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, 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. 

Bumby brothers donate Christmas money to help others

 Spencer and Carter Bumby

Spencer and Carter Bumby

When Spencer and Carter Bumby—Rock Bridge High School graduates who now attend South Dakota State University—were given money for Christmas this year, they did not hesitate to donate it to The Food Bank.

“We were each given money to help people in need, and hunger is the most important thing to help fight,” Carter said. “Everyone has to eat, but not everyone can afford to eat.”

The twins each gave $500. Because of The Food Bank’s affiliation with Feeding America and the ability to purchase bulk foods at significantly reduced costs, the combined donation will provide $21,000 worth of groceries to those in need.

The Bumby brothers said the family decided prior to Christmas that they would forgo gifts for charity. Each of the four siblings had the opportunity to choose where to donate the dollars.

“My first thought was The Food Bank,” Spencer said. “The biggest problem is people going hungry.”

Carter and Spencer are no strangers to helping fight hunger. They both belong to Lambda Chi Alpha, and the fraternity’s philanthropic partner is Feeding America. Through events and challenges with rival universities, they donate food and funds year round.

While Carter admitted it might have been tempting to use some of his Christmas money on video games or other items for himself, “now it will actually do some good and go to people who need it.”

Carter, who is majoring in computer science, and Spencer, who is pursuing a degree in architecture, say they hope charitable giving remains part of their lives as they start their respective careers.

“We’ve been building on philanthropy through our fraternity and we hope that grows through college and as we head out and begin making money through our real jobs,” Spencer said. “Giving your own money to help others is more satisfying.”

'Hard to ask for help,' but Samaritan Center fills the gap


Trinette never had to utilize a food pantry until earlier this year when her food stamp benefits were cut.

The mom of two, who works as a cook for a correctional facility, now relies on the Samaritan Center in Jefferson City for groceries to help her feed her family.

"I don't like asking people for help, but you've got to have food," she said. "You have to have something to eat. I have to rely on the food; it helps."

Angela, another client, agreed.

"It's hard to ask for help," the mom of four said. "But it fills the gap whenever we need food. It's hard when your family only has one income."

Last month, the two were among a crowd gathered at the Samaritan Center to pick up boxes of groceries, including many holiday staples such as turkey and potatoes.

The Food Bank is one of few in the country that provides food at no charge to agencies, in turn allowing those agencies to direct resources elsewhere. That is possible because of the support of generous donors.

"Thank you," Trinette said. "It definitely helps the people who need it most."

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 them, 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.