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May 2015

Volunteers make all the difference annual Volunteer Appreciation Luncheon held at the Farmers Park Pavilion on April 15. Volunteers were recognized for their hours of service with awards, T-shirts, certificates and a catered lunch. A picture puzzle of Ozarks Food Harvest was assembled with pieces signed by Volunteers put together a puzzle during the annual volunteer each volunteer in appreciation luncheon hosted by ozarks food harvest. attendance. More than 2,400 Food Bank volunteers gave nearly 23,000 hours in fiscal year 2014, processing 3.5 million pounds of donation.

OFH, agencies host events to thank volunteers

Volunteers are an essential piece of the work of Ozarks Food Harvest and its member agencies. During the week of April 12-18, Volunteer Appreciation Week, the thousands of volunteers who make this work possible were honored throughout OFH’s service area. Here are some of the ways:

The Food Bank OFH honored over 50 volunteers at the


C-Street Connect On April 16, C-Street Connect at Crimson House honored their volunteers and spouses with a coffee and dessert bar. Included in the evening’s festivities were a brief history of the two-year old commodity pantry; the number of families assisted over the past year; a tour of Crimson House; and seven door-prizes, the last being two tickets to a Springfield Cardinals game. The highlight was hearing from several of the clients who had penned

God’s Storehouse reaches more clients Center helps feed kids in Mansfield Reminder on forms for TEFAP agencies Online presence becoming more crucial

their appreciation on comment cards to be shared that night.

Well of Life Food Pantry Volunteers at Center City Outreach–Well of Life Food Pantry work hard year-round to provide food for hungry people in Springfield. The agency will reward its volunteers for their efforts with a luncheon this summer after its annual board meeting. Each year the number of those honored increases, with last year’s event having about 40 volunteers. Board members say it is important to recognize the volunteers and express how crucial they are to the pantry.

Ozark County Senior Center Ozark County Senior Center in Gainesville will host its annual Volunteer Appreciation Dinner for its volunteers later this year. Each year, the center picks a theme and a menu to fit, which is prepared in its kitchen by SWMOA cooks. The local high school’s FCCLA chapter will help serve the sit-down dinner to the volunteers. There is usually some form of entertainment during the evening — it may be the cooks working a hula-hoop! The event will include a short program regarding the number of volunteer hours given to the organization this year and a small award for “Outstanding Volunteer of the Year.” It is nothing fancy, but the center said it always tries to make sure its volunteers know how important they are and how their gifts of time make such a difference in the lives of those in need in southwest Missouri.

ince the Mills family took over God’s Storehouse and Unexpected Treasures in Hartville, the pantry has seen a lot of positive changes. Victor and Joy Mills came out of retirement to take over the ministry in September, inviting son Jesse Mills to help. They reorganized the pantry so that it is always stocked with plenty of fresh, healthy food for clients, established a record-keeping method

that makes reports for Ozarks Food Harvest a snap, drew in more customers to the thrift store and fed more people fresh produce throughout the month. Working on a shoestring budget, with only a handful of mostly-elderly volunteers, son Jesse has proven to be the young blood they need. He has set up a Facebook page so the pantry has a regular online presence, uses Twitter to stir up excitement, embraced

Charity Tracker and even managed to get his story on KOLR10 during last year’s agency conference. Besides using social media, Jesse uses some old fashioned methods to get out the word. Like the small sign on the highway at the end of the long driveway that leads to God’s Storehouse, hidden behind the Dollar General Store. It simply says, “FREE bread and produce,” and it brings in the hungry and the curious alike. The pantry distributes commodities and donations two days a month, and served 13 percent more people during the winter since the Mills family has taken over. In March, they served 150 families. Feeding that many people requires organization, making sure that all the food is stored safety, distributed by the first-infirst-out method, and includes plenty of fresh produce. The amount of produce received by the pantry has increased by more than 50 percent. Serving more people more food has been made a lot easier by Charity Tracker, according to Jesse. “Charity Tracker is a blessing,” he said. Getting those reports ready on time is never a problem anymore. Jesse found that the pantry wasn’t fully utilizing the webbased data system, so he asked Ozarks Food Harvest’s Terra Lamb to help him out. She showed him how the system can not only track clients and services, but also put out data reports for The Food Bank, the pantry board and donors. Lucille, who started coming to God’s Storehouse last year, wraps up the impact the Mills have had on the pantry and the community: “They’re doing wonderful work. A lot of people are lucky to have ‘em!”

TEFAP AgenciesAre you using the right FD-15A forms?

All agencies distributing commodities must use the new income guidelines displayed on the “APPLICATION FOR RECEIPT OF USDA FOODS-FD-15A-PART 1” form and instruct clients to sign the form that reads “APPLICATION FOR RECEIPT OF USDA FOODS-

FD-15A-PART 2”. New forms were given to all agencies distributing USDA commodities either by delivery or during an agency’s pick-up time. If you have not received your new forms, please notify Member Services! All unused 2014 forms must be destroyed.

jesse mills connects to community through god’s storehouse’s online pages, which helps the pantry reach more clients in hartville.

God’s Storehouse reaches more clients


DID YOU KNOW? Ozarks Food Harvest recently received its third consecutive four-star rating from Charity Navigator. Only 12 percent of U.S. charities have achieved that goal. Forty-nine percent of our network has a website, 25 percent have Facebook and 18 percent have both! You can now access The Healthy Food Bank Hub via our website! The Hub provides a platform of evaluated tools, resources and recipes, showcases existing best practices and nutrition and health initiatives. Agencies can pick-up full pallets of produce or bakery without an appointment. Call (417) 380-5007 for availability.

