Network News | October 2020

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NETWORK NEWS An internal newsletter for Ozarks Food Harvest member agencies

October 2020

IN THIS ISSUE Raising up neighbors in need

Discover how Elevate Branson is expanding its mission on pg. 2

Pumpkins: good for more than carving Celebrate fall with seasonal recipes on pg. 3

Director Spotlight: Janet Mills

Read about Janet’s experience at the Cassville Food Pantry on pg. 4

Agency Spotlight: Nevada Community Outreach

Hear from the agency on how it supports the community on pg. 4


OCT. 2020

Elevate Branson is looking forward to its new tiny house development.

RAISING UP NEIGHBORS IN NEED Jamie, a member of the Elevate Work program, heads to class on Monday and Wednesday nights, learns valuable job skills and receives a hot dinner. On Tuesday, his daughter, Katie, attends the after-school reading program and eats dinner there with her friends. Jamie receives a hand-delivered sack lunch from Elevate Branson on Thursday. And on Sunday, he stops by for an optional church service and eats a hot breakfast. This is a week in the life of someone who receives assistance from Elevate Branson. In 2008, Bryan and Amy Stallings cofounded the organization with a Thanksgiving dinner for people in need in their community. The nonprofit has since grown in many ways, now offering Elevate Work—a job-training program— and Community Connections—a network for area resources in Springfield and Branson. The organization also offers Elevate Health—a program with mental health and telemedicine resources—and Elevate Kids—a reading program with a sensory room.

since everything we do is targeted to move our neighbors forward by elevating them, Elevate Branson seemed to be the right name.” In 2009, as the organization grew, Elevate Branson began working with The Food Bank. “The food insecurity need continued to increase for our neighbors, and by partnering with Ozarks Food Harvest, we were able to reduce our costs and serve more people,” Bryan said. The nonprofit serves 500 sack lunches each week to people living in motels, as well as serving meals during each of its programs. “The food is such a critical piece of what we do,” Bryan shared. “It is really the tool that allows us to begin to build trust so that we can then move our neighbors into their next steps.”

“Our vision is for every individual to know hope, dignity and purpose through the love of Jesus,” Bryan shared.

Looking forward, Elevate Branson is excited for another expansion in its outreach.

At its founding, the organization was called Jesus Was Homeless, and it served sack lunches to people in need once a week. Now, the charitable group goes by Elevate Branson.

“In 2021, we will be launching our 48-unit master-planned tiny house development to our low-income neighbors to move them from the motels,” Bryan said.

“We have moved to a broader holistic approach for the entire community – physically, relationally and spiritually,” Bryan explained. “We needed a name that shared that message, and

We are very grateful for our partnership with Elevate Branson and look forward to all of the ways the organization is growing! pg. 2


OCT. 2020

GRANT OPPORTUNITY: CALL FOR PROPOSALS The Ozarks Headwaters Recycling and Materials Management District (OHRD) is accepting applications for the 2021 Solid Waste Reduction Grant for Missouri’s Waste District O. Applicants from Christian, Dallas, Greene, Polk and Webster counties are eligible for this opportunity. In past years, member agencies have received funding for coolers, freezers and vehicles to help increase food distribution and storage options and therefore reduce waste. Applications are due Friday, Dec. 11, 2020. Interested parties must contact OHRD Planner, Angie Snyder, by Nov. 20, 2020 in order to apply. Funding requests may not exceed $48,000. For instructions and more information, please visit

There are many ways to enjoy pumpkins this season.

PUMPKINS: GOOD FOR MORE THAN CARVING As the summer comes to a close, and our favorite warm season veggies are less available, fall has a new bounty to offer: pumpkins!

USDA/TEFAP REMINDER The COVID-19 waivers put in to place by USDA are still ongoing. The waivers include signing on behalf of the client and automatic qualification for clients who are currently unemployed. The state of Missouri will continue to encourage the use of the signature waiver until the CDC advises otherwise.

