Blazing a trail of hope


Mariel Liggett is a trailblazer. 

Over the course of her life and career, Mariel has made a difference in the lives of others, many of whom she will never meet. In the early 1970s, she carved a path for women when she became a certified public accountant, a predominately male occupation at the time. She forged a road at the firm of Williams-Keepers, where she was the first female hired on its professional staff and went on to be its first female partner. 

Now, she is the first living person to become a member of the Heirloom Society, a pacesetter society for those who intend to make a planned gift to The Food Bank. 

Mariel is both a Past Treasurer and Past President of the Board of Directors at The Food Bank, having served on that Board for more than a decade. She credits her mentor, George Keepers, for getting her involved in a cause she is passionate about. She remembers him telling her to “give back to the community that has given so much to you.”

“The Food Bank’s mission tore up my heart, and so I wanted to be a part of it,” Mariel says. “After joining the Board of Directors, I visited the food pantry and couldn’t believe what people were going through. My heart ached and yet was happy at how caring and considerate The Food Bank made it for people to access the food they needed so desperately. And knowing those school kids get their Buddy Packs brings a smile to my face as they are so happy to have something to eat over the weekend.” 

Recently, she made another investment in The Food Bank by expressing her intention to make a planned gift. She joins other inaugural members of the Heirloom Society, which includes individuals who left bequests to The Food Bank. Like Mariel, they wanted their legacies to make a transformational difference in the lives of others for generations to come.  

Mariel is also practical. Leaving planned gifts ensures that individuals are able to allocate their assets the way they want and not leave those difficult decisions to family members. As a CPA, she is well-versed in the tax benefits of doing so. Using such options as charitable gift annuities, charitable remainder trusts and charitable lead trusts makes leaving either a lifetime or post-lifetime donation more powerful. 

Mariel, now retired, remembers asking her clients what they wanted to accomplish and then worked with them to achieve it in the most tax-efficient way. 

“Depending on your particular situation and objectives, there are usually several ways for you to accomplish your goals,” Mariel says. “And we all have goals.” 

Mariel’s goal is to share food and bring hope to future generations. That’s just how she is. 

Mariel Liggett is a trailblazer for sure. 

Bayer, The Food Bank for Central & Northeast Missouri partner to fight hunger at Luke Bryan Farm Tour

Photo Credit Tom Craig

Photo Credit Tom Craig

When the Bayer Presents Luke Bryan Farm Tour arrives in Centralia on Saturday, fans will not only get to hear their favorite Luke Bryan tunes, they will also have a chance to help local families in need.  

Presenting sponsor Bayer and The Food Bank for Central & Northeast Missouri will be joining forces to tackle hunger, while also raising awareness for America’s farming communities.  Before the concert, Bayer will present a $2,000 grant to The Food Bank for Central & Northeast Missouri which will help support one in six adults and one in five children facing food insecurity in The Food Bank’s 32-county service area.

“We’re really thankful for the support we’re receiving from Bayer and the Luke Bryan Farm Tour,” said Lindsay Young Lopez, Executive Director of The Food Bank.  “This gift will go a long way in helping us share food with the more than 100,000 Missourians we serve every month, many of whom live in rural communities.”

This donation is a part of Bayer’s Here’s To The Farmer campaign which aims to celebrate and recognize America’s hard-working farmers.  Throughout this harvest season, Bayer is asking everyone to say “Thank You” to American farmers by sharing #HeresToTheFarmer on social media.  For every share, Bayer will donate a meal* to someone in need through Feeding America®.  Bayer’s goal for the campaign is to donate 1 million meals.

“America’s farmers work hard to give all of us safe, affordable and nutritious food.  But there are many families who don’t know where their next meal will come from.  Bayer is proud to work with The Food Bank for Central & Northeast Missouri to help curb hunger right here in Missouri,” said Ray Kerins, Senior Vice President for Bayer.

Bayer will present the grant to The Food Bank for Central & Northeast Missouri at 4:30 p.m. on October 7 at the Bayer Tent near the main entrance to the concert.

Taste of the Tigers is Oct. 5


Have you ever wanted to run down onto Faurot Field and kick a ball? Or meet the Golden Girls, Truman the Tiger or “Voice of the Tigers” Mike Kelly in person? The Food Bank and the Missouri Tigers are giving you that opportunity. 

Taste of the Tigers is an event like no other that will allow participants to have on-field experiences, meet Mizzou celebrities and enjoy food and drink all at Memorial Stadium.

