag. While she knows her four kids, ages 9 to 17, like apples, the school bus driver has to be frugal with her paycheck.

Brandy has had a route with the Columbia school system's bus service for ten years. She loves her job-"I love all the little kids on my route," she says-but it is not a full-time job. She adds charter routes when possible, but the bus schedule makes it difficult to tack on a second part-time job.

Her 17-year-old son works at a restaurant to help out, but that also adds transportation costs to the family's monthly expenses. Since losing food stamp eligibility earlier this year, she said Central Pantry has been a great resource to ensure that her children get healthy food - and a few treats as well. During her recent trip to the pantry, Brandy grabbed a couple of bags of fruit-flavored gummy snacks, explaining that she never spends money on that sort of product at the store.

"This helps out a lot, providing the extras we can't afford or wouldn't otherwise buy," she says. "My kids get sick of rice, so it's nice to get new stuff here." 

Sydenstricker Donates $5,000 to Buddy Pack Program

Pictured, from left, are Steve Yager with The Food Bank, Millicent Dawdy, Lee Ann Sydenstricker, Nicole Fleak and Kim Sydenstricker, all with the company, and Susan Dublin with The Food Bank.

Pictured, from left, are Steve Yager with The Food Bank, Millicent Dawdy, Lee Ann Sydenstricker, Nicole Fleak and Kim Sydenstricker, all with the company, and Susan Dublin with The Food Bank.

Sydenstricker Headquarters has donated $5,000 to The Food Bank for Central & Northeast Missouri to support the Buddy Pack program in several area counties.

The donation will fund nearly 28 Buddy Packs every week for an entire school year.

Buddy Packs are bags of kid-friendly nutritious food distributed on Fridays to children who receive free or reduced-price lunches at school. In The Food Bank’s 32-county service area, more than half of children qualify for subsidized school meals.

“Unfortunately for many of the children in our communities, Buddy Pack food represents the only nutrition children receive on weekends,” said Susan Dublin, a regional coordinator for The Food Bank. “We are so appreciative of Sydenstricker’s support of this critical program aimed to alleviate childhood hunger.”

The Food Bank for Central & Northeast Missouri provides approximately 7,500 Buddy Packs every week to children at 152 schools across central and northeast Missouri.

Danielle Carrillo and Kate Casey distribute samples of a healthy snack at Central Pantry.

Danielle Carrillo and Kate Casey distribute samples of a healthy snack at Central Pantry.

Students studying dietetics at the University of Missouri’s College of Human Environmental Sciences are getting real-world experience while also helping clients at The Food Bank’s Central Pantry in Columbia.

Teams of students set up demonstrations and distribute educational materials at the pantry every week during the school year. It is part of the curricula that requires students to apply their lessons outside of a classroom.

It is a long-term partnership that pantry Supervisor Sean Ross says is beneficial not only for students, but also for clients.

“The demonstrations show healthy ways to serve foods that we have on the shelves,” Ross said. “They also encourage people to try new foods or familiar foods in new ways.

For the MU students, the experience gives them a glimpse into a different sector of the food industry.

“It helps us figure out different job options and experience working with different types of clients,” said freshman Kate Casey.

She and senior Danielle Carrillo last week handed out samples of apples and dip. Apples were in abundance at the pantry, and families were allowed to take multiple bags, depending on the number of people in the household. The dip included honey and peanut butter, also available on pantry shelves.

The recipe, which they found online, was originally named “skinny peanut butter dip.” The two changed it to “tasty apples” instead, saying they learned early on in the project that names impact people’s willingness to try new foods.

“We have learned how to be a little more creative,” Carrillo said.

Supporting a proud population: Mobile helps Southern Cherokee Tribe

Members of Southern Cherokee Tribe in Phelps County are proud of their culture and history. They describe their ancestors as courageous, honorable and loyal—traits they aspire to, as well.

They are also hungry.

The population of about 500 Southern Cherokee living in and
around Phelps County is so impoverished that social service agencies in the area reached out
to The Food Bank seeking assistance. The problem? Many members were reluctant to
accept help from outsiders.

That is where tribal leaders have stepped in. Chief Steve Matthews and his wife, Darla, have worked closely with The Food Bank to get food to fellow Tribe members.

Many have warmed up to the idea of accepting food at a Mobile Pantry, where Matthews and other Southern Cherokee leaders volunteer.

“Tribe members wouldn’t go otherwise,” Matthews said. “When people
they know are running it, they are more comfortable.”

The pantry is now serving nearly 100 families, about a quarter of which are members of the Tribe.

“This really helps,” said Travis, a client and volunteer. “A million times, thank you to those who
donate and the generosity of those who help with this.”

Ancestors of the Southern Cherokee were among the first Federally Recognized Band of the
Cherokee Nation and the group that ultimately followed Major Ridge to
Oklahoma prior to the Trail of Tears.

The Tribe later sought refuge in Southern Missouri. The state was not welcoming, forcing many to live in isolation. The result has been limited access to education, nutrition-related health issues and generational poverty.

