Network News | January 2020

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Network News An internal newsletter for Ozarks Food Harvest member agencies

January 2020

In This issue A look back at 2019

A review of last year’s accomplishments on pg. 2

Preparing your agency for the 2020 growing season Make the most of your garden this spring on pg. 3

Director Spotlight: Danita Ehlers

Learn about Danita and her work at Church of Christ Food Pantry on pg. 4

Agency Spotlight: Ozarks Area Community Action Corporation

See how OACAC provides resources and hope in Dade County on pg. 4

Network News

jan. 2020

We’re looking forward to fighting hunger with you this year.

A look back at 2019 So much happened at Ozarks Food Harvest in 2019! We added 16 new agencies to our network, including five pantries, two Weekend Backpack Program schools, two garden programs, two after-school programs and five feeding sites. In 2019, The Food Bank secured grants for 21 agencies, totaling $25,634! These grants ranged from equipment grants to food safety fees. It’s been a busy year with the USDA/TEFAP Program, too. USDA agencies received a large amount of USDA product as well as produce through the Trade Mitigation Program. TMP was established as a temporary program to offset the impact of the trade tariffs to farmers. Through this program alone, we distributed 205 food items in 2019. Don’t expect it to go away anytime soon! We are anticipating the distribution of additional TMP products to continue for the next 12 to 18 months. Thank you, USDA! In September, we held CSFP meetings at The Food Bank, and the good news was shared that Missouri food banks rank are ranked first in the region for distributing 99 percent of the boxes allocated! The SNAP program had a huge impact in our service area last year. Ozarks Food Harvest assisted 932 families with submitting their SNAP application to the state of Missouri, which generated more than $2.8 million worth of SNAP benefits for families to spend on food. These SNAP dollars generated more than $4.8 million in economic stimulus for southwest Missouri communities. Overall, these dollars provided more than one million meals to children, families and seniors across our network. Last year, we welcomed three new members to the Member Services team. Rebecca Moore is working with the Weekend Backpack Program, Natalie Regenold is our new SNAP coordinator and Heather Haloupek is working with our AfterSchool Food and Summer Food programs.

We’re so thankful for how you served the community in 2019, and we’re looking forward to what 2020 has to bring. As mentioned in a previous edition of Network News, a new Hunger Study is just around the corner. Feeding Missouri, along with the University of Missouri, will be conducting agency and client surveys later in the year. In addition, a food program survey will be coming soon. This information will help The Food Bank in its efforts to secure grants on behalf of our members. The survey will be sent via an email and is open to any staff/volunteer at your agency, so please forward, if necessary. Our goal is 100 percent participation! We have scheduled mandatory meetings for TEFAP/USDA, which will be held Thursday, March 5 from 10 to noon and Monday, March 23 from 1-3 pm. Any agency that distributes or receives USDA food to prepare meals must attend one of the session. Trainings will be held at The Food Bank. Here are the links to sign up: • Thursday March 5, 10- noon • Monday March 23, 1-3 pm We are looking to hold our annual conference in October. This is event is in the early stages of planning, but hope to secure a date soon! Finally, Mandatory meetings for CSFP will be held again at The Food Bank in September. Date is still TBD. We hope your 2020 has been off to a wonderful start, and we’re looking forward to making an even bigger impact with you this year. Thank you for your commitment to the fight against hunger! pg. 2

Network News

jan. 2020

Preparing your Agency for the 2020 Growing Season The days are finally getting longer, and the seed catalogs are starting to arrive. Your agency can prepare for spring by stocking up on the supplies needed to make 2020 the best year yet for fresh fruits and vegetables! The Food Bank can provide a variety of seeds and planting booklets for you to offer to your clients for the upcoming growing season. Your agency might also consider hosting a garden education class for clients. Most people just need a refresher on how to turn seeds into plants and how to care for those plants so they can turn into the foods we love. You could even reach out to your local Master Gardeners, community gardens or local MU Extension agents for mentorship. As you think about how to increase healthy, fresh produce options at your agency, contact our Full Circle Gardens coordinator to talk about your ideas and needs: Alexa Poindexter, apoindexter@ or call (417) 8340674.

Repacking sessions will begin at The Food Bank soon.

The Food Bank will soon begin repacking projects The Food Bank is embarking on a new adventure for 2020! In just a few months, we will begin repacking dry products in our volunteer center. Repacking projects reap benefits for our agency partners and our volunteers. We’ll be able to distribute this repacked food for your agency at a very low cost, and it provides a great opportunity for our volunteers to try something new. It’s important to note that agencies should not be repacking any food items. Ozarks Food Harvest went through a detailed, in-depth process to acquire licenses for repacking. Our processes had to be evaluated and approved by the FDA, USDA, Feeding America and AIB. We will only be repacking dry product at The Food Bank. Items to be sorted might include cereal, beans, rice and pasta. Since food safety is of utmost importance in the repacking process, volunteers will be required to wear gloves, hairnets, beard nets, aprons and other protective gear. The volunteer center—which is an enclosed space—will be completely sanitized before repacking begins. We will be using special, disinfected equipment during each session. Each repacked item will also don a label.

Prepare your garden for a great growing season.

Our team has worked closely with the operations department over the last six months to make this repacking opportunity a reality for our agencies and volunteers. We’re excited to start distributing repacked items to your agencies in the near future!

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Network News

jan. 2020 q & a Corner

Danita Ehlers Church of Christ Food Pantry in El Dorado Springs How long have you been director of the Church of Christ Food Pantry? I have been director for four years but have been helping since we opened the pantry in 2010.

