Audrain County Ranked Highest in Hunger, Lowest in Performance
MEXICO, Mo. - People in Audrain County are hungry.
The Missouri Hunger Atlas ranks Audrain County as the mid-Missouri county with the highest food insecurity but the lowest performance.
This "performance" ranking includes resources from the Food Stamp Program, Food Bank Distributions, National School Lunch Program, Summer Food Service Program, Women, Infants and Children Program, and Child and Adult Care Food Program.
The study also places the county high in overall need; top 50 of the 115 Missouri counties.
Local organizations in the county, like The Help Center in Mexico, said they see this need every day.
"Each time we hand out food there's new families that are coming on board that have never been to a food bank, that type of thing. So the need is getting greater and greater all the time and we're seeing that every time we disperse food," executive director Gary Jones said.
Jones said 282 kids under 18 years old came to The Help Center in September alone. More families are also travelling to Mexico from other parts of Audrain County. Jones said they travel at least 35 miles one way.
"With a person driving that far for food they're desperate."
Jones said he does not know of any other food pantries in Audrain County.
"Things that you and I take for granted, these, a lot of people can't. We have something that a lot of people don't have which is a job. There's the first thing."
Jones said another issue is the community is willing to help but many people simply do not know when there is a need.
"Until you're involved in this, it doesn't touch you. You don't see it. But hunger's everywhere," Jones said.
The Help Center holds its food pantry every first, third and fifth Wednesday of the month from 9 a.m. to noon.
For more information on how to help Audrain County, call (573) 581-3238.