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.


Nutmobile driver volunteers at The Food Bank

Employees at The Food Bank were doing a double take April 20 as they spotted a giant peanut parked next to their vehicles in the east parking lot.

The Planters Nutmobile stopped by during its week-long visit through Columbia to let driver Gabi Solis of Miami volunteer for the afternoon. 

“We are so appreciative that Gabi opted to spend her afternoon with us in the Volunteer Room—where things can get a little nutty anyway,” Teresa Coleman, volunteer room supervisor, quipped. “She had such a positive energy. And we had a blast taking photos with the Nutmobile.”

The Weinermobile’s lesser-known sibling (they are sister programs under Kraft/Heinz) has been traveling the country since 2013. Drivers spend a year in one of three peanut-shaped vehicles promoting the product and volunteering.

“It’s awesome,” Solis said. “It’s really fun to get to meet so many people and help out communities.”

Her co-worker is a University of Missouri graduate who suggested that she volunteer at The Food Bank. During her afternoon shift, Solis helped package senior boxes and label soup cans. 
“Everyone I’ve met here is so nice,” she said.
So what is it like driving a massive peanut? Not unlike handling a large vehicle, Solis said, other than getting a lot of attention. 
“Lots of honking and slowing down to take photos,” she said.
Sometimes, people will hold bags or cans of Planters out the window to show her. The product seems to be especially popular among truck drivers.
“Truck drivers will wave cans of peanuts at me,” she said. “That’s my favorite.”


New Columbia Resident Thankful for Pantry as She Transitions to New Job

Leah Smith, 36, moved to Columbia last month from a small town in southeast Missouri hoping to find new opportunities in a larger city.

While looking for work in the restaurant industry, she came across Central Pantry. Between jobs and staying with relatives, Smith said the pantry allowed her to bridge the gap between the move and her next job.

"I'm not always going to need help, but I am so thankful for the help," she said.

Asked what types of items she picked up in the pantry, which allows clients to select what they want, Smith did not hesitate.

"Produce," she said. "I've seen other pantries give dry products, so it was so nice to go in and get fresh fruits and vegetables. The meat and bread were nice, too."

Smith admitted she has been a little overwhelmed in Columbia, a community much larger than her hometown, but said she has been greeted with nothing but kindness.

"I've even called the Chamber of Commerce with questions. Everybody has been great as far as helping me," she said. "This is a whole new world."

Smith hopes she does not have to use the pantry again, but she is relieved to know it is open if she needs to.

"I'm just very impressed with what The Food Bank gives this community," she said.

The Food Bank Responds to Need at Ronald McDonald House

Around noon yesterday, Ronald McDonald House Charities sent out a call for help on social media, saying the organization was in desperate need of breakfast items.

By 4 p.m., the organization had more than 100 pounds worth of boxes full of Corn Flakes, Raisin Bran, Fruit Loops and cereal bars thanks to The Food Bank for Central & Northeast Missouri.

“We saw the post and immediately knew we could help,” said Lindsay Young Lopez, executive director. “Our Warehouse is stocked with cereal, so we immediately took inventory and put together what we could donate.”

Ronald McDonald House provides a home for families with children who are being treated at nearby hospitals. Typically, volunteer groups come in to prepare breakfast, lunch and dinners for families, however a recent spring break at the University of Missouri caused a shortfall of volunteers, said Heather McDaniel, community relations assistant there.

Adding to the crisis is the fact 18 families are currently staying at the Ronald McDonald House—more than 40 people.

“We were totally out of breakfast items,” she said yesterday as she watched Daryle Bascom, director of operations at The Food Bank, unload the boxes. “I think we were down to three boxes of cereal, so this is a huge help.”

Lopez said she is thrilled The Food Bank was able to step in and help. “We are happy to have been able to share food and bring hope to families staying at The Ronald McDonald House.”

Lopez Touts Importance of Volunteering at TEDx Talk

Lindsay Young Lopez, executive director of The Food Bank, touted the benefits of volunteering during a TEDx talk at Columbia City Hall Thursday morning.