“We relied on hunting and fishing, and to a great extent, many of us still do,” Matthews said. “But the Mobile Pantry helps out a lot. Everybody loves it.”

The Food Bank celebrates 35 years

The Food Bank this month celebrated its 35th anniversary with an Open House event featuring a Columbia Chamber of Commerce Ribbon Cutting, tours, culinary demonstrations and volunteer opportunities.
The event also celebrated the donors, volunteers, partner agencies and other friends who make the work of The Food Bank possible.
The Food Bank began as a grassroots effort in September 1981 in Boone County. Today, the organization serves an average of 104,000 individuals every month across a 32-county service area.
Over its 35 years, The Food Bank has begun a number of programs targeted to get food into the hands of those who need it. Today, one of our most significant programs is the Buddy Pack Program, which provides bags of nutritious food to children who receive free or reduced-price lunch at school. These bags of kid-friendly food are taken home on Friday and for some children represents the only nutrition they have when they are not at school. 
Additionally, The Food Bank provide 1,800 senior boxes each month to help older adults supplement their diets.
This year, the organization has begun piloting a program to assist U.S. Veterans. The VIP Veteran Pack program began in Boone County in May and provides shelf-stable, easy-to-open meals for local veterans living at or below poverty.
“We could not do this work without your support,” Executive Director Lindsay Young Lopez said during brief remarks at the anniversary event. “You donations, your volunteer work, your friendship truly makes possible our mission of sharing food and bringing hope.”

 

Columbia Orthopaedic Group Becomes Presenting Sponsor of Score Against Hunger campaign

Columbia Orthopaedic Group has become the presenting sponsor of the 2016 Missouri Tigers Score Against Hunger campaign, which will be held throughout The Food Bank for Central & Northeast Missouri’s entire 32-county service area for the first time ever.

The campaign is The Food Bank’s largest fundraising effort. Each fall, it challenges University of Missouri football fans to get in on the action by pledging a dollar amount per point scored during the season or by directing an outright gift to the Tigers’ campaign.

Missouri Tigers Score Against Hunger began in 1995 under then MU Football Head Coach Larry Smith and continued under the helm of Coach Gary Pinkel. This year, Head Coach Barry Odom has agreed to carry on the tradition and participate.

“With excitement around a new season under a new coach, we decided it was a good year to expand the campaign to all of our counties,” said Lindsay Young Lopez, executive director. “We know there are Tigers fans throughout central and northeast Missouri, so we wanted to make sure they had an opportunity to participate, as well.”

Donations from Score go directly into the acquisition and distribution of food to those in need. As of June 30, the half-way point in the fiscal year, The Food Bank had distributed 15.7 million pounds to 132 partner agencies in the service area.

Missouri Tigers Score Against Hunger also encourages businesses and individuals to make leadership gifts, and those who do so are invited to a Victory Luncheon at the end of the season featuring Coach Odom. Columbia Orthopaedic Group has reached the Touchdown line, the highest sponsorship level possible.

 

“Columbia Orthopaedic Group has been a tremendous partner to us over the years,” Lopez said. “We hope the group’s example inspires others to join us in the ongoing fight against hunger in our communities.”

The Food Bank becomes Official Charitable Partner of Mizzou Athletics

COLUMBIA, Mo. – The Food Bank for Central & Northeast Missouri has become the Official Charitable Partner of University of Missouri Athletics.

The partnership expands Missouri Tigers Score Against Hunger, a 22-year old campaign under the helm of the MU Football Program.

"We are thrilled to build upon the longtime relationship we have enjoyed with Mizzou Athletics," said Lindsay Young Lopez, executive director of The Food Bank. "The university does so much for us throughout the year, this agreement really reflects on MU's commitment to giving back to those in need in our community."

Missouri Tigers Score Against Hunger began in 1995 under then Head Coach Larry Smith and continued under former Coach Gary Pinkel. New Head Coach Barry Odom has expressed his commitment to carrying on its success.

The campaign encourages sponsorships and outright gifts, but also challenges individuals to pledge a dollar amount to The Food Bank for every point the Tigers score during the season.

Since its inception, Score Against Hunger has brought in more than $9 million in outright gifts, in-kind donations and sponsorships, all of which has gone into the acquisition and distribution of food to those in need. The campaign has also become The Food Bank's largest annual fundraising effort.

This year, Score will also be held throughout The Food Bank's 32-county service area for the first time. For its designation as Mizzou Athletics' official charitable partner, The Food Bank teamed with Learfield's local Mizzou Sports Properties team to coordinate efforts on behalf of the athletic department. Learfield is University of Missouri's long-time athletics multimedia rights and sponsorship partner.

"It's a pleasure to work closely with The Food Bank and help support this outstanding effort all of us are capable of backing," said Mizzou Sports Properties General Manager Nick Garner. "It is affirming to see the growth and major strides this campaign has made in its 22 years with the Tigers, and we look forward to continued success."

"Becoming Mizzou Athletics' official charity signifies a new era for the Score campaign," Lopez said. "We certainly know there are Tigers fans throughout our 32 counties, and we wanted to give them an opportunity to be part of the team's fundraising efforts."

