Affiliates, Food Programs Partner to Raise $125,000 for Hunger Challenge

CFO affiliates and their local food programs completed the Ozarks Million Dollar Hunger Challenge II this fall by raising $125,000 to match an equivalent challenge grant from the Walmart State Giving Foundation to Ozarks Food Harvest.

In all, 23 of the CFO’s 44 affiliates participated in the Hunger Challenge, which leverages the total of $250,000 at a 10:1 ratio of buying, transporting and distributing food through the OFH network of feeding programs and pantries.

The Walmart State Giving Foundation awarded a $125,000 grant to Ozarks Food Harvest for a second challenge opportunity earlier this year after last year’s success with a $100,000 grant for the original Ozarks Million Dollar Hunger Challenge.

In this year’s Ozarks Million Dollar Hunger Challenge II, 25 food programs across the region worked with the 23 CFO affiliates to raise matching funds by the end of September.

Grant presentations, shown in the gallery below, have been made with affiliate and food program leaders in a number of the communities over the past month. The participating affiliates were: Aurora, Bolivar, Cassville, DACO, Dallas, Dent, El Dorado Springs, Finley River, Houston, Jacks Fork, Lockwood, Marshfield, Monett, Mount Vernon, Mountain Grove, Neosho, Nixa, Oregon County, Seymour, Stockton, Southwest Missouri, Taney County and West Plains.

“We appreciate the cooperative spirit between our affiliate foundations and their local food pantries to jointly tackle this matching grant opportunity,” CFO President Brian Fogle said.

This program began in response to a national report  – “Hunger in America 2010” – describing the extent to which hunger plagues Ozarks communities. An estimated 155,000 Ozarkers face chronic hunger issues, according to the report.

“We are grateful for the funding from the Walmart State Giving Program which allows us to leverage hunger relief support to our local Ozarks communities,” said Bart Brown, CEO at Ozarks Food Harvest.

“There’s a growing population of clients who are not eligible for government assistance such as WIC or the National School Lunch Program. This ‘gap’ truly relies on our member pantries and feeding sites to help feed their families,” Brown said. “The current child food insecurity rate is sobering. More than a quarter of our children — five percent higher than the national rate — now face hunger, or do not know where their next meal is coming from.”

Ozarks Food Harvest is the Feeding America food bank for southwest Missouri, serving more than 300 hunger relief organizations across 28 Ozarks counties in addition to long-term relief sites in Joplin. The Food Bank reaches 20,000 individuals weekly and distributes one million pounds of food monthly. OFH was named the 2011 Small Business of the Year by the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce. Learn more at ozarksfoodharvest.org and at facebook.com/ozarksfoodharvest.

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