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. 


Veterans United Foundation donates $19,440 to support VIP Pack Program

Anthony Gray, a U.S. Air Force Veteran, picks up a VIP Pack at Central Pantry.

Anthony Gray, a U.S. Air Force Veteran, picks up a VIP Pack at Central Pantry.

The Veterans United Foundation, the charitable arm of Veterans United Home Loans, announced it is donating $19,440 in support of The Food Bank for Central & Northeast Missouri’s new VIP Veteran Pack pilot program. The donation ensures the local food bank will be able to extend the program several additional months.

VIP Veteran Packs are boxes of nutritional food that are selected with the needs of Veterans in mind. Boxes include ready-to-eat entrees and fruits, vegetables and soup in easy-to-open cans. Peanut butter, beef sticks and soft nutritional bars are also included, with personal care items rounding out the kit.

“Ensuring our local Veterans have access to proper nutrition is paramount,” said Miranda Giger, Veterans United Foundation outreach coordinator. “Our foundation is proud to support this new program that addresses the needs of our low-income Veteran population.”

Lindsay Young Lopez, executive director of The Food Bank, said she is thrilled to have Veterans United Foundation on board with the pilot project.

“This is new territory for us, so the support of this foundation affirms that we are correct when thinking that this very important population is deserving of extra nutrition,” she said. “While we are still looking for creative ways to make this a permanent program, the Veterans United Foundation’s support will allow us to have more time to operate and evaluate the VIP Veteran Pack pilot program.”

VIP Veteran Packs are now being distributed at the Central Pantry, which serves about 300 Veterans a month, as well as to Veterans living or seeking help at Welcome Home and Patriot Place. There are about 650 Veterans in Boone County living at or below the poverty line. In The Food Bank’s service area, there are more than 5,000 Veterans living in poverty.

“Ideally, if the Boone County program becomes permanent, we would like to be able to replicate the VIP Veteran Pack program in each of the 32 counties we serve,” Lopez said. “But we will be strategic about implementation and ensure that we have the necessary resources to make this a reality. We certainly think it is an effort worth pursuing.” 


Cage-free egg donation will bring hope, smiles to hungry

Larry Higgins and his nephew, Cody Kuttenkuler, wrap a pallet of eggs to be transported to The Food Bank.

Larry Higgins and his nephew, Cody Kuttenkuler, wrap a pallet of eggs to be transported to The Food Bank.

LH Poultry LLC in Moniteau County this week donated more than 66,000 cage-free eggs to The Food Bank for Central & Northeast Missouri—a gift that will not only bring hope but also smiles to thousands across central and northeast Missouri. 

“While we get some eggs from a retail distributor in our service area, we do not always have them to give to our clients,” said Don Moore, food solicitor. “But we know eggs are an excellent source of protein and Vitamin D—and they are versatile and tasty. We are thrilled to be able to get them into the hands of people who cannot afford to buy them at the store.”
The average price nationally for a dozen eggs last month was $2.97, a 50% increase from just two years ago, according to the Labor Department.

For Larry Higgins, the donation allowed him to move some of his product without having to waste anything. 

“I had a lot of extra eggs and didn’t want to pitch them,” he said at his home on Chicken House Road near Tipton. 

When an acquaintance suggested donating them to The Food Bank, Higgins did not hesitate. 

“It’s for a good cause, and it helps people,” he said.

Transporting thousands of raw eggs in the back of a refrigerated box truck is not an easy feat. 
The eggs are put in flats, which hold 30 eggs and do not have lids. After stacking pallets with 72 flats, egg pallets wrapped with stretch wrap and wheeled to the truck.

Despite having to drive on a gravel road and over a few bumps on I-70, driver Albert Gainwell successfully delivered the eggs to The Food Bank warehouse without cracking a single one.

The eggs will now be distributed at Central Pantry and through the Mobile Pantry program, which sends refrigerated box trucks to low-income communities where brick-and-mortar pantries are not available. 

“This operation depends on the generosity of donors like Higgins, as well as the commitment of dedicated staff like Albert,” said Bobbie Kincade, associate director. “We appreciate both of them for making it possible for our clients to have healthy, delicious eggs.”


Central Pantry feeding site to include produce-themed activities

Children participating in Summer Food 4 Kids at Central Pantry in Columbia will have an extra treat.

