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July 2015

Feeding neighbors one meal at a time


he steam table was full, tablecloths in place, flowers on tables when the door to St. Peter’s Outreach in Joplin opened sharply at 11 a.m. The first of 118 diners registered at the door and stepped up to the serving line, receiving a china plate filled with chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, green beans, fruit salad and a slice of homemade bread. A dessert cart offered a variety of sweet treats. Seconds are always available, but no take-out. Pushing, shoving, fighting, yelling or disruptions are never allowed as the 50 seats at the ten tables are filled. When a seat is vacated, another diner is invited in — until the doors close at exactly 1 p.m. Terri Giarratano oversees the operation four days a week — lunch on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and Sunday brunch. The meals are free. But, for Terri, free should never mean diners don’t eat a good meal in a pleasant atmosphere. “Some people come in thinking no one cares about them,” she says. “We can give them a few hours when we care about them.” Terri doesn’t do it all on her own. On a recent Monday, she had a group of Iowa teens on a mission trip help out, along with her regular team of volunteers, including 92-yearold Irene Comer who sits at the registration table and 91-year-old Mary Schreiver who does the dishes. Kim Vaughn, a retired professional cook, runs the kitchen, putting out delicious and



healthy meals created from donations and food purchased from Ozarks Food Harvest. More than 10 years ago, St. Peter’s Outreach was housed in an old home, providing groceries, clothing and household items to the needy in Joplin. St. Peter’s stepped up to join other agencies after the 2011 tornado devastated Joplin. Her experience, especially during the tornado response, led Terri to realize that St. Peter’s needed to scale back its services, so she decided to focus on food. “Being small, we needed to do what we do best,” she explains. So the agency became only a food pantry. She decided to add a commercial kitchen in

the building constructed for the outreach in 2008. In less than six months, Terri raised the money and started the soup kitchen in March. “This is extremely personal to me,” she says. “It’s a ministry more than a job. So it’s easy for me to ask for money.” The pantry continues to serve families each week, but plans are to stop regular pantry days, keeping only a small supply of pantry foods for emergencies and special cases. Terri believes that the switch is a win-win move. “It costs us a whole lot less, and we are helping a whole lot more people,” she explains. “Like our slogan says, ‘We feed our neighbors one meal at a time.’”

Crimson House gets a makeover How to help senior citizens apply for SNAP Tips on keeping mice, ants out of pantries OFH sets new distribution record for FY15


Makeover puts C-Street ahead of curve


uring most of the week, the “Girls Room” at Crimson House is filled with chairs, tables and … girls. But twice a month, when the church hosts its C-Street Connect food pantry, it is filled with fresh food and volunteers. Used as the cold food distribution center on pantry days, the room had been dark and dreary with insufficient lighting. Thanks to Keller Williams Real Estate, Crimson House was selected to benefit from its annual Red Day program. The room has been transformed with bright pink walls, uplifting messages and plenty of light. When Keller Williams selected Crimson House for a make-over, they had no idea about the pantry. They picked the Commercial Street church for its outreach to

the homeless community, including serving more than 7,000 meals last year. However, when the volunteers from the real estate firm arrived on a pantry day to do some prep work, their eyes were opened to the amazing food ministry C-Street Connect does. C-Street feeds more than 400 families each month, filling up carts with fresh produce, bakery items, frozen and canned items, as well as USDA commodities for those who qualify. Using the church’s basement fellowship hall and classrooms, about 30 volunteers unload and stack food from a Food Bank truck, pack it into boxes and bags, greet and register hundreds of participants using Charity Tracker in real time, and deliver the loaded wagons to waiting cars, then clean up for the church’s regular activities.

“It just really spoke to them,” said Pastor John Pace. “They couldn’t believe it.” C-Street Connect began in 2013 after The Kitchen Inc. closed its food pantry. That is when Crimson House became a member agency of Ozarks Food Harvest with both its congregate feeding and pantry programs. Crimson House Ministries bought the old church on Robberson Avenue, just south of Commercial Street, in 2003. Built in 1918, the building was in rough shape, but they believed they could fix it up over the coming years. They did that until 2012 when straightline wind damaged most of the roof. They were able to fix it, but it put them “behind the curve” on getting other needed repairs done. “Now we are ahead of the curve,” said Pace. “It’s such a blessing.”

Tips to keeping facilities clear of mice and ants

Eeek! It’s a mouse. No one wants to find a mouse, ants or other bugs in their pantry. Here are some hints to keep your facility critter-free. • Empty banana boxes immediately and store food and other products appropriately. • Clean out boxes and store indoors until

they can be returned. • If you pick up food products from OFH or another site, be sure your vehicle is clean and free of debris and bugs. Following these steps will help you avoid infestation and help us track the source if you do find that mouse. Eeek!

DID YOU KNOW? Among Ozarks Food Harvest network of member agencies, 16 percent use Charity Tracker, and that amount continues to grow. This does not include Joplin-area agencies, which are at 100 percent usage! Missed appointments at The Food Bank are subject to a restocking fee of 10 cents/pound. Bungee cords and ratchet straps work great to secure loads when picking up food?

TEFAP corner

Questions? Ask OFH!

Do you have questions or concerns about TEFAP? The point of contact for all things TEFAP is The Food Bank! Keeping in mind the large number of food pantries in the state, The Food Distribution Unit requested that all questions and concerns about TEFAP be directed to OFH. Other things to remember: TEFAP records must be kept on file for three years. The TEFAP agreement (FD-6) must be kept on file and made readily available during a review. When distributing TEFAP/nonTEFAP product together, make sure you are packing the TEFAP product separate from the non-TEFAP product. In other words, food items must be in a separate bag/box. USDA produce determined nonconsumable must be destroyed! It cannot be given to a farmer. TEFAP is a self-declaration program. Clients are not required to give information other than verbally stating they qualify under the income guidelines.

