Central Missourians Try to Help End Child Hunger

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COLUMBIA - According to The Food Bank for Central and Northeast Missouri, the state was ranked seventh nationally in the number of people not sure where their next meal will come from. For children, the ranking was even higher. Boone County alone had more than 6,000 "food insecure" children.

Scott Gordon, Communications Coordinator for The Food Bank said food insecurity was often a result of being in a low-income family.

"There are many reasons for child hunger. The economy is one underlying reason," Gordon said.
"People, their means don't stretch sometimes to the end of the month as well as they used to. Some things actually have to give. Unfortunately, often times food is one of the things that people will give up in order to pay an electric bill, or a gas bill, or some other "have to" bill."

During the 2012-2013 school year, more than 8,500 children in Boone County enrolled in free or reduced lunch program.
The Central Missouri Food Bank, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and local grocery stores were making an effort in the fight against childhood hunger.

The Feds Feed Families campaign is a government-wide effort to collect food for families in need across the nation. The program started in 2009, but 2012 was the first year Columbia's Truman Memorial Veterans' Hospital joined the effort.

Shannon Newell, committee chair for the Feds Feed Families food drive, said there are higher expectations for the facility's second year in the campaign.

"Our goal is 10,000 pounds. We raised a little bit over that last year, but we think we might be able to exceed what we did last year," Newell said.

In addition to a traveling cart, the committee placed collection bins at the hospital's entrances and exits for convenient drop-off from employees. While patients and visitors could donate food if they wanted, Newell said the collections were targeted toward government employees.

Food Bank volunteers picked up donations weekly, and weighed the food to keep up with progress. 2013 donations were geared toward helping The Food Bank stock up items for their Buddy Pack program.

The program was going into its ninth year. The program provided children with meals for weekends during the school year.

Although school was not yet in session, Newell said the committee reminded potential donors to give items that can be used for Buddy Packs.

A program called Hunger-Free Summer helped Mid-Missouri residents fight childhood hunger by donating to many local grocery stores.

"All a customer has to do at a check-out counter is ask for a scan card, which they will have there. Scan it once for $1, scan it a hundred times for $100. You can add that to your grocery bill, and the money goes straight into our child hunger programs," Gordon said.

Gordon said $1 will buy 15 pounds of food, or 12.5 meals through the Food Bank's system.