Mobile pantry reaches communities in need

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COLUMBIA - The Food Bank for Central and Northeast Missouri is using mobile pantries to provide food to areas that are hard to reach. 

"The goal is to really identify those areas of need where there’s no brick and mortar facility or opportunity to be able to provide food to people are struggling," said Lindsay Lopez, executive director of the Food Bank. 

The nonprofit organization will send one of its 16 mobile pantries to Russellville in Cole County Tuesday afternoon. The city is home to a little more than 800 people, according to the US Census Bureau.

The Food Bank serves between 300 to 500 people at every mobile pantry event it operates in Cole County. 

"What we realized over the last few years is that the people we are serving are the most vulnerable population in need," Lopez said. 

She said the organization decided to shift its food banking model.   

"If we can give them access to the better quality foods, what we call foods to encourage, then not only can we help to satisfy their needs in terms of being hungry, but hopefully we can really improve the quality of their lives," she said. 

The mobile pantries are refrigerated, which allows for the transport of fresh food and cold beverages. 

The Food Bank currently serves 100,000 people every month in 32 Missouri counties.

Lopez said volunteering dips during the holiday season and she urges people to lend a hand to meet the demand. 

Volunteer Kara Pace came with a group of coworkers in response to the call for help. 

"We wanted to do something that gave back to our community around the holidays," she said.

For information on how to get involved with the Food Bank visit its website.

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