CONTACT US Ozarks Food Harvest Member Services 2810 N. Cedarbrook Ave. Springfield, Mo., 65803 memberservices@ (417) 380-5007


SNAP helps sustain seniors


t’s not news to almost anyone who works at one of Ozarks Food Harvest’s member agencies that senior citizens are the least likely to apply for SNAP benefits, or food stamps. In fact, nationally, only 50 percent of seniors who likely qualify for the food assistance program will apply. Of all the people served by our member food pantries and feeding centers, 17 percent are ages 60 and older, and most qualify for SNAP. If the half who have not even applied for the program would get those benefits, it would make a big difference in their food security and health, and would relieve some of the pressure on food assistance agencies. Encouraging senior citizens to consider applying for food stamps is no easy task. Here is a short list of some of the top roadblocks and how you can help address them: • Many seniors have never taken advantage of government assistance programs and believe the programs are either not intended for them or receiving such assistance would be wrong. You can help them see that they have been supporting these programs through taxes, just like Social Security, all their working life. It is now their time to benefit from them. • They have applied in the past and been turned down. Explain that their situation and the guidelines to qualify usually change every year. If they are living on a fixed income, have


housing, medical and other bills, they may now qualify. • Some seniors are intimidated by the application. They are unsure how to answer the questions and afraid of “getting into trouble” if they do it wrong. Assure them that the OFH SNAP Coordinator will walk them through the application process and make sure they understand all the questions. • They have been told that they will go through a lot of trouble only to get the minimum $16. Actually, benefits range based on income and expenses. The SNAP Coordinator can explain the benefits and make the application process hassle free. • Seniors may not be comfortable going into a social services office to apply. Tell them OFH’s SNAP Coordinator will fill out their application by phone, submit it to the state and even check on its status. SNAP benefits could be the difference between having enough food to maintain a healthy life and struggling to afford the nutrition needed for many senior citizens. You can become a SNAP ambassador by referring seniors or clients to OFH’s SNAP Coordinator. Referring seniors for assistance not only helps your agency, but allows you to provide more meals to your clients at no extra cost. Call OFH’s Jordan Browning at 417-429-0853 or email to learn more.

The Ozarks Food Harvest Agency Conference is April 11, 2016 at the Ramada Oasis Convention Center.

FY15 sets record distribution


s Ozarks Food Harvest wraps up another fiscal year, lots of records have been made — pounds of food distributed, miles traveled, donations accepted and grants awarded. But those numbers are really meals on the tables of southwest Missouri families, thanks to The Food Bank’s wonderful member agencies. In 2014-15, more than 13.6 million meals were served through OFH’s agency network! Those meals came from food donated by caring communities, government programs and purchased and donated food from The Food Bank’s distribution center. When agencies join OFH, they understand there is a shared maintenance fee of up to 18 cents per pound of food. The current fee is 12 cents per pound. But with more than 82 percent of the food provided at no cost, that average cost per member was actually only 5 cents per pound over the past year. The amazing thing is that those bargain prices have, in large part, been the result of an effort to deliver more healthy food to the families we serve. Ozarks Food Harvest made a commitment to focus on healthy food — fresh produce, meats and milk products. Area grocers,


wholesalers, gardeners and others have stepped up to provide more than 3.6 million pounds of produce in 2014-15, and all of that has been provided free of charge to Ozarks Food Harvest agencies. SNAP outreach has also generated meals on tables. During fiscal year 2015, OFH’s network of agencies have helped more than 85 families receive food stamp benefits. That means The Food Bank was able to provide nearly 110,000 meals just from SNAP referrals! One SNAP client remarked, “We know that no matter what bills are due or when our

Good news at The Food Bank Positive results from FA audit Feeding America visited Ozarks Food Harvest earlier this year for a compliance review. The results were very good. Based on the reviewer’s meeting with board members, it’s obvious that OFH has moved beyond compliance into setting best practice standards. Among the positive things the Feeding America representative said, two stand out: 1. OFH’s food safety and inventory processes are in the top five, if not the No. 1, out of the 200 Feeding America food banks. 2. The reviewer said that since his last visit here in 2012, he’s reviewed more than 40

food banks. He has recommended one or more of OFH’s best practices to every food bank he’s reviewed, and continues to do so.

OFH wins $70,000 from Walmart Walmart launched the nationwide Fight Hunger. Spark Change. initiative in April, calling on the public to take action in the fight against hunger. Through this month-long campaign, Ozarks Food Harvest will receive an estimated $70,000 from Walmart, which will allow The Food Bank to provide approximately 350,000 meals to share with struggling families in the Ozarks.

paycheck comes that we will have food.” The top three referral sites were Crimson House – Springfield, Least of These – Nixa, and Good Samaritan – Waynesville. For more information on becoming a SNAP Ambassador, contact OFH SNAP Coordinator Jordan Browning at 417-429-0853 or email Ozarks Food Harvest wants to say “thank you” to all its agencies for their hard work and dedication. Because of their efforts, thousands of food insecure families will have a healthy meal today.

LOOKING AHEAD... The warehouse will be closed for inventory July 29-31 and Aug. 27, 28 and 31 The Food Bank will be closed for Labor Day, Sept. 7 Food Safety classes for pantries and feeding centers will be offered Sept. 18

Network News | July 2015  
Network News | July 2015