Holding a copy of the check presented to the Texas County Food Pantry for the purchase of a new cooler are, from left, Ozarks Food Harvest CEO Bart Brown, Food Pantry Director Bennie Cook, and Missouri Foundation for Health Program Director Matt Kulenbeck.

Springfield’s Ozarks Food Harvest (OFH) awarded $250,000 to nearly 50 food pantries and hunger relief programs June 18 at a press conference at the O’Reilly Center for Hunger Relief.

The infrastructure grants – ranging in value from $1,300 to $10,000 – went toward the purchase of industrial-sized freezers, coolers, shelving and other supplies to help expand the capacity of Missouri’s emergency food system.

Two OFH partner agencies in Texas County (both based in Houston) received grant awards. The Texas County Food Pantry received a cooler valued at $10,000, while the Southwest Missouri Office on Aging got a freezer worth $4,700

“Strengthening our 250 partner agencies to serve more hungry Missouri families is part of our three-year strategic plan, and doing so means Ozarks Food Harvest will grant more than $200,000 in funding annually to our food pantries and programs,” said OFH President and CEO Bart Brown. “These infrastructure grants will help improve pantries and feeding sites across the Ozarks so that they can store and distribute more fresh produce and perishable product.”

Food Pantry director Bennie Cook said OFH doles out the grant funds after assessing needs of its partner organizations. The new cooler replaces an old unit that was about the same size, but has seen better days.

“It’s pretty awesome,” Cook said. “It’s great for us because the one we have has been having some issues. This is really a blessing for us.”

Cook expects the new cooler to be delivered within a month.

OFH’S infrastructure awards were part of a $1 million gift received earlier this year from the Missouri Foundation for Health – one of the largest healthcare foundations in the country based in St. Louis. OFH was the first of six food banks in Missouri to previously grant awards to its partner nonprofits (in addition to providing food, training and other services) and has been recognized nationally for being a food bank that provides funding to its partners.

More than 75 pantries and feeding sites requested funding totaling nearly $560,000 – more than twice the grant funds available.

The original gift from the Missouri Foundation for Health was awarded to OFH to help expand the capacity of Missouri’s emergency food system.

To view a complete list by county of nonprofits that received infrastructure grants from Ozarks Food Harvest, log onto ozarksfoodharvest.org. For general information about the organization log onto the website or call 417-865-3411.

For information about the Texas County Food Pantry, call 417-967-4484.

Leave a comment

Leave a Reply Cancel reply