Food Harvest serves 261,300

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Numbers increase by more than 100,000 since 2010

According to the 2014 Hunger in America study, Springfield-based Ozarks Food Harvest -- which covers Barry County along with 27 other counties in southwest Missouri -- serves 261,300 unduplicated individuals annually, an increase of 106,300 over the previous study in 2010.

The numbers increased because there were more people in need, and there were some discrepancies with the 2010 data, said Lindsey Neddenriep, public relations manager for Ozarks Food Harvest.

"At the time, Hunger in America didn't interview [non-emergency programs], like senior meal programs," Neddenriep said. "Hunger in America 2014 was the first time that non-emergency programs were visited."

Ozarks Food Harvest tabulated numbers after the 2010 study results were released, and it came up with 172,000 unduplicated individuals, she said. The 2014 study indicated 1-in-5 people (or an estimated 1,190,600 Missourians) relied on food pantries and meal service programs each year.

"Some of the results were kind of interesting because this study showed some coping mechanisms that clients

admitted to doing to kind of deal with their hunger, whether it's eating unhealthier food items because they can get it cheaper or visiting a food pantry more often," Neddenriep said.

According to the 2014 study, 83 percent of clients with Ozarks Food Harvest had annual household incomes of less than $20,000, 67 percent of client households had incomes that fall at or below the federal poverty level, and 67 percent of households were forced to choose between paying for food and utilities in the past year.

For the 2014 study, Ozarks Food Harvest had volunteers administer the surveys at its agencies, Neddenriep said. The various clients, who were identified by a number, completed the survey on a tablet. Ozarks Food Harvest serves at least 200 non-profits in southwest Missouri. They include pantries, soup kitchens, shelters and senior centers.

In Barry County, the Ozarks Food Harvest serves the Cassville Community Food Pantry at the Cassville United Methodist Church, Helping Hands Community Food Pantry in Eagle Rock, Rock Springs Baptist Church in Seligman, and Central Community United Methodist Church in Shell Knob.

It also serves the Cassville Senior Center, the Monett Senior Center and the Shell Knob Senior Center, which are part of the Southwest Missouri Office on Aging.

In fiscal year 2014 (July 1, 2013, to June 30), Ozarks Food Harvest provided 453,293 meals to Barry County, which had the equivalent in value to $902,054, Neddenriep said. The numbers increased by 51,126 meals, or $100,937, from fiscal year 2013.

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