Transporting food safely Whether your agency is on OFH’s Retail Pick-Up Program, Food Recovery Program or you pick-up food at The Food Bank or from a donor you solicited, the most basic food safety rules should be kept in mind during transportation! Maintaining high standards in safe food handling is a common principle considered when a donor determines who they will donate their perishable food items to. Food safety becomes even more important when temperatures start to rise. As the days heat up, keep in mind these simple, basic rules when transporting food: Refrigerated or frozen items must be in temperature-controlled devices. These devices may include: coolers, thermal blankets or a refrigerated truck/unit. Temperature guidelines must be adhered to. Product that falls outside of temperature guidelines must be destroyed. Refrigerated items must fall at or below 40 degrees and frozen items at or below 32 degrees. Hot items must fall at or above 140 degrees.

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

kids enjoy a meal at the ann short turner community center in mansfield.

Center helps feed hungry kids


or Jayme Keith, feeding children is her focus, so it is no wonder that the afterschool and summer programs at the Ann Short Turner Community Center in Mansfield are growing under her supervision. Jayme began working at the center in 2012 when the after-school program (CACFP) was offering only snacks and the summer program (SFSP) was serving only a handful of kids. This year, the after-school program is on target to serve more than 1,140 suppers, and registration for the summer program is getting off to a strong start. The kids who arrive at the community center after school look forward to a fun evening, including art work, trips to the park, gardening and a healthy supper. That meal might be a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with carrots, applesauce and string cheese, or a baked ham with macaroni and cheese, but it is always served with the kids in mind. For example, if braces make eating carrots a problem, some extra applesauce will make up the difference. Or if Jayme knows that a child is going to a baseball practice after leaving, and is not likely to eat again until after the sun goes down, she sends them off with a few extra treats to tide them over.


“I’m all about feeding kids,” she says. When Ozarks Food Harvest Nutrition Programs Coordinator Erin Thomason stopped in for a visit last year, she pointed out to Jayme that she could move her after-school program up from a snack to a full supper by adding a few more items to the plate, and Jayme jumped at the chance. An OFH grant allowed her to make the change, and the additional state reimbursement means it will be able to continue. “It is helping us keep our doors open for these programs,” she said. “The kids eat as much as they want … and we are able to serve kids even if they are not in the program if they’re hungry.” The summer program includes breakfast, lunch and an afternoon snack, fuel that keeps the kids going during a day of fun at the pool, the park and the gym. The program has grown, in part because of the good food the kids get. Last year, it was not unusual to have as many as 24 kids on a given day, with about half of those qualifying for state assistance. Having SFSP funding makes it all possible. “It means everything,” Jayme said. “A hungry child can’t very well have fun and have a good time.”

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

How does your garden grow?


pring is garden planting time, and several member agencies are taking advantage of all the fresh produce that grow in their gardens. For example, the Texas County Food Pantry is already working with area gardens to make sure clients will have plenty of fresh, local produce in their kitchens this summer, while the St. Clair County food pantry is tending its own garden area thanks to a local supporter. The food pantry in Houston has worked with the Texas County Master Gardeners for years, referring clients who want to grow their own garden plot and also getting excess produce to distribute, explained Bennie Cook, executive director of the pantry. But that is not the only source of fresh vegetables for the pantry. The Houston public schools’ summer school program includes a gardening element. The students learn how to plant a garden, and then the community continues the care of the garden. This is the fourth year the pantry has received produce from that project. Another great source of produce for the pantry is the South Central Correctional Center in Licking. Called the Restorative Justice Project, the garden is manned by the

Mike banks tends to the food pantry’s garden in osceola. many OFH agencies grow produce for clients or partner with an existing farm.

prisoners, with the food pantry in Houston and the United Community Help Center in Licking receiving produce a couple times a week during harvesting. The food pantry in Osceola began receiving excess produce from Jim Kottwitz’s garden more than a decade ago, but last year pantry supporters tended their own section of Jim’s three-acre garden. The bounty was given to pantry clients. This year, pantry volunteers will be back in the garden and clients will once again reap the harvest. “To me it’s a natural thing,” said Jim, who owns Kottwitz Feed and Farm Supply in

Online presence key in new age of giving With more and more donors choosing to give online, it is becoming even more important that your agency has an online presence — a website, Facebook page, even a Twitter account! That is where people can learn about your agency – what you do, who you serve, how financially responsible you are, and how to donate. So, when potential donors “Google” you, they should be able to learn those facts quickly and easily, which means that you need to be in control of what they find online. Various charity tracking organizations, such as Charity Navigator and Guidestar, will also

use the online information available about you to rank your agency and let donors know they can trust you. If setting up a web page seems too daunting, it may be time to turn to some new volunteers. There are young people, many of them college students, in your community who are comfortable and competent online. They can become volunteers for your organization by helping you establish your online presence. You would not only be getting the benefit of their expertise, but you would be giving them an early opportunity to experience the excitement of giving back to their community through volunteerism. They may even become future donors!

Osceola, where he also sells his produce in addition to supporting pantries in Buffalo and Camden County with his bounty. The pantry hopes to expland the garden and its services this year. “But the real blessing is when we put (the produce) out,” for clients to pick what they want and can use, said Michael Banks, executive director of the Osceola food pantry. “There is very, very little waste.” We know that many different member agencies have access to fresh produce during the growing season. Tell us, how does your garden grow?

LOOKING AHEAD... Summer Food Program training, 10 a.m., May 15 Volunteer Management Workshop, May 21; sign-up on MSU’s website; $35 fee Food Safety class for pantries and feeding sites, Sept. 18

Network News | May 2015  
Network News | May 2015