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As the country continues to climb out of what some are calling The Great Recession, many families continue to fall through the cracks. With the help of the Walmart State Giving Foundation, a few local organizations are partnering up to combat hunger in the southwest Missouri region. KSMU’s Justin Lux has more.
On Thursday morning, Ozarks Food Harvest announced that, along with the Community Foundation of the Ozarks, it will be teaming up with the Walmart State Giving Foundation for the 2nd annual Ozarks Million Dollar Hunger Challenge.The announcement comes on the heels of a Feeding America study that shows over 16% of the Ozarks Food Harvest’s 28 county service area is food insecure, meaning they do not know where their next meal will be coming from. Bart Brown is the President and CEO of Ozarks Food Harvest.“It is a great day because it’s one of the rare times where we can actually present a problem and present a solution,” Brown says.Of the 177,000 individuals in the Ozarks Food Harvest service area in need of help, Brown says nearly one fourth of those people are not eligible for federal assistance programs such as food stamps.“Primarily these are people who have lost their jobs due to the recession and they’re facing long-term unemployment due to the sluggish economic recovery. So while these people may have houses and cars and technically they’re not living in poverty, they don’t have any income coming in,” he says.As Community Foundation of the Ozarks does its part to combat the issue, foundation president Brian Fogle says it’s important for the public to continue to step forward.“In an era where there is dwindling federal and state resources, local philanthropy is the only way to fill that gap and I think here in the Ozarks we’ve always done a great job of neighbors helping neighbors and raising local resources for local problems,” Fogle says. The Walmart Foundation will provide Ozarks Food Harvest with a $125,000 challenge grant that will then be matched by OFH