The Community Foundation of the Ozarks is again teaming up with Ozarks Food Harvest and the Walmart State Giving Program to tackle the chronic hunger problems that affect our region.
The 2nd Annual Ozarks Million Dollar Hunger Challenge kicked off at a news conference at Ozarks Food Harvest today. The Walmart Foundation State Giving Program pledged a $125,000 grant toward a 1:1 match with regional food pantries served by Ozarks Food Harvest.
The participating food pantries were selected in 27 communities that have CFO affiliate foundations so that those foundations could offer fundraising support, community grantmaking awards or other types of assistance to partner with their local food banks.
“This is a great way to address hunger across one-third of the state of Missouri using a great trio of partners,” OFH President and CEO Bart Brown said.
He also discussed a new analysis of local “food insecurity” levels that support anecdotal information and a 2010 Hunger Study. The analysis shows that many people facing “food insecurity” have income and/or resources that make them ineligible for assistance programs. Many of them are people who have lost jobs, but still have homes or cars that count as assets.
“More and more clients who come to food pantries are the unemployed middle class who need assistance,” Brown said. “Technically, they’re not poor, but they don’t have any money.”
Through Ozarks Food Harvest’s buying program, the $250,000 in potential funds from the challenge grant and matching funds will leverage about $1 million worth, or 2.5 million pounds, of food for the participating pantries, food banks and mobile food banks.
The first Million Dollar Hunger Challenge was completed last year when 19 CFO affiliates raised $105,000, which was matched with $100,000 from the Walmart State Foundation.
CFO President Brian Fogle said this represents another example where charitable dollars are filling the gaps created by decreased public funding at all levels. He said this model works well because it directly serves residents in the communities where the money will be raised.
“That is philanthropy at its best,” Fogle said.
Becky Wood, Walmart’s Senior Foundation Manager from Bentonville, Ark., said the company’s State Giving Councils are comprised of local associates who determine the best use of foundation resources for their states.
“It’s great to be a partner with you in Springfield,” she said.