“What would you say if I told you can build your resume, improve communication skills, develop a team, experience satisfaction and find joy? How much would that be worth to you?” she asked attendees. “Some programs charge money to provide you with classes or books or online tutorials to gain those benefits. But you don’t have to pay a dime.”

Volunteering, she said, provides all of those benefits while also making a significant difference in the lives of others.

Each month, The Food Bank feeds roughly 104,000 people in a 32-county area and last year distributed more than 31 million pounds of food. 

“Our 57 employees work tirelessly and passionately on behalf of our mission,” she said. “But our fantastic team cannot do this work alone. Fifty-seven people literally cannot run an operation that feeds 104,000 people a month.”

That is where volunteers come in. Last year, The Food Bank welcomed nearly 43,000 volunteers who helped repackage food, label cans, assemble senior boxes and pack Buddy Packs, she said.

During her talk at TEDx Cosmo Park, Lopez also outlined the need for The Food Bank services in the area. In central and northeast Missouri, one is six adults and one in five children face hunger. The Food Bank distributes 7,500 Buddy Packs—bags of kid-friendly nutritious food—to low-income children every week but the need is much greater, she said.

Lopez invited those who felt compelled to do so to join the fight against hunger by volunteering at The Food Bank but encouraged everyone to get involved in something.

“Maybe instead you are passionate about the arts, or animals, or victims of abuse,” she said. “Find what speaks to you and inspires you. Then figure out how you can help. Because every single pair of hands can have an impact.”


Lopez Receives Citizen of the Year Honor

Lindsay Young Lopez, executive director of The Food Bank for Central & Northeast Missouri received the Citizen of the Year award from Columbia Elks Lodge 594 on Sunday.

Terry Durnil, Exalted Ruler of Lodge 594, selected Lopez in recognition of her work at The Food Bank, a position she has held since November 2014.

A native of Fayette, Lopez leads all operational functions of The Food Bank, which employees 57 staff members. Most recently, she led her team through an audit process that resulted in The Food Bank becoming an AIB certified Food Safety Inspection Client for the first time.

Lopez has more than 18 years of experience in higher education fundraising and advancement. Prior to joining The Food Bank, she was senior director of development at Columbia College for seven years. In that role, Lopez served as campaign planning manager, spokesperson and as a member of the executive committee for the successful Tradition Meets Tomorrow Campaign, which raised a record-setting $11.1 million and constructed a state-of-the-art science building. She also served on the presidential inauguration core and steering committees, staffed the Philanthropy Committee of the Board of Trustees, served as the main contributor for the award-winning Columbia College annual report and led a team of six staff members. Lopez previously spent 11 years in Development and Alumni Relations at the University of Missouri.

The Elks Lodge honor is the latest in a string of community awards. In 2013, Lopez received the Athena Young Professional Award from the Women’s Network Division of the Columbia Chamber of Commerce. In 2012, she was selected to the Greater Missouri Leadership Challenge.  Lopez is active in the Columbia Chamber of Commerce, currently serving as a member of the Board of Directors.  In addition, she was selected to the 2010 Leadership Columbia class, named as co-chair of the 2011 Leadership Columbia program and named a Chamber Ambassador in 2011 She was named to the 2009 Columbia Business Times’ 20 Under 40

Lopez is a member of the Feeding Missouri Board of Directors, is past president of the King’s Daughters Donna Crockett Circle, is a former member of the Board of Directors of TRYPS Institute at Stephens College, a theatre program for children and schools, and is involved in numerous other volunteer activities in the community.

The Food Bank serves a 32-county area in central and northeast Missouri and works with 130 pantries, shelters and other partner agencies to feed, on average, 104,000 people a month. Every week during the school year, The Food Bank also provides 7,500 Buddy Packs of weekend food to children who receive free or reduced-price lunch at school.

Kirksville Motor Co., Toyota Donate $5,000

Kirksville Motor Company and Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., each donated $2,500 to The Food Bank for Central & Northeast Missouri this month.

The $5,000 check presentation was held at Kirksville Motor Company March 2.

The Food Bank provides more than 1,200 Buddy Packs to children at eight schools in the Kirksville area, provides lunches during the summer through Food 4 Kids and provides local pantries and senior centers with nutritious food year round.

