Ozarks Food Harvest provided 23 million meals from July 2020 to June 2021, marking another record year of food distribution for children, families and seniors facing hunger in southwest Missouri.
The Food Bank attributes their record-breaking distribution to their long-term focus on helping communities in their 28-county service area recover from the effects of COVID-19. Ozarks Food Harvest focused specifically on increasing Mobile Food Pantries, drive-thru food pantries and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP or food stamps) outreach to help meet the increased demand for food experienced by their network of 270 hunger-relief organizations.
SNAP outreach contributed 1.2 million meals to Ozarks Food Harvest’s record-breaking distribution and helped bring more than $5.6 million in economic stimulus to southwest Missouri. More than 1 million meals were distributed through Mobile Food Pantries to help feed more than 52,000 individuals facing hunger during the pandemic. In total, Ozarks Food Harvest has provided $37 million worth of food and funds across its service area.
“COVID-19 has put such a strain on our community, and its effects on food insecurity will linger for the foreseeable future," said Tommy Wohlgemuth, COO & CFO at SGC Foodservice in Springfield and Ozarks Food Harvest’s board president. "That’s why The Food Bank will continue to make sure children, families and seniors have access to food in the Ozarks.”
The Food Bank’s volunteers and members of the Missouri National Guard were also key in ensuring food distribution continued during the pandemic. Together, these groups spent nearly 27,000 hours sorting and packing 5 million pounds of food for Ozarks Food Harvest.
“Thousands of families will face hunger this year due to the effects of COVID-19, so we’re still operating as if this is an emergency,” said Bart Brown, president/CEO of Ozarks Food Harvest. “We’re so grateful for the community’s support as we work to get folks on the road to recovery in southwest Missouri.”
Before the COVID-19 crisis, 1 in 7 adults in southwest Missouri faced hunger. Now, Ozarks Food Harvest estimates 1 in 6 adults face hunger.