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By Echo Menges
In Knox County there are a number of organizations working to ensure our citizens do not go hungry. Currently state and local organizations are working to ensure that rising food prices won’t keep food off the table for local families.
Two organizations are on the front lines of fighting hunger locally. They are the Knox County Food Cupboard, which distributes food monthly, and the Knox County Food Pantry, which distributes food in emergency situations. Both organizations are centrally located in Edina and their services are available to every citizen in the county no matter their circumstance.
The Food Bank for Central and Northeast Missouri (TFB) supplies the Knox County Food Cupboard and makes the monthly distribution of food items possible. TFB is the Food Cupboard’s sole supplier.
According to TFB Northeast Regional Coordinator Steve Yager, TFB distributes food to 135 non-profit hunger relief agencies and 80 elementary schools in 32 Central and Northeast Missouri counties, which includes Knox County and every county touching it.
In 2013 TFB and the Knox County Food Cupboard distributed 492,507 pounds of food in Knox. TFB estimates the monetary value of each pound to be $1.69, which puts the value of food at over $832,000 just for Knox County.
According to Food Cupboard Director Gary Clair, the highest number of families served in the history of the Knox County Food Cupboard was 346 families, which were served in the fall of 2013. Last month the Food Cupboard served 276 families, which range is size.
According to Clair the amount of food delivered by TFB varies from month to month. The food is ordered online and by telephone. Different types of food are reserved on a first come first serve basis.
“We have to see what’s available. If there is fresh produce available we can get it. We’re not guaranteed that every month. A lot of that is seasonal. Sometimes we get tomatoes, watermelon, cantaloupe, potatoes, onions. It varies every time,” said Clair. “It’s kind of like an auction.”
According to Clair, TFB furnishes transportation of food from Columbia to Edina each month at no cost to the Food Cupboard.
“If we had to furnish transportation it would be something very different. It would cost several hundred dollars to get a truck and a driver to have it delivered. We’re very fortunate to have them deliver it to us,” said Clair.
According to TFB Resource Development Coordinator Theresa Spaedy, TFB is working with Feed America and Monsanto to help put more protein into the mouths of families through two programs called “Invest an Acre” and “Project Protein.”
Those who donate monetarily to Invest an Acre will have their money matched dollar for dollar by Monsanto.
“Anybody can donate by writing a check to Invest an Acre and giving it to TFB. From there the money is sent on to Feed America. Once a quarter they send us a check back plus matching funds from Monsanto. It comes in quarterly. The amount varies each time,” said Spaedy. “We take all of the donor’s money and all of the Monsanto money and we purchase one pound packages of ground meat through a program here called Project Protein. We started that because we had a difficult time finding good sources of quality meat.”
According to Spaedy, high meat prices at the grocery store are taking their toll on everyone.
“Pork is supposed to reach an all time high in June. Cattle prices are at an all time high. Not only do we struggle to get it, but so do the people we serve because the prices are so high. Another thing that is contributing to the need is the fact that this year, with the exception of a handful of counties, we’re anticipating that Share the Harvest is going to be impacted. This year hunters are going to be limited to one antler less deer. In the past they have not been limited. You have people all over up there who rely on the deer harvest to feed their families. This year, because hunters are going to be limited to one, we expect a to see a decrease in donations and an increase in need. We’re not regretful of that. The reason it’s being done is the population has gotten to a point they had to do that. We have an appreciation for what they’re doing. It’s just one of those factors that’s pushing us harder to find a solution for the shortage.”
According to Spaedy, Project Protein will utilize funds TFB acquires from the Invest an Acre program to purchase meat through Project Protein.
“In Project Protein our first partner was Cargill Pork in Marion County. A partnership came together that allows us to buy discounted hogs and a locker that allows us to have discounted processing. The pork is ground and put into one-pound packages at 82 and 86 percent lean. It is packaged to have substantial amount of lean meat.”
A farmer can donate to Invest an Acre and have their donation matched by Monsanto through any ADM elevator. Soon they will also be able to donate through MFA elevators as well.
“When they sell grain they can designate a certain amount to donate. Those donations are tax deductible,” said Spaedy.
The Knox County Food Pantry works to provide food for people experiencing an emergency food shortage to anyone or any family living in the county.
The Food Pantry relies on local donations and is kept going by continuing donations from local churches, businesses and citizens and various food drives. One such food drive recently took place in Edina, Baring and Hurdland and was part of a United States Postal Service campaign called “Stamp Out Hunger.”
On May 10, 2014, a Stamp Out Hunger drive was conducted by Edina, Baring and Hurdland mail carriers with the assistance of the Knox County Cub Scout Pack No. 28. Over 1300 pounds of food and other donations were accepted during the drive, all of which will be distributed by the Food Pantry to Knox countians experiencing emergency food shortages.
Those who need food immediately in Knox County are asked to call or visit the Knox County Sheriff’s Office. Paperwork will need to be filled out before food is made available which usually happens the same day the request is made. There is a limit to the number of times a person/family may receive an emergency supply of food in a year, though each case is assessed individually and it is possible for an exception to be made.
Anyone wishing to take advantage of the monthly food pickup at the Knox County Food Cupboard is asked to arrive at the Food Cupboard between 7:30 a.m. and 11:00 a.m. or between 1:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. this Friday, June 6, 2014. Monthly food pick up is the first Friday, following the first Thursday, of every month.
Please make sure your trunk is cleaned out and bring a photo I.D. along with a power or water bill that shows you live in Knox County. Also, Food Cupboard organizers ask that no one park in the Post Office parking lot or in front of the Bink’s Firehouse in Edina.
“We want to be in good graces with our Post Office and the Fire Department and want to make sure people don’t use those places for parking,” said Clair.
The Knox County Food Cupboard and Food Pantry are housed in the same building it is located on the northwest corner of East Morgan and South 2nd Streets in Edina.
To learn more about Invest an Acre, the Protein Project visit TFB’s website at sharefoodbringhope.org.