Across its 32-county service area, The Food Bank serves around 104,000 people every month and distributes 7,500 Buddy Packs to children every week during the school year.

“We are grateful for donations from partners like Kirksville Motor Company and Toyota,” said Bobbie Kincade, associate director. “We would not be able to distribute food without the support of our generous donors.”

CSFP boxes help seniors stay healthy

Pat Cassaday raves about the cheese she receives each month through her Commodity Supplemental Food Program box.

“I could not afford the cheese. It’s such a good product, there’s no way I would be able to have it if I did not get it through this program,” she said. “The canned beef stew is also a very good meal. We get cereal, milk, vegetables. One box a month lasts me quite a while.”

CSFP is a U.S. Department of Agriculture program that works to improve the health of low-income senior citizens by supplementing their diets with nutritious food. The Food Bank helps distribute nearly 2,000 of those boxes each month to agencies in 22 counties.

Pat receives her CSFP box through Douglass Community Support Services in Marion County. The agency, which also provides emergency food and other social services, distributes 215 so-called senior boxes each month, said Stacey Nicholas, the RSVP coordinator at the center.

“It provides good quality nutrition,” she said. “For some low-income seniors, it’s a gateway to get them interested in more nutritious food from the food pantry.”

And for many, she said, the boxes allow older adults to remain on their own.

“Many are fighting illnesses, and good health is key to keeping immune systems strong,” Stacey said.

For Pat, who also works at Douglass Community Support Services, the additional benefit helps her remain financially independent.

“I try to make it all work,” she said. “I do pretty well, but if I didn’t have this job to help me and the food given out, it would be different.”

Fayette Mobile Draws a Crowd

Emily Rademacher declined the bag of yellow onions, but the rest was an unexpected surprise for the college student struggling to support herself.

The potatoes, package of ribs, vegetables, boxes of cereal and crackers would be enough to last her a couple of weeks, she said.

Emily was not planning to go to The Food Bank for Central & Northeast Missouri’s Mobile Food Pantry in Fayette during its monthly visit in January. From her apartment window, she happened to notice the truck and Food Bank staff distributing food in the parking lot across the street. When she asked around and found out she would qualify for free food, she was thrilled and made two trips to transport her allotment back to her apartment in a red laundry basket.

Emily is studying nursing with the help of scholarships and financial aid. Her parents, who recently relocated from Missouri to Florida, provide an allowance but it goes toward rent and other bills. Emily does not have a job in order to focus on studies.

“This will really help me out,” she said. “It will last a while. I was surprised by how much they gave me.”

The Food Bank’s Mobile Pantry visits Fayette on the third Thursday of each month. On a particularly cold January morning, families and individuals lined up an hour before the pantry was slated to open. The Food Bank team quickly set up to serve people immediately. In all, more than 125 individuals—roughly 55 families—were able to access food that day.

For Betty Leonard, the mobile pantry supplements her fixed income.

“After bills, there’s not much left,” she said. “So this helps a lot.”

Betty, a widow, raised four children, all of whom are now working adults with their own families.

“I sacrificed a lot to get them an education so that they’d be better off than I am,” she said.

Although she struggles with diabetes and high blood pressure, Betty said she makes an effort to eat well, and The Food Bank helps her make healthy choices.

Tim Marino and his wife, Michelle, rely on The Food Bank to help them support themselves. They met in a homeless shelter a year ago and married a month later. They’ve since been able to move out of the shelter and recently took in a 12-year-old boy whose mother is incarcerated.

Standing in line waiting for the pantry to open, Tim, a Gulf War veteran, and Herb Burr, a Vietnam veteran swapped combat stories.

“I remember the other guys grumbling, but I told them it’s what you make it,” Herb said. “The whole world is what you make it. Enjoy it.”

The people of Fayette are able to enjoy it a little more thanks to those who make The Food Bank’s Mobile Pantry possible, Betty noted.

“They are making a great gift,” she said, “by helping out the ones who aren’t fortunate enough to be able to purchase healthy food.”