Missouri Food Bank Distributes Record Amount of Food

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COLUMBIA - The Food Bank for Central and Northeast Missouri closed in on distributing nearly 29 million pounds of food to its partner agencies on Tuesday. That tops the previous record of 28 million pounds it set in 2011. 

The food bank provides food for soup kitchens, shelters for the homeless, and programs for low income children and senior citizens. It's one of 14 food banks nationwide that does not charge agencies for the food it provides.

"We are extremely thankful that we've been blessed with so much product to give out and we have huge partners financially and food wise," said executive director Peggy Kirkpatrick.

However, Kirkpatrick also described the record as representative of the growing need for food in central and northeast Missouri. 

"The people who need help, I've never seen it so high and I've been doing this for 21 years," said Kirkpatrick. 

Kirkpatrick said the food bank is currently serving more than 110 thousand people per month in the 32 counties it represents.

In the Columbia pantry, "Last month alone we served over 14,475 people," said Kirkpatrick.

The food bank attributes the rise in the demand for food assistance to a number of things like higher grocery store prices, fluctuating gasoline prices, and uncertainty about the economy.

"It just takes one crisis, whether it's a big one or a little one, car breaking down or an unexpected medical bill, something like that, that could cause someone to need to go to a food pantry," said Kirkpatrick. 

Kirkpatrick said changes in the process for applying for food stamps may also lead to a rise in the need for food assistance. 

Even though the food bank has already set a record this year, it will continue to collect and donate more food. 

"Our biggest distribution period is always the fourth quarter of the year, so we don't know how much higher it's going to go," said Kirkpatrick.