A mini classroom will be set up outside of the feeding area where The Food Bank staff will promote farm-to-table fun using a variety of activities. Days will include "cooking" demonstrations, allowing children to make their own fruit salads, banana deserts, carrot pops using 100% carrot juice and other produce-related activities. Story and coloring days will also teach children about fresh fruits and vegetables. And "plant a seed" days will demonstrate how to plant a variety of fruits and vegetables. Supplies are coming from a No Kid Hungry grant from Share Our Strength, with seeds and planting supplies donated by the University of Missouri's Interdisciplinary Center for Food Security.

"We're really excited about this new program," said Stacey Brown, children's program coordinator at The Food Bank. "We know healthy habits start early. This will allow us to introduce or reinforce to children the importance of fresh fruits and vegetables."

Summer Food 4 Kids begins July 5 in Columbia. The program runs from noon to 1 p.m. Monday through Friday through Aug. 12. Total Care Health and Mike Kelly/HM Risk are helping to sponsor the Columbia feeding locations this year.

Summer Food 4 Kids provides lunches at no charge to children 18 and under during the summer months when school is not in session. Lunches include sandwiches, milk and at least one fruit or vegetable.

In Kirksville, the program, including lunches, games and activities, began earlier this month at four sites.

In Jefferson City, children are allowed to pick up pre-bagged lunches at any of four sites starting June 27.

Ballard 'retires' after decade of volunteer service

Marion and Shirley Ballard with Volunteer Room staff, from left, Teresa Coleman, Emily Herrell, John Itschner and Taylor Perry.

Marion and Shirley Ballard with Volunteer Room staff, from left, Teresa Coleman, Emily Herrell, John Itschner and Taylor Perry.

It is the end of an era at The Food Bank.

Marion Ballard, who has volunteered five days a week since 2006, has retired.

Employees, fellow volunteers, family and friends gathered to celebrate his contributions to The Food Bank on May 19, giving him and his wife, Shirley, a standing ovation for their volunteer efforts.

"The Food Bank family loves you and will miss you terribly," Executive Director Lindsay Young Lopez said during her remarks.

Ballard was born in Bagnell, Mo., in 1924. He was drafted into the Army in 1943 and served until 1946. The following year, he earned a degree in agriculture from the University of Missouri and began teaching in Osceola, where he met Shirley.

The couple moved to Columbia in 1954, where they raised three daughters and a son, all of whom graduated from Hickman High School.

Ballard retired from a position at MU in 1987.

In the volunteer room, Ballard has logged more than 10,000 hours and has helped assemble 128,000 senior boxes--an investment of time and labor that surpasses any other individual or group.

In addition to repacking food, Ballard also helped the volunteer staff fix equipment when needed, and he loaned The Food Bank his truck to pick up pears and apples from area orchards.

Ballard has also made an impact on fellow volunteers. 
During his retirement reception, several praised him for showing them the ropes and for making volunteering a positive experience.

Last year, an anonymous donor made a $10,000 contribution in the Ballards' honor, creating the Marion and Shirley Ballard Buddy Pack Fund.

"Marion has made a lasting impact," Lopez said. "The Food Bank is a better operation because of his contributions."

Stamp Out Hunger raises food, funds, family tradition

Lindell Lee, right, with daughter, Amanda Quick and granddaughter, Ellie, son-in-law, Sean, and sister Debbie Lee at Stamp Out Hunger in Columbia.

Lindell Lee, right, with daughter, Amanda Quick and granddaughter, Ellie, son-in-law, Sean, and sister Debbie Lee at Stamp Out Hunger in Columbia.

For Lindell Lee, Stamp Out Hunger is a family affair.

The longtime postal worker has been involved in the one-day food drive since it began in 1992. His daughter, Amanda, has been there, too, first as a young volunteer and last month with her own family.

“Helping out means a lot to him,” Amanda Quick said during the drive on May 14, where her husband, Sean, and daughter Ellie, joined her. “”I wanted to keep the tradition going.”

Stamp Out Hunger has become the nation’s largest one-day food drive and, locally, benefits The Food Bank and its partner agencies.

As of May 31, central and northeast Missouri residents collectively donated 171,975 pounds of food and $53,839 through the campaign. Financial donations continue to come in.

Food stays within the community in which it is collected, while funds go to The Food Bank, which provides food at no charge to 130 partner agencies in a 32-county service area. For every $1 The Food Bank receives, it is able to acquire 15 pounds of food.