Some of Columbia’s finest eateries will be set up for attendees to sample tailgate-inspired bite-sized creations. Beverage vendors will also be on hand to serve spirits and brews. Additionally, participants will have the chance to vie for prizes such as Mizzou Athletics packages and other unique experiences. Proceeds from the event will benefit Score Against Hunger, The Food Bank’s largest annual fundraising campaign to help share food and bring hope to neighbors in need. 

The Food Bank Executive Director Lindsay Young Lopez says she hopes to make this first-of-its-kind event an annual celebration among Mizzou fans.

“The Food Bank is the Official Charitable Partner of Mizzou Athletics, and we really wanted to find a way to bring that partnership to the community,” she says. “This allows Tiger fans to get a truly unique football experience while also helping those in need. We hope to see everyone at the Zou!” 

Smithfield Foods' Helping Hungry Homes, Schnucks donate 36,000 pounds of ribs


Smithfield Foods’ Helping Hungry Homes® initiative, a program focused on alleviating hunger and helping Americans become more food secure, joined forces with Schnuck Markets, Inc. to donate 36,000 pounds of protein to The Food Bank for Central & Northeast Missouri.

The donation, equivalent to 160,000 servings, will help those fighting hunger across central and northeast Missouri, where one in six individuals are food insecure.

“Protein is an essential part of a balanced meal,” said Lindsay Young-Lopez, executive director of The Food Bank. “It is greatly needed and an often-difficult resource to acquire. We are tremendously appreciative of Smithfield’s generous donation.”

Smithfield and Schnucks representatives presented the donation to The Food Bank Sept. 6 at an event that raised awareness of hunger’s impact in the local community. Members from all three organizations discussed the significance of protein donations in helping the more than 100,000 individuals The Food Bank serves regularly.

“As a company, Schnucks understands how imperative it is to support the fight against hunger,” said Joanie Taylor, Schnucks director of community relations. “We are especially thrilled to partner with Smithfield and The Food Bank to offer relief to our local community members who are seeking assistance.”

Smithfield’s donation to The Food Bank was a part of the Helping Hungry Homes® 2017 nationwide donation tour. Throughout the annual tour, Smithfield will provide large-scale protein donations to nearly 60 food banks across the country. This donation adds to the more than 65 million servings of protein donated since 2011.

“At Smithfield, we understand the importance of proper nutrition and value our responsibility to raise awareness of and alleviate hunger throughout the country,” said Dennis Pittman, senior director of hunger relief for Smithfield Foods. “Today, we are proud to offer our support to The Food Bank and provide delicious, protein-rich meal options to people throughout its service area.”

Sharing blessings in Camden County


On an especially hot day in July, Al and his cousin Toby sat in a vehicle while waiting for their turn to go through the line at a Mobile Pantry in Camden County.

Al, a former lawn care specialist, did not balk at the heat, saying he would rather be cutting grass in the near triple digit weather.

“I miss physical labor,” he said. “I loved long hours of mowing and hauling hay.”

Al has slowed down now and, having been self employed, lives on limited finances. Toby has a similar story - he worked construction jobs around the country before returning to his home to be closer to family.

The two ride together to the Camden County Mobile Pantry at Church of Osage Hills in Osage Beach on the second Friday of each month. In July, the two were thrilled to receive fresh watermelons, potatoes, apples and eggs. 

“It’s helping out a lot on groceries,” Al said. “Me and my wife are on a fixed income.”

Toby is quick to thank those who make the pantry possible. 

“It is a blessing,” he said. “God bless you.”

Greenhouse to share fresh produce in Phelps County

A greenhouse in Phelps County will increase the amount of fresh vegetables distributed to clients there.

A greenhouse in Phelps County will increase the amount of fresh vegetables distributed to clients there.

A greenhouse in rural Phelps County in The Food Bank’s southern region will now help provide fresh produce to clients in need at agencies in the area.

Earlier this year, The Food Bank staff and Ramona Rinehart from the Saint James Caring Center harvested more than 250 pounds of cabbage, beets, radishes and kale. In the future, tomatoes, peppers and zucchini will be added to the offerings. The greenhouse is the latest creative partnership The Food Bank has entered in an effort to get foods that encourage good health into the hands of those in need.

That mission aligns with Feeding America’s newly announced commitment to increase access to healthy food options. Some of the nation’s most prevalent health issues, illnesses such as obesity, hypertension and Type 2 diabetes, are directly related to unhealthy diets. That is especially problematic for the one in six adults who face food insecurity. The problem is multi-faceted. Those living on fixed incomes have to make tough budget decisions, and energy-rich starches, sugars and fats are the most inexpensive way to fill empty stomachs.

