Network News | February 2021

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NETWORK NEWS An internal newsletter for Ozarks Food Harvest member agencies

February 2021

IN THIS ISSUE Adpating through COVID-19 How one agency is continuing to serve through the pandemic on pg. 2

Gardening made easy

Learn how to get started on pg. 3

Director Spotlight: Micah Terrington

Learn about Micah and his work at Community Outreach Ministries on pg. 4

Agency Spotlight: Missourians United to Combat Hunger

See how MUNCH serves the community on pg. 4


FEB. 2021

More families than ever are searching for help in the midst of the pandemic.

ADAPTING THROUGH COVID-19 St. Peter’s Outreach House in Joplin has been serving neighbors facing hunger since 2013. Terri Giarratano, the director of the ministry at St. Peter the Apostle Catholic Church, cooks up to 400 meals with her volunteers three days a week.

The ministry has incurred more expenses since the pandemic began because they have to purchase takeout food containers for each distribution. Those costs add up, but Terri is grateful that Ozarks Food Harvest has temporarily waived the agency fee to help support pantries during this challenging time.

Individuals experiencing homelessness, poverty and unemployment are always welcomed at St. Peter’s with a warm meal and caring smile. Terri and her volunteers make large batches of chili, mashed potatoes, meatloaf and more to share with the community.

“We couldn’t have done this without the fee being waived. It’s truly such a blessing that this food is been given to us completely free of charge,” she shared.

“I love cooking, and I love helping people in the neighborhood. We are here for them when they need something to eat,” Terri shared. In 2020, the feeding site served three times as many people than in 2019. The pantry is currently serving about 3,000 people per month and has moved to a walk-up distribution model. In the past, people could come inside and enjoy a meal around the table together. The walk-up model keeps Terri and her team safe as they cook and serve meals.

Terri often works with a skeleton crew when the feeding site is open, but they’re making it work. Many of the regular volunteers are staying home until they are able to get the COVID-19 vaccine. “The walk-up model has really been the best thing for us since I have such few volunteers right now. We stay very busy, but it’s an efficient way to run things,” she said. We’re thankful for the wonderful work that St. Peter’s Outreach House is doing to help people facing hunger in Joplin. Together, we are changing the landscape of hunger in the Ozarks.

“You get to know them and form relationships with them over time,” Terri said. “You care about their health and how they’re doing. And everyone is so grateful when they get the food.” pg. 2


FEB. 2021

GARDENING MADE EASY The Full Circle Gardens program is quickly preparing for another growing season and we hope to encourage your organization and community to do the same! Last year, many people discovered, or even rediscovered, gardening as a way to spend time outdoors, get exercise, reduce stress and eat healthier with the fresh produce they grew themselves. Gardening can be done on nearly any scale. It can be in planters, in a community garden, in a raised bed, in a straw bale, or in a sunny spot in the lawn after loosening up the soil. It can be 1 tomato plant or 20 tomato plants. It is whatever works for your organization or your clients. Last year, The Food Bank piloted a seed distribution project with community partners and agencies to share Grow Well Missouri’s beginning gardening booklet along with a variety of seed packets. These materials were packed together in bags and sent out as Garden To-Go kits. These kits were a grab and go way for agencies to offer gardening resources to the community when many sites switched to drive-thru distributions. We hope to expand the project this year and are gauging interest in the network. Please complete a very brief survey to express interest at Plan to complete surveys by March 15. The Full Circle Gardens Team will follow-up with interested agencies in the spring.

Mobile Food Pantries provided more than 1 million meals in 2020.

DESTINY CHURCHES PARTNER WITH THE FOOD BANK Ozarks Food Harvest is excited to announce new partnerships with Destiny Churches in both Marshfield and Republic! Both churches will be distributing food at no cost to qualifying families each month through The Emergency Food Assistance, also known as TEFAP/USDA. In both Greene and Webster counties, these new partners will help provide groceries for families facing hunger. We’re excited to partner with these sites that will make it easier for people to access food in Marshfield and southwest Greene County. Heidi Akins, co-director of the Wheel Fed program at Destiny Church in Marshfield, is excited about the opportunity to serve families through the new system. “The church is always looking for ways to give back to the community, and this was just the perfect fit,” she shared. “When we announced the program to our congregation, we were blown away by how many people wanted to volunteer for the distributions. They helped our first distribution run so smoothly and efficiently in January.” Both churches hosted their first food distributions in January. Marshfield served nearly 500 people and Republic served 317.

Gardening can be easy and fun!

We’re looking forward to working with the churches this year to provide more meals for families facing hunger. Thank you to these Destiny Church locations for partnering with us to Transform Hunger into Hope in the Ozarks! For more information about the distributions, please feel free to contact either location at 417-732-5378. pg. 3


FEB. 2021 Q & A CORNER

MICAH TITTERINGTON Community Outreach Ministries How long have you been with Community Outreach Ministries? I came to COM in the summer of 2019, so it has been almost 2 years.

MUNCH supports so many in Willow Springs.


MISSOURIANS UNITED TO COMBAT HUNGER Keeping families fed in Willow Springs MUNCH is so much more than a food pantry to many families in Willow Springs. The organization has been serving the community for more than three decades by providing food, lowcost clothing items and scholarships. MUNCH, which stands for Missourians United to Combat Hunger, is currently open three days a week. Currently, about 35 families stop by to receive food each day. “We were open six days a week before the pandemic hit, but now we do not have enough volunteers to be open that much. We used to serve about 500 families each month,” Rose Marcum, president of MUNCH’s board, said. Rose has been involved with the organization for about 30 years. She’s always enjoyed caring for others and making a difference.