OACAC makes a difference in Dade County.

agency spotlight

ozarks area community action corporation OACAC provides resources and hope in Dade County In 1965, community members banded together to create the Ozarks Area Community Action Corporation (OACAC). The organization was designed to alleviate poverty in southwest Missouri. OACAC currently serves 10 counties. Betty Reno, Dade County Neighborhood center supervisor, makes sure families dealing with poverty have the resources and outreach services they need to get through difficult times. “We work hard to help those in our county and community by providing resources and connections as well as helping them become self-sufficient while assisting with immediate needs when we can,” she shared. Some of the services Dade County Neighborhood Center provides include life skills classes, emergency assistance, and emergency food and shelter. The center serves between 560 and 712 families per month. Once a month, Ozarks Food Harvest works with OACAC Dade County by providing a Mobile Food Pantry, which serves nearly 400 individuals in need. Food is delivered and distributed at Main Street Baptist Church in Greenfield. “We also work with Ozarks Food Welcome to


Harvest to provide commodities, as well as extra food purchased for our Emergency Food Bank. We offer commodities once per month, and we serve an average of 274 individuals,” said Betty. OACAC provides food and resources for people of all ages. Half of people served are between 19 and 59, while the other half are children and seniors. Many people served live on a fixed income or have a disability. Volunteers help OACAC run and serve as many people as possible each month. “Oftentimes our clients are also our volunteers or become volunteers. It is heartwarming to see people wanting to give back and doing so,” said Betty. Betty is excited about OACAC’s future as the organization continues to make a difference for families in need. “I am learning more every day about how to make things work better. I am making connections with other agencies in order to provide more resources for our clients,” she expressed.

What part of the job do you personally find most rewarding? The most rewarding part for me is knowing that some of our clients really do need the help and when they express that gratefulness, it makes it worthwhile. Most challenging? The most challenging thing for me is giving food to those that I know are taking advantage of the pantry and still show them respect and love. One other challenging part is finding the volunteers that are willing to give up some of their time to help. What is your most memorable moment at the center? One of the most memorable times is when we had the Ozarks Food Harvest truck come in with 20 pallets of food and we set the pallets in a U shape. We distributed all that food in a couple hours with more than 20 volunteers. What do you like to do in your spare time? I like to quilt and I also do some woodworking. Who would you most like to swap places with for a day and why? Superman. Just to see what it would be like to be almost invincible.

We are so grateful for OACAC Dade County and all the good work the organization is doing for families living in poverty! Welcome to


O’Reilly Center For Hunger Relief

pg. 4

pg. 4

Network News

Jan. 2020

good news at the food bank McDonald’s Dining to Give Back helps provide more than 32,000 meals. McDonald’s restaurants across the Ozarks generously donated 20 percent of proceeds on Dec. 4 between 4 and 7 p.m. The event raised $8,080 for hunger relief. A total of 19 stores participated across Springfield, Strafford, Nixa, Republic, Ozark, Mount Vernon and Willard. From 2008 to 2017, McDonald’s of the Ozarks hosted the fundraiser Cans for Coffee which collected more than 215,000 meals for food-insecure individuals in the Ozarks. And in 2018, McDonald’s locations hosted Coffee for a Cause, which helped provide 38,400 meals. The Food Bank is so very thankful for the McDonald’s owner/ operators who made this partnership possible once again this year. Thanksgiving Day Turkey Trot donations provide 16,484 meals. This year, we were reminded of the wonderful generosity of our community during the 25th Annual Turkey Trot! Since 2001, the widely-attended Thanksgiving Day race has collected more than 145,000 meals for The Food Bank. We are incredibly grateful to everyone who donated and the amazing volunteers who gave their time and support for the event. Special thanks to the Developmental Center of the Ozarks and the SpringfieldGreene County Park Board for their annual partnership!

SNAP brings hope to families going through tough times.

The Impact of SNAP in 2019 As the year comes to a close, we wanted to show our agencies how big of an impact the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP or food stamps) had in the Ozarks in 2019. Between January and December 2019, Ozarks Food Harvest assisted 932 families with submitting their SNAP applications to the state of Missouri. Because of that, we were able to generate more than $2.8 million worth of SNAP benefits for folks to spend on food. The additional benefit is these SNAP dollars generated more than $4.8 million in economic stimulus for southwest Missouri communities. This means the entire chain of the grocery industry benefitted: from the farmer who sold the food, to the truck driver that delivered the food, and to the grocery worker who put food on shelves. Overall, these dollars provided more than 1 million meals to children, families and seniors across our 28-county service area.

Did you know? 14.8 percent of the population in Ozarks Food Harvest’s service area faces food insecurity? McDonald’s and Tyson help provide meals for The Food Bank.

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tfap corner Mandatory meeting times have been determined for the upcoming TEFAP training. Agencies are encouraged to send at least two representatives from each location, if possible, and may choose from one of the two meetings listed below. To ensure The Food Bank is adequately prepared for each session, please sign up via the links provided below. Training is required of any agency that receives USDA, (pantries and feeding sites) and will be conducted at The Food Bank. Sign up: Thursday March 5, 10- 12 p.m. Monday March 23, 1-3 p.m.

contact us Ozarks Food Harvest Member Services 2810 N. Cedarbrook Ave. Springfield Mo., 65803 417.380.5007

Thank you for helping us Transform Hunger into Hope.

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the member services team Mary Zumwalt, Director of Programs & Member Services Terra Baum, Agency Capacity Manager Jordan Browning, Comm. Partnerships & Advocacy Coordinator Casey Gunn, Retail Compliance Specialist Heather Haloupek, Child Nutrition Programs Coordinator Kimberly Hansen, CSFP/Senior Box Coordinator Rebecca Moore, Backpack Program Coordinator Natalie Regenold, SNAP Coordinator Jane Terry, Creative Information Specialist Melanie Toler, Member Services Assistant Shada Travis, Agency Support Specialist

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