People have been feasting on fresh pumpkins for centuries, oftentimes relying on them to provide substantial nutrition when other foods were scarce. Pumpkins come in so many shapes and sizes, and many of them are great to eat. While the small sugar pie pumpkins are the most common for eating, the large ones, lumpy ones, and weird-colored ones are good for cooking, too. Cooking a pumpkin can be as simple as cutting it in half, scooping out the seeds (save those for roasting) and baking (in a small amount of water) at 350 degrees. Baking can take 30 minutes for a miniature pumpkin, or up to two hours for a large pumpkin. Once the flesh can be easily pierced with a fork, remove it from the oven and allow it to cool before scooping the flesh out to make into a puree. The puree can be used to make seasonal favorites (pumpkin pie, anyone?). It’s also delicious when prepared mashed potato-style with a little butter and maple syrup or brown sugar. You can even get creative and add the puree to pancakes, breads, and soups. Freezing the puree is a great way to save it as an ingredient for later uses. To use the seeds, place the “guts” into a colander and run warm water while sloshing them around. Once they are clean, boil them with 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt for ten minutes. Then, dry them and coat with oil and seasonings of choice. Roast the seeds at 325 degrees for 15-20 minutes. With only 50 calories per cup, pumpkin is packed with nutrients like beta carotene (vitamin A) that are shown to help ward off chronic illnesses such as heart disease. It is also very high in fiber, with no fat or cholesterol. Now that you know how healthy and versatile these fruits really are, we encourage you to try something new with a fresh pumpkin this fall.

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OCT. 2020 Q & A CORNER

JANET MILLS Cassville Food Pantry How long have you been director at the Cassville Food Pantry? I have been serving as the director and running the food pantry for 18 years.

Nevada Community Outreach helps out the community.

What’s the most rewarding part of your job? I feel the most productive when I am connecting the puzzle pieces that bring together an effective service-oriented outreach project.


NEVADA COMMUNITY OUTREACH A giving spirit and a tight-knit community

What about the most challenging? Management includes adjusting to such things as increased needs for services, and aligning the need with a means to increase capacity to store and deliver product.

In 1984, compassionate people in Nevada, Missouri, wanted to feed their neighbors who were experiencing hunger. Over time, these individuals noticed other needs—like a lack of employment and educational opportunities—in their community. With goals of feeding and supporting their local neighbors, these generous people created Nevada Community Outreach.

members who dedicate themselves to making our community a better place by serving others in whatever way is needed,” Sarah expressed. “We would not be able to do a fraction of what we do without every single one of our faithful volunteers.”

Today, the organization serves hundreds of families and provides thousands of meals each month. According to Sarah Riley, the assistant director at Nevada Community Outreach, the group has a food pantry and a soup kitchen, and it offers school supplies and holiday food baskets. The nonprofit also has emergency food offerings and a small emergency shelter.

“I think my favorite moments have been when someone has a victory in their lives, and they come to share it with us and I see the excitement in their face,” Sarah shared. “It is the relationships that we build here that are precious.”

What’s your most memorable moment at the pantry? In September 2020, the pantry operation moved out of the church into a very large industrial warehouse space. In our former space at the church, we were not able to safely social distance among our volunteer or client interactions. The timing for seeking an alternative facility seemed to be perfect as we connected with a rare vacancy matching our criteria nearby.

Going forward, the nonprofit hopes to remain a reliable support for its neighbors.

What do you like to do in your spare time? I live on a small farm and enjoy gardening and spending time outside.

“Our future looks like a continuation of service to our community,” Sarah added. “We are dedicated to continuing current services, growing as needed, and adapting to whatever the local needs are to help as many people as possible.”

Who would you like to swap places with for a day and why? I would like to experience what it feels to walk in the shoes of the pantry clientele. I could use more insight in how to effectively care for my neighbors.

