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Partnerships, networks and trucks assist the Food Bank's fight against food insecurity

Ava Gough
The food package assembly line at The Food Bank for Central and Northeast Missouri on March 3, 2022 in Columbia, Missouri. The boxes are packed with fresh produce by volunteers before being shipped to the partner agencies of the food bank.

By working with over 145 partner agencies and creating interactive volunteer events, The Food Bank for Central and Northeast Missouri is using partnerships and supply networks to help in its fight against food insecurity within Missouri.

According to spokesperson Katlynn Adkins the food bank serves 32 counties in Missouri through their partner agencies. And not all of those places are easy to access. In more secluded areas of Missouri there are often no food pantries available or places to host temporary banks, so the food bank uses its mobile pantries to deliver food in bulk to reach them.

“The mobile pantries are truckloads of food that go to rural areas and volunteers come in to hand out the food in those areas,” said Adkins. “It’s usually once a month so people can pick up a lot of food until the next month.”.

Partners are key to this network of distribution.

“You can think of us like a wholesaler of food and we provide that food at no cost to our partner agencies who are spread across those 32 counties,” said Adkins, “so that’ll be places like food pantries, soup kitchens, nursing homes, senior living support, sometimes daycares, shelters, etc. and they give the food to the people.”

According to its website, The Food Bank for Central and Northeast Missouri is a member of Feeding America, which allows the organization to provide such large bundles of food for low costs.

“As a member of Feeding America, the Food Bank is able to work with manufacturers, wholesalers, processors, growers, retailers and restaurants to secure donations and food at reduced costs.”

Once they receive the food, the food bank then distributes it to partner agencies which are located in areas where people are most in need of service.

“We provide to partner agencies,” said Adkins of agencies such as Great Circle, the Voluntary Action Center, and Rainbow House.. “So we have a lot of different people that we serve because we have a lot of different partner agencies.”

According to its website the food bank receives more than 30 million pounds of food each year and reaches an average of 100,000 Missourians per month, even in the most rural regions.

Although The Food Bank for Central and Northeast Missouri is able to work through its 32 partner agencies and the rural areas of Missouri, help from the public is always needed and greatly appreciated, according to Adkins.

“There are a lot of people that make monetary donations which is incredibly helpful for us,” she said. “We have huge purchasing power because we buy so much food and by donating just one dollar we’re able to purchase four more meals for people in need.

Adkins says members of the public who want to help can engage with the effort through spexial events, including the upcoming April 30th event known as, “Float Your Boat.” It’s a cardboard boat race held at the Bass Pro Shop lake where teams are challenged to build cardboard boats and people donate money to see their favorite boat win or sink.

To learn more about that event or how to help The Food Bank for Central and Northeast Missouri, go to the Food Bank’s website.