That means with food and fund donations combined, this year’s Stamp Out Hunger brought in the equivalent of more than 964,000 meals.

The event also relies heavily on volunteers such as the Lee and Quick families. Volunteers assist postal workers by driving to collect food and help The Food Bank staff sort donations at various stations through the 32-county area.

In Columbia, volunteers from Tolton High School came as part of a project for service hours. Drew Fischer, a University of Missouri sophomore, used the volunteer work to start preparing for his dental school application. Others were there representing various clubs and community organizations.

“We are so appreciative of the support we received from our communities again this year,” said Lindsay Young Lopez, executive director of The Food Bank. “Whether you left canned goods in a bag outside of your home or stopped by a post office to assist, we are able to share food and bring hope to so many because of your efforts.”

Demonstrations at Central Pantry help students, clients

Visitors at Central Pantry in Columbia this spring are getting an unexpected treat: freshly prepared culinary creations from the Columbia Area Career Center.

Culinary arts instructor Katie Frink and a student are coming to the pantry a total of six times to prepare dishes using fresh produce from the Columbia Urban Garden alongside pantry products.

It is a triple win. Career center students are getting exposure to a different side of the food industry; the Columbia Center for Urban Agriculture is getting an opportunity to show off its fresh fruits and vegetables and pantry clients are getting to try new foods.

On April 19, boxes of Indian crackers were flying off the shelf after Frink and student Giovanni Bartolacci paired them with a custom spinach dip. Before that, people seemed reluctant to take the unfamiliar brand of crackers, said Sean Ross, pantry supervisor.

"The main benefit is showing clients something they've never seen before and how to use it," he said. "But there's also the wonderful smell. You think you're in a restaurant."

Float Your Boat surpasses fundraising goal

Environmental Dynamics International won the coveted People's Choice Award for raising the most money with its very popular "Ship of Fools" political themed boat.

Environmental Dynamics International won the coveted People's Choice Award for raising the most money with its very popular "Ship of Fools" political themed boat.

Float Your Boat for The Food Bank surpassed its fundraising goal and brought in $62,618 in outright gifts, sponsorships and in-kind donations for The Food Bank for Central & Northeast Missouri.

“We are thrilled with the results of this year’s event,” said Lindsay Young Lopez, executive director of The Food Bank. “Our community stepped up for the fifth anniversary and helped us raise awareness and funds to feed people in need.”

Mid-Missouri’s only cardboard regatta, Float Your Boat challenges teams to build cardboard boats and race them across Bass Pro Shops Lake without sinking. Teams also participate in a fundraising challenge, which brought in more than $6,000. This year, Environmental Dynamics International raised the most, $2,024, and earned the coveted “People’s Choice” award. 

Other winners included Mill Creek Elementary, which had two fourth grade classes competing in the race. Both shared the Bass Pro Award. 

Float Your Boat is a partnership between The Food Bank and the University of Missouri’s College of Agriculture, Food & Natural Resources.

“Thank you, Columbia community, for supporting Float Your Boat for The Food Bank in such a big way,” said Tom Payne, dean of the college. “You are helping change lives.”


Float Your Boat provides excitement, raises money for The Food Bank

CAFNR's Core of Discovery canoe catches up to competitor Socket at Saturday's Float Your Boat for The Food Bank.

CAFNR's Core of Discovery canoe catches up to competitor Socket at Saturday's Float Your Boat for The Food Bank.

The Corps of Discovery was built for speed, said team member Donna Thomas.

But the thing tipped over the minute it hit the lake at Bass Pro Shops.

Sure enough, though, MU’s College of Food, Agriculture & Natural Resources’ 2016 Float Your Boat entry was, indeed, a speedy vessel. The team got the canoe back in the water, managed to catch up to its competitor and reached the shore just two seconds behind Socket’s “Gravy Boat.”

This year’s Float Your Boat for The Food Bank was full of exciting and surprising races as teams set sail to raise money for The Food Bank for Central & Northeast Missouri.
Unilever debuted a Scooby Doo-themed boat, and Mystery Inc. carried all of its favorite characters. 

“This is our third year,” said Janet Farris, who was dressed as Daphne. “It’s so much fun. And it’s for a good cause.”