Florida woman volunteering at all 204 food banks makes stop in Columbia

A Florida resident traveling the country on a quest to volunteer at all 204 Feeding America food banks made a stop in Columbia today.

At The Food Bank for Central & Northeast Missouri, Jess Kurti joined regular volunteers to help repackage cereal before visiting a Summer Food 4 Kids site.

This was her 144th volunteer stop since beginning her journey in 2012 when she lost her job after her company downsized. While she was able to manage, Kurti saw that former colleagues were not.

“Many of my co-workers, who had done everything right, were now struggling,” she said. “They could not relocate because of mortgages or family obligations. Many were trying to find two or three jobs to replace the salary they’d lost … I was beginning to understand the ripple effect from a crashing economy and what the face of hunger in my community really looked like.”

Kurti took a road trip across the U.S. to regroup, then returned to Florida with a commitment to dedicating her life to service. She began by becoming a regular volunteer at Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida.

At the same time, Kurti was starting to participate in 50-state marathon challenge. That is when she got the idea to combine service with fitness, setting the goal of volunteering at all of the food banks in Feeding America’s network.

She has since seen first-hand the struggles Americans face and has a better understanding of the diverse populations impacted by food insecurity.

 “Hunger doesn’t know boundaries or politics,” she said.

Kurti has also become more vocal about what she is seeing in hopes of raising awareness and support.

Kurti plans to volunteer at America’s Second Harvest of Greater St. Joseph and Harvesters The Community Food Network in Kansas City later this week. 

Heat does not deter dedicated volunteers

Lyn Garven

Lyn Garven

By Grace Borhart
The Food Bank Staff


Fayette’s Mobile Pantry Thursday held a heat index of 106 without a cloud in the sky. The National Weather Service warned of excessive heat and suggested everyone stay inside, but volunteers Ralph Evans, 59, and Lyn Garven, 70, reported for duty just like they do every month.

“They’ve gone above and beyond to show up in this heat,” Melissa Schulte, agency relations coordinator for The Food Bank, said..

The day was so hot that the Mobile Pantry had to be moved forward an hour so clients and volunteers would not be outside at noon. Regardless, Evans and Garven worked through the morning, taking breaks only at the urging of Schulte when no clients were in line.

Both Garven and Evans have come to volunteer almost every month since the mobile began in October. Some months volunteers from Central Methodist University join them, but other months it is just the two of them working with The Food Bank staff to sort food and hand out boxes.

“The number of volunteers varies, but we can always depend on Ralph and Lyn to be there,” Schulte says.

Both men have volunteered for Fayette’s food pantry for years, as well.

Evans, who receives dialysis three days a week, even schedules his medical appointments so that he can be free on days the pantry is open. He said he makes an effort to volunteer at the pantry any time he can because, “it’s mostly older people. I’m not as old as they are, so I can still get around and bend over and all that.”

Dedicated volunteers are an invaluable part of The Food Bank operations. Fayette’s Mobile Pantry distributed food to 67 households in two and a half hours this month.

“You meet a lot of people, and it just helps,” Garven said. “It’s good to help when you can.”

 

Exchange student impressed with Central Pantry

Uenny Kim has been surprised by many things since arriving in the U.S. for the first time ever last month, not the least of which has been the generosity of those around her at Central Pantry.

“This is a meaningful place with kind people,” she said. “Very respectful.”

Kim, who is from South Korea, is working at Central Pantry as part of an exchange program through the University of Missouri’s Asian Affairs Center. The idea is to provide participants the opportunity to test their English language skills in an immersive environment.

Kim is not the only one to benefit from the experience. Central Pantry clients have also enjoyed meeting someone from another country, said Sean Ross, pantry manager.

“It’s cool for clients to meet and have conversations with her,” he said. “The whole point is communication, so I’ve been encouraging her to interact with clients. She has only heard English spoken by other Asians, so it’s good for her to hear different dialects.”

Kim says she understands about 60% of what is being said around her, but added that her English has improved in the past few weeks.

This is the second year Central Pantry has participated in the exchange program.

Farm to Table Fun station introduces children to new produce

Children make fruit pizzas at the Farm to Table Fun station at Central Pantry.

Children make fruit pizzas at the Farm to Table Fun station at Central Pantry.

Summer Food 4 Kids is now underway in Columbia, and children at the Central Pantry site are getting more than a free lunch.

On Tuesday, children had the opportunity to try new fruits and vegetables at the Farm to Table Fun station, an activity booth designed to teach participants how food is grown.

“I’ve never had one this way before,” said one boy who had never eaten a raw carrot before.

One set of 5-year-old twins tried kiwi for the first time, as well.

Tomatoes, honeydew, grapes, strawberries and blueberries were also on the table for sampling.

The Farm to Table Fun station will be open every weekday during Summer Food 4 Kids, which runs through Aug. 12. 

Activities will include making produce-themed recipes, reading books about agriculture and planting seeds. On Wednesday, rain moved the activities inside Central Pantry, where children made fruit-topping pizza. Other Farm to Table Fun activities will include coloring, reading and planting seeds.