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old to help bag potatoes and meat. Bring your friends, your parents, your grandparents! We guarantee a fun time and more importantly you can leave from your shift knowing that you made meat and potatoes available to many folks in our serving area!” Columbians responded in droves. Last year, according to the food bank’s website, “More than 38,000 volunteers donated a whopping 90,000 hours of service, or the equivalent of 43 full-time employees!” So at year’s end, Peggy will focus on new challenges. But hunger isn’t going away. In fact, there are indications that the need is intensifying, even right here in the 32-county bread basket served by our local food bank. Last year, researchers at the University of Missouri Interdisciplinary Center for Food Security released the latest Missouri Hunger Atlas. The numbers are startling. According to that study, Missouri ranks seventh in the nation for food insecurity. The Show-Me State ranks fifth-highest for child food insecurity. More than 380,000 Missouri households experience food insecurity and another 160,000 households experience very low food security. That translates into 1.3 million Missourians who experience some level of food insecurity. The atlas states that between 2000 and 2010, Missouri experienced the single largest increase in the percent of its population considered food insecure (a 7.4 percent increase) or vulnerable to very low food security (a 4.4 percent increase). In the 32 counties served by the Columbia-based food bank, more than 118,000 people are living at or below the poverty line. Almost 30,000 of those people live in Boone County. Think about it — that’s damn near the population of Jeff City. But reaching those 30,000 people is not as easy as an air drop into one spot. It’s hard to believe that in this wealthy nation, the scourge of hunger still exists. It’s harder still to believe it happens in Columbia. But for every empty stomach, there’s a unique story. And in the back of my mind somewhere, I hear Peggy’s voice: “There but for the grace of God, go I.” It’s something to think about this Thanksgiving. NOVEMBER 2014 INSIDE COLUMBIA

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Inside Columbia Magazine November Issue  
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