Homeless veterans receive meals through new program

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COLUMBIA - The Food Bank for Central and Northeast Missouri is beginning to advise residents Friday of its new program aiming to feed veterans.

The new pilot program is called "V.I.P Veteran Pack" and allows the food bank to package and distribute food and personal care items for those veterans who are homeless or living in poverty in Columbia.

Executive Director Lindsay Lopez said there are about 650 veterans in Boone County who live at or below the poverty line.

"Recently we recognized we did not have a program that was specifically targeted to veterans," she said. "This is a population who served our country and served all of us as citizens. The food bank really felt strongly that we needed to create a program that was specifically designated to veterans who are in need."

The packs include ready-to-go items like protein bars, soup and peanut butter.

Lopez said many of the veterans have special dietary needs that need to be met, so they careful select what items go into the packs.

"They are meals that are very accessible and don't require access to a stove or a microwave for example," Lopez said.

The food bank partnered with Patriot Place and Welcome Home in Columbia - places that house homeless veterans.

"We are excited about this new pilot project. We are hopeful we can identify sources so that this can be a program that is on going," Lopez said.

To donate or to learn more about the program, visit The Food Bank for Central and Northeast Missouri's website.