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Friday, May 27, 2016

People Helping People

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Last week the Ozark Food Harvest Mobile Food Pantry came to Nevada for the distribution of food and supplies. This is the second time for the Mobile Food Pantry to come to Nevada -- the first time was two months ago.

It has been nearly two months since Jerry Janes talked to me, about the involvement he and others from the Rotary Club gave people in Vernon County with the first visit of the Mobile Food Pantry. He was excited about the experience. Jerry said that the Rotary Clubs had purchased a semi-tractor and a beverage trailer making the Mobile Food Pantry possible.

The local cost is $250 to provide the fuel and the cost of transporting the food and supplies to Nevada. This was provided by On My Own. Jerry was also enthusiastic about the involvement of volunteers who helped with the distribution of the supplies that was brought in.

He suggested that I visit with Barbara Long, director of the Vernon County Out Reach and Food Pantry, about the Mobile Food Pantry. She is the one that coordinates the program in Vernon County.

Matter of fact, Jerry suggested that this would make a good subject for one of my columns. I have had several other subjects in recent weeks and had put his idea out of my mind, until I had stopped in last week to visit with Barbara. She brought up the subject as she was getting ready for the second distribution, which reminded me, that I had wanted to visit with her about the Mobile Food Pantry.

Barbara provided me with information about the Mobile Food Pantry, including what it does and how it is organized. When she first learned about the pantry coming to Vernon County she knew that it was a vast project and she was overwhelmed. That was when she went and presented the program to the Rotary Club, asking for help. They responded to the request.

As coordinator for the distribution in Vernon County, she invited me to attend when the goods were being distributed last Thursday. I accepted the invitation and went out to observe the process. Wow! It was a great experience to see what was going on and it was a good experience for a number of people involved with the process. It was well organized and appeared highly successful.

The food pantry makes the arrangements for those going for the distribution. Applications for receiving the distribution are made at the food pantry where income guidelines are applied.

For last week's distribution there were 267 families signed up which involved 522 individuals. This was about twice what were signed up for the first time that the Mobile Food Pantry came to town. The process took a total of two hours for the distribution. Barbara and her group had it well organized.

Each participant reported in and then waited for their name to be called to pick up their supplies. The beverage truck was parked inside of the Armory. Each one of the bins was full when the doors were opened on the two sides. The distribution included: food, diapers, toilet tissue and a number of other items. There were about 10,000 pounds of supplies brought in for those receiving the items.

An impressive part of the process was the large number of volunteers involved, estimated at about 50. They represented many areas of the community. There were Rotary members, representatives from On My Own, those from the drug court doing community service and many others. A volunteer pushes the grocery cart through for each participant. At each bin there was a volunteer handing out the items. They helped in many other ways.

The Ozark Food Harvest serves 29 counties in the southern part of Missouri. All of the food and supplies are donated. It is amazing that such a great amount is donated to provide to those in need. These supplies would not be available without the generosity of those providing items. One-half of a million pounds are sent out from the Springfield facility each month. There are about four or five Mobile Food Pantries each month. Other times the truck is used to provide food and supplies to the food pantries.

The Ozarks Food Harvest is the only food bank in the Ozarks. Ozarks Food Harvest has been collecting, warehousing and distributing food that might otherwise go to waste to a network of charities that serve low-income and disadvantaged people of all ages since 1983. Ozarks Food Harvest serves as a clearing house for close to 5 million pounds of donated food each year.

Toward the end of the distribution, Jerry made a comment, "A lot of help has gone out." Certainly, the Mobile Food Pantry is a demonstration of people helping people, thanks to a large number of contributors and others involved in a number of ways.

Anyone wanting information about the Mobile Food Pantry which will come to Vernon County every other month may contact the Community Outreach and Food Pantry at 229 North Cedar or by calling (417) 667-4339.

Leonard Ernsbarger
Leonard At Large