A fresh look at area food pantries has prompted 29th District State Senator Jack Goodman to add his office's resources to bringing attention to local hunger issues.
|Goodman announced the "Season of Hope" food drive that will help provide families in need with groceries to prepare a traditional Christmas dinner.|
|"Throughout Missouri, but particularly in the Ozarks, when we see a need we don't wait for the government to come and bail us out," said Goodman. "When we see a neighbor in trouble, we reach out to help. Never was this more evident than during the tornados of 2002 and ice storm of 2007 and it is again time for us to help out those in need during these tough economic times."|
|The idea of helping to host a food drive originated during a recent meeting Senator Goodman attended in Branson. During that meeting a constituent pointed out the need and asked Goodman if he would be interested in helping in a food drive.|
Intrigued by the idea, Goodman instructed staff to identify and reach out to every food pantry in his district in order to determine what was really happening with hunger relief organizations. This research confirmed a persistent and rapidly growing need for additional supplies this holiday season.
|"Our staff called every food bank we could identify in the district," said Patrick Morrow, Goodman's chief of staff. "What we found was a general and increasing need for food."|
|The problem of hunger has gone from a temporary resolution of lacking resources to an ongoing chronic state of food insecurity, described by the Hunger Task Force as "a condition in which people lack basic food intake to provide them with the energy and nutrients for fully productive lives."|
By this definition, Goodman's staff found one in six children in the district are food "insecure."
|"When our neighbors and their children are going hungry, we cannot ignore it," Goodman said. "As just one part of the regional effort to address this problem, our food drive hopes to help ensure that on Christmas Day families in our district will not have to be concerned about whether they have food on the table."|
|Morrow said the food banks contacted by Goodman's staff have been busy this fall. Need has grown over the last year, in part with the loss of jobs in the deteriorated economy.|
|"Even though people in the Ozarks are struggling, they have been responding to those in need," Morrow said. "Not many food banks we called said our shelves are empty. A lot of great things are being done. We want to be part of that."|
Goodman hopes to have Season of Hope fully organized within the next couple of weeks. The final goal will be to distribute food at multiple drop points throughout the district about one week before Christmas.
|Food pantries listed by Goodman's staff as accepting donations partner with Ozarks Food Harvest, which provides umbrella service and broader storage facilities for donations.|
Crosslines, the primary food pantry in Monett for many years, agreed to be an affiliate. Crosslines leaders talked to Goodman's staff about the organization seeking larger facilities that would support a broader food mission.
|Those interested in donating can leave groceries at the following locations throughout the 29th Senate District:|
* Barry County: Kornerstone, 20935 Farm Road 1252, Shell Knob, MO 65747, 417-858-2887. Days open: Monday to Friday 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
|* Lawrence County: Harvest Fellowship Food Pantry, Aurora, MO 65605, 417-229-2430. Days open: Monday to Friday 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.|
|* McDonald County: Valley View Community Church, 206 Sanders Avenue, Pineville, MO 64856, 417-223-4824. Days open: Wednesdays 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.|
Recommended donations include: turkeys, hams, boxed stuffing, canned sweet potatoes, canned corn, canned cranberry sauce, canned green beans, canned gravy, gravy mixes, boxed macaroni and cheese.
"We're inviting people to make donations," Morrow said. "Starting this week, we'll be putting out food collection boxes at these and other locations."