For years, food banks operated on a non-perishable grocery donation system, which led to the distribution of highly processed foods. While canned foods, rice, beans, cereal and peanut butter remain staples, The Food Bank is striving to increase the percentage of produce, protein and dairy products provided. Partnerships with growers and organizations will help, says Lindsay Young Lopez, executive director of The Food Bank. In the next few years, the Columbia Center for Urban Agriculture and partner affiliates will open an Agricultural Park in Columbia that will produce 50,000 pounds of fresh produce for The Food Bank yearly.

The Phelps County greenhouse is expected to produce thousands of pounds for pantries in that area. And other farmers and growers throughout The Food Bank’s 32-county service area are also contributing by making fresh donations to local pantries.

“The bottom line is that we all deserve to have access to foods that keep us healthy,” Lopez says. “We so appreciate these new partnerships that will help us increase our clients’ access to foods to encourage.”

Potbelly Sandwich Shop event to benefit The Food Bank

Potbelly Sandwich Shop announced today that its first shop in Columbia will be open to the public on Tuesday, July 25. The shop is located in Forum Development Group’s Broadway Bluffs at 2500 Broadway Bluffs Drive on East Broadway, near the intersection with Highway 63. The widely acclaimed neighborhood hangout features toasty warm sandwiches, hand-dipped milkshakes and live music, all making it “The Best Place for Lunch.”

Restaurant and hospitality aficionado Evan Thomas will open this Columbia location. Thomas plans to give back to the local neighborhood with an oven-warming event on July 24, with proceeds going to The Food Bank for Central & Northeast Missouri. For a $6 donation, Oven Warming attendees will receive a sandwich, chips and a drink either during lunch hours, 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., or dinner hours from 5:30 to 8 p.m. Reserve a meal here.

“Opening our first location here is definitely a cause for celebration,” Thomas said. “Since I worked at my first Potbelly shop in Chicago, I couldn’t wait to open my own location. Now, I’m ready to bring a great lunch experience and fun neighborhood vibe to families and students throughout Columbia.”

A Columbia native, Thomas brings nearly 20 years of restaurant and customer service experience to his new shop, including working as the general manager at numerous Potbelly corporate locations in Chicago. 

Thomas will manage the Potbelly Sandwich Shop in Columbia, which includes day-to-day operations, hiring new staff and booking local musicians who perform regularly at the shop. Hours of operation will be Mondays through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.

“With this opening, we’re looking forward to watching Evan make Potbelly the best place for lunch in Columbia,” said Chris Birkinshaw, senior director of domestic franchising for Potbelly Sandwich Shop. “With Evan’s background in the industry and his extensive experience at Potbelly locations in Chicago, he has what it takes to make his location a perfect fit for locals and students looking for their favorite new favorite sandwich shop.”

Potbelly Sandwich Shop first opened in Chicago in 1977, and operates more than 400 shops across the United States. Franchisees operate more than 35 shops in the United States and abroad, and Potbelly plans to continue franchise growth in 2017.

For additional information about joining the Potbelly team or to learn more about the new Columbia location, visit

Summer lunch program to provide produce to families

This summer, The Food Bank will provide bags of fresh produce and produce vouchers to children attending Summer Food 4 Kids sites in Boone County.

The project is possible through funding from Conagra Brands Foundation’s Hunger-Free Summer Program. With a $20,000 grant, The Food Bank will allow summer feeding recipients to take fresh fruits and vegetables home after lunch. Additionally, up to two $5 vouchers will be given out to be used to purchase fresh produce at local grocery stores and additional $5 vouchers will be given weekly to be used at the Columbia Farmers’ Market.

“This is a great time of year to implement a program that increases distribution of fruits and vegetables,” says Lindsay Young Lopez, executive director of The Food Bank. “Summer months can be paradoxical. On one hand, gardens and greenhouses are overflowing with nutritious and delicious produce. On the other hand, some children no longer have access to subsidized school meals, meaning they are more at risk of food insecurity.”

Lopez is hopeful the produce program provides incentives for more children to attend summer feeding sites in Columbia. Lunches will be served from noon to 1 p.m. Monday through Friday at parks and churches located in high-need neighborhoods.

This is the second year The Food Bank has used summer feeding sites to educate children about healthy eating. A Farm to Table program began at Central Pantry last year to introduce children to new fruits and vegetables and ways to prepare them. “We want the next generation to understand where food comes from and how it is grown and harvested,” Lopez said. “We also want them to better appreciate nutritional foods that encourage healthy lifestyles.”

Good nutrition to welcome heroes

Tim Rich, director of Welcome Home, and Lindsay Young Lopez, executive director of The Food Bank.