“No matter what, I make sure every family takes home five pounds of potatoes. They are filling and can last people a long time,” Rose said. When the pandemic started, the pantry started delivering food to seniors in the area. Rose wanted to make sure that they were still getting the nutrition they needed when they couldn’t leave the house. “Some of them are so scared to go out right now, so we will keep doing this as long as they need it,” she shared. We’re so thankful for how Rose and the volunteers at MUNCH are Transforming Hunger into Hope in Willow Springs! To learn more about MUNCH, feel free to give them a call at 417-469-3221.

“I really like helping people out—I could write a whole book about it!” she shared.

What led you to this career? I’ve always been passionate about nonprofits and social justice causes. I’ve worked at churches in impoverished communities and at a domestic violence shelter prior to coming to COM. For me, my faith is what motivates me in this work. I feel a strong calling to come alongside those experiencing poverty and hardship and help out in any way I can. Working at an agency like COM allows me to do this every day. What part of your job do you personally find most satisfying? Most challenging? The most satisfying part of my job is when we launch a new program or initiative and it works well and you hear positive feedback from clients. It’s always a bit of a challenge to know exactly what is most helpful to people, so when we try something new and then hear that the change is appreciated by our clients or has made a huge difference in their lives, those moments are very rewarding. The most challenging part of my job is staying on top of the million tasks that need to be done. It can be easy to get pulled in a hundred directions and begin to get stressed out or overwhelmed. Thankfully, I have a great set of staff members and volunteers around me who help in making sure everything gets done for the sake of our mission.

Ozarks Food Harvest delivers food to MUNCH every month. When families stop by to pick up their commodities, they usually receive an assortment of fresh vegetables and fruit, dairy products, frozen meat and several nonperishable goods. Welcome to


Welcome to

BOLIVAR O’Reilly Center For Hunger Relief

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FEB. 2021

GOOD NEWS AT THE FOOD BANK Fall fund and food drive partners help provide 175,000 meals During November and December 2020, 75 partners hosted community fundraisers, raising $40,400 and nearly 16,000 pounds of food, totaling nearly 175,000 meals! We are so thankful for all of the businesses and organizations that contributed to this total to support neighbors in the Ozarks. Special thanks to Associated Electric Cooperative, Inc., FCS Financial, Great Southern Bank, Homes & Griffeth Financial Planners and Ridewell Suspensions. If your business or organization is interested in hosting a fundraiser, please visit ozarksfoodharvest. org/fooddrive to learn more and sign up. Generous fundraising partners are crucial to The Food Bank, and we thank them for their contributions throughout the years. Walmart’s Fight Hunger. Spark Change. campaign raises $126,000. Ozarks Food Harvest received nearly $126,000 from Walmart’s Fight Hunger. Spark Change. 2020 initiative. Throughout the month of April, shoppers supported The Food Bank by making donations through their local Walmart stores. This funding will allow The Food Bank to provide 504,000 meals for families facing hunger across 28 counties. Across the nation, Walmart raised more than $18 million.

SNAP makes a big difference for families facing hunger.

SNAP ENCOURAGES INDIVIDUALS TO WORK One of the reasons the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) encourages work is because it favors earned income (such as a paycheck) over unearned income (such as social security) in its benefit calculation. When calculating how much a household will receive in SNAP benefits, the program disregards 20 percent of earned income to account for how much the household spends on expenses for work, such as transportation or clothing. That same 20 percent deduction doesn’t apply to unearned income such as unemployment or social security. For example, let’s assume we have two identical families that are applying for SNAP. Both have three household members and the same expenses every month, but have different income sources. One family receives $1,732 per month from a job, which allows them to use the earned income deduction and receive an estimated $310 per month in SNAP benefits. The other family receives $1,732 from social security, but with no earned income deduction, they receive an estimated $155 per month in SNAP benefits. We can see from our example that the first family actually receives more benefits, and more total spending power, from working. As individuals earn more income and get closer to financial stability, SNAP benefits will lower incrementally and allow the household to gradually phase out of the program. This gradual phase out is also an incentive for work, which we will discuss in our next article. For more information, please reach out to our SNAP email at

DID YOU KNOW? Nearly 888,000 meals were provided through 150+ fund and food drives in 2020? We’re thankful for Walmart’s partnership!

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Thank you for helping us Transform Hunger into Hope.

Civil Rights Training An email was sent Feb. 2 announcing the start of our annual Civil Rights Training. Members have until February 28, 2021 to complete this training and submit their documentation, so training is done at your own pace. As a reminder, all key staff/ volunteers who have direct contact with clients must complete this training. Food Safety Classes Food Safety classes are now open! At this time, we are limiting our class size to ten, but additional classes will be added later to meet current needs. Scheduled trainings are: Feb, 24, March 24 and March 31. As a reminder, agencies that prepare meals may take the free training with us or through the online course at SpringfieldGreene County Health Department. The Health Department has a small fee. SevSafe certificates are acceptable, as well. To sign up, please visit our website at member-agencies

CONTACT US Ozarks Food Harvest Member Services 2810 N. Cedarbrook Ave. Springfield Mo., 65803 417.380.5007


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Mary Zumwalt, Director of Programs & Member Services Terra Baum, Agency Compliance & Capacity Manager Jordan Browning, Comm. Partnerships & Advocacy Coordinator Casey Gunn, Retail Compliance Specialist Heather Haloupek, Child Nutrition Programs Coordinator Deidra McBride, CSFP/Senior Box Coordinator Natalie Regenold, SNAP Coordinator Jane Terry, Creative Information Specialist Melanie Toler, Member Services Assistant Shada Travis, Agency Support Specialist

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