Healthier foods, convenient locations new motto for the local food bank
COLUMBIA- The Central and Northeast Missouri Food Bank has started an initiative to provide less canned foods and more healthy foods to its users.
"We are always looking strategically at our service area, and where there is a gap and how we can fill it up," said Lindsay Lopez, executive director of the Central and Northeast Missouri food bank.
A healthy food campaign called Food to Encourage has been launched to give people alternatives to the traditional canned and packaged foods.
"It's produce, it's protein, dairy, whole grains. Those items that have a greater nutritional value," Lopez said.
61 percent of the food distributed last year was considered healthy, marking a record amount in the food bank's history.
The Food Bank serves, on average, 100,000 people per month in 32 counties including Boone and Cole County.
"We have, what we refer to as, a mobile pantry, which is a pantry on wheels that allows us to go into largely more of the rural areas," Lopez said.
The mobile food pantries store between 10,000 and 12,000 pounds of perishable food items. They serve between 85 and 110 households daily.
Food Bank Director of Programs Eric Maly said, "I think we see a need throughout the community. There are always going to be people who are struggling and so the mobile pantry is set up so we can go to those communities where people live."
One important factor through all of this is funding for new technology.
Money for the mobile pantries has come from numerous donors, which helped the food bank purchase a 50-foot refrigerated trailer.
The organization uses the trailer to preserve 15,000 pounds of perishable food items.
Maly has one goal in mind for present Food Bank users.
"I'd love to see the need go away so that we would be able to one day say this particular site doesn't need a mobile pantry anymore because families are no longer in need" he said.
The newest mobile pantry will be in northwest Columbia. It went into service April 25.