The Food Bank partners with Nevada Community Outreach to supply food for the organization’s many programs. Nevada Community Outreach is run by Barbara Long, the director, as well as Sarah and a team of nearly 90 volunteers. Sarah is glad to have a community-focused group of volunteers to keep the pantry running. “Our volunteers are, each one, very dear to us because they are community Welcome to


Sarah has seen the way the organization has made a difference in so many lives.

Ozarks Food Harvest greatly appreciates Nevada Community Outreach’s partnership. We are glad to be a part of the work the agency does in Nevada. To learn more about the organization’s many services and how to get involved, visit its Facebook page. Welcome to

CASSVILLE O’Reilly Center For Hunger Relief

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OCT. 2020

GOOD NEWS AT THE FOOD BANK Hunger Action Month helps provide food and funds in the Ozarks. Thank you so much for helping make this year’s Hunger Action Month a success! In September, businesses and community members joined Ozarks Food Harvest to support child hunger relief. Many participated in our online events and a variety of businesses throughout the community supported The Food Bank through fundraisers. People in the community wore orange—the color of hunger awareness—on Go Orange Day and throughout the month. This year’s proceeds benefitted the Weekend Backpack Program to help provide weekend meals for local children. Special thanks to all of our partners that made a difference. Together, we can end hunger in the Ozarks. McDonald’s and Tyson Foods donate 67,000 pounds of food. Ozarks Food Harvest received a 67,000-pound donation of protein and vegetables from McDonald’s and Tyson Foods, Inc. to help families facing hunger during the COVID-19 pandemic. McDonald’s donated more than 21,000 pounds of chicken tenders and 6,000 pounds of its southwest vegetable blend, while Tyson Foods, Inc. donated 40,000 pounds of chicken breast filets. The donation will help provide more than 55,000 meals. Since 2008, McDonald’s has hosted multiple fundraisers to help provide more than 276,000 meals and Tyson has donated more than 486,000 pounds of chicken. We’re so thankful for this gift and our continued partnership with these businesses.

SNAP supports families encountering extra hardships this year.

SNAP SUPPORTS FAMILIES AND ECONOMY DURING COVID-19 Since March, the state of Missouri has distributed more than $787 million worth of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP or food stamp) benefits to folks in Missouri struggling with hunger. That has provided more than $1.2 billion in economic stimulus across the entire state. That means the entire food supply chain received funding during the pandemic as well as folks in need. The additional economic benefit of the SNAP Program is crucial as it allows grocery stores to stay open in rural areas as well as ensure that grocery store shelves remain full. Although the economic benefits are vital, the primary benefit of the SNAP program is it takes pressure off Ozarks Food Harvest and our network of agencies by supplying funds for food to those who need it most during an economic downturn. According to the Department of Social Services 60-month SNAP case trend chart, the amount of households on SNAP had been steadily decreasing until COVID-19 due to economic improvements. The pandemic has shown how the SNAP program provides flexibility by having fewer families on the program as the economy improves and increasing access to support during an economic downturn. If interested, please have the folks you serve call our SNAP hotline at 417-429-0853 or email at to find out how to sign up for SNAP.

DID YOU KNOW? Ozarks Food Harvest distributes thousands of meals through Mobile Food Pantries across southwest Missouri each week. The donation from McDonald’s and Tyson helps during the coronavirus pandemic.

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TEFAP CORNER Updates to USDA product We are expected to see lighter to more normal amounts of USDA in the new year. USDA has been heavy in 2020, due to the Trade Mitigation Program ending in December. Product has to be liquidated! As most of you know, the Trade Mitigation Program was created to assist farmers suffering from damage due to unjustified trade retaliation by foreign nations. TEFAP food orders continue to change based on USDA’s ability to execute contracts with vendors. Some shipments may be delayed and/or rescheduled, based on product availability. Please be prepared that delayed food items from previous months will more than likely show up with your November and December orders.

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. pg. 6

Mary Zumwalt, Director of Programs & Member Services Terra Baum, Agency Capacity Manager Jordan Browning, Public Information Officer 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