Food Bank

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COLUMBIA - The Food Bank for Central and Northeast Missouri recently launched a new campaign in an effort to help hungry families for the holidays.

The "Food for the Holidays" campaign started the first part of November and will continue until the end of the year.  The food bank said it has seen an increased need this year and started the campaign in the effort to assist more families seeking help.

According to Sean Ross, Pantry Coordinator for the Central Pantry, the food bank served about 10,500 people per month last year and about 11,000 people per month on average this year.  Development Surpervisor Todd Pridemore said, however, that that number passed the 12,000 mark in recent months.

The goal of the campaign is to receive enough donations to provide 15 million meals by December 31, 2012.  As of November 14, the food bank has received 1,028,000 donations.

The campaign is multi-faceted, including a variety of efforts to cover as much ground as possible. The food bank along with local businesses will host events, fundraisers and food drives to help reach its goal.  Volunteers are always needed and welcomed, and the drives will collect monetary donations in addition to food.  Some of the upcoming events include Partnership for Hunger on November 20, the Columbia Mayor's Million Pound Challenge on December 18 and also a virtual food drive.  

"This time of year, lots of people want to help make a difference, and the Food for the Holidays campaign is just a simple way of helping all of us come together under one umbrella and focusing on what we're doing," Pridemore said.

With the high level of need this year, the food bank said the economy's downturn has changed the circumstances for a lot of families.

"We used to kind of feel like our role was more helping people temporarily, but some of that temporary hunger has become more chronic as unemployment has lasted longer, the economy has stayed in the dumps," said Rachel Ellersieck, Communications Coordinator.

The food bank said the campaign will not only help put food on tables this holiday season, but will also continue to help families going into 2013.