Mill Creek Elementary teachers John Gerhart and Megan Kinkade made the event part of a class assignment. Gerhart’s students were tasked with coming up with and voting on the boat’s theme, a sports car, then spent about 15 to 20 minutes a day designing and building it in class.

Boat building involved engineering, measuring and mathematics,  Gerhart said. “They’re also learning to make tough decisions.”

Kinkade’s class’s covered wagon-themed boat ended up winning the heat against Gerhart’s class, however both teams were winners. They won this year’s Bass Pro Shops Award, as well as second and third in overall time for the short course.

The Pond Queen—a prom-themed boat—was also part of a class project. The boat was a partnership between MU Operations and a construction class at the Columbia Area Career Center. As a fundraiser, the group held a contest asking others whether the boat would swim or sink—most expected it to sink. Indeed, the Pond Queen tipped over at the starting line but Heiddi Davis and her teammate got back in the cardboard boat and managed to paddle to the shore. 

But it was the Mizzou Asian Affairs Center that managed to have the most epic sinking of the day. With one boat themed after the Titanic—complete with Rose and Jack, arm in arm—the boat “hit” its competing iceberg-themed boat and sunk. Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On” played in the background as Jack and Rose were once again separated by sea. 

EDI, this year’s clean water sponsor, had one of the most popular boats of the day. Its “Ship of Fools” included presidential candidates Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, as well as a couple of former politicians, including Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Sarah Palin. Team members spent much of their time prior to the races taking photos with spectators. The boat also earned the coveted People’s Choice Award, raising more than $2,000 for The Food Bank. The final amount the event raised will be available later this week.

“This year’s Float Your Boat was so much fun,” said Lindsay Young Lopez, executive director of The Food Bank. “The boats were so creative, and the teams so excited. What a great way to help share food and bring hope to those in need.”

The Food Bank Board Member Michael Kateman poses with EDI's "Ship of Fools" team members dressed as candidates and politicians. 

The Food Bank Board Member Michael Kateman poses with EDI's "Ship of Fools" team members dressed as candidates and politicians. 

2016 Float Your Boat Winners

Pirate Award – Crockett & Chubbs sponsored by Paragon
Best Spirit Award – Mystery Inc. by Unilever
Bass Pro Shops Award – Crazy Cougars and S.S. Manifest Destiny
Titanic Award – Titanic & Iceberg by Mizzou Asian Affairs Center
Ugliest Boat Award – Ugly Duct
Best Use of a Theme – APB Abominable pumpernickel bandits
Can’t Believe It’s Cardboard – SS DogMistress by DogMaster Distillery
Best in Show – Blew-by-You
People’s Choice Award – Ship of Fools by EDI

Short Course
    1 S.S. Oatmeal
    2. S.S. Manifest Destiny by Mill Creek Elementary
    3. Crazy Cougars by Mill Creek Elementary
Long Course
    1. Nuclear Guacamole
    2. The Corrugated Corsair by Professional Contractors & Engineers/Roteract of Columbia
    3. Bunker Hill by Missouri State Teachers Association



Mid-Missouri team among international Canstruction winners

Caroline Leemis Design of Columbia and O’Loughlin Architecture and Construction of Moberly were recognized this week by Canstruction®, Inc., as being among winners of the 23rd Annual Canstruction International Design Competition. 

“Fight Hunger with Sword in Hand” was awarded the Best Use of Labels prize in the 17th professional design/build competition held in Mid-Missouri last April. Winners from sanctioned events worldwide forward digital images of their structures to compete in the international competition. From among hundreds of entries, the structure is the 2nd Runner Up in the International Best Use of Labels category.

The fish-like structure was made with nearly 2,000 contrasting cans of Schnucks brand and Starkist tuna and was on display at the Boone County Government Center before the food was donated to The Food Bank for Central & Northeast Missouri. 

The Mid-Missouri event, which rotates the competitions between Columbia and Jefferson City, is organized by the Missouri Chapter of Construction Specifications Institute. The competition requires that all teams have at least one design professional and use only canned food, which is to be donated to The Food Bank.

“Each year, the teams go above and beyond in terms of design and commitment to the cause,” said Lindsay Young Lopez, executive director of The Food Bank. "We so appreciate the talent, dedication and donations of food for those in need in our community."

Since 1998, more than 100 sculptures in Mid-Missouri have raised roughly 250,000 pounds of food for central and northeast Missouri.