Tim Rich, director of Welcome Home, and Lindsay Young Lopez, executive director of The Food Bank.

Homeless Veterans in need of shelter will now also find a hot meal, thanks to a new partnership that will save Welcome Home, Inc., money on food expenses.

The Food Bank has taken Welcome Home on as a partner agency and will provide food for Veterans living there at no charge to them or the organization. That means Welcome Home will be able to allocate its resources toward other expenses.

“We are thrilled to be part of efforts that help homeless Veterans in their transition back into
society,” says Lindsay Young Lopez, executive director of The Food Bank. “Our heroes in need
deserve nutritious, consistent meals, and we are delighted to be the agency providing that service.”

The partnership becomes effective when Welcome Home moves into its new $8.1 million campus on Rangeline Street in Columbia next month. The facility will provide 29 transitional housing rooms.

This is not the first time The Food Bank has brought attention to Veterans living at or below poverty. The Food Bank has been providing VIP Veteran Packs to Welcome Home since last year. The VIP Veteran Pack Program began in May 2016 as a pilot program in Boone County. With funding from Veterans United, 125 packs of ready-to-eat meals and personal care
items are also distributed monthly at Central Pantry and Patriot Place, an apartment complex for Veterans.

Bringing Welcome Home and The Food Bank together through a formal partnership is a natural fit, says Tim Rich, the executive director of Welcome Home who previously served as The Food Bank’s associate director.

“Agencies and partners working together is what makes Columbia a great community,” he says.
The Veterans’ shelter is The Food Bank’s 137th partner agency.

“When you support The Food Bank, you are also supporting so many wonderful organizations such as Welcome Home,” Lopez said. “We are proud to provide the food needed to feed residents there.”

Boonville graduate raises money, awareness for Buddy Pack Program

Alec Adair presents a check for $402 for Buddy Packs in Cooper County to The Food Bank Executive Director Lindsay Young Lopez.

Alec Adair presents a check for $402 for Buddy Packs in Cooper County to The Food Bank Executive Director Lindsay Young Lopez.

A Boonville graduate recently raised $402 for the Buddy Pack program there after hosting a youth basketball camp and using the experience for his senior class project.

Alec Adair said he selected hunger as his project topic because he recalled volunteering for the Buddy Pack Program when he was in middle school. After helping assemble them, he had the opportunity to distribute the packs to elementary school children.

 “You don’t think about hunger being a problem in Boonville,” he said. “You don’t think about it until you actually see it.”

This spring, Alec hosted a two-day boys and girls basketball camp, charging a $10 entry fee and asking parents for donations.

Then, he presented the project to his college preparatory English class.

“I presented to the class, but I didn’t ask for donations,” he said. “My teacher did, and $200 flew out of pockets. I was not expecting that. That was awesome, getting it from high school students. It restored my faith in humanity.”

Alec is now headed to Central Methodist University in Fayette, where he is considering a career in education, coaching or communications.

“I like working with people,” he said.

And he also plans to continue philanthropic efforts.

“This was an awesome experience.”

Lewis County Food Pantry to continue in Canton

The Food Bank Agency Relations Coordinator Barbara Borntrager honors longtime Lewis County Food Pantry director Nina Porter. The pantry will continue next month at a new location in Canton.

The Food Bank Agency Relations Coordinator Barbara Borntrager honors longtime Lewis County Food Pantry director Nina Porter. The pantry will continue next month at a new location in Canton.

The Food Bank for Central & Northeast Missouri will continue to serve those in need in Canton at a new food pantry location on Clark Street.

The Lewis County Food Pantry will distribute food at no charge to the public from 9 to 11 a.m. and 1 to 5 p.m. Friday, July 7, at 412 Clark Street. Recipients will need to bring something in which to carry groceries, such as boxes, bags or laundry baskets.

The new pantry location and volunteers are being organized by Mandy Gosik, pastor of the Canton Christian Church. She is currently working to form a 501©3 and a pantry board of directors.

The former location at the First Baptist Church held its last distribution this week. On Thursday, members of The Food Bank staff honored former director Nina Porter for her nearly two decades of service.

“We so appreciate Nina’s commitment to the people of Canton,” said Lindsay Young Lopez, executive director of The Food Bank. “And we are very grateful for Pastor Gosik taking the lead on making sure distribution will continue in Canton. We are confident this will be a seamless transition.”

Porter became involved in the pantry after her pastor asked her to help him one day. Eight years later, she became director. The pantry has grown from serving about 45 families to serving more than 260 families.

“I enjoy meeting the people and working with this group,” she said, referring to the volunteers around her. “They’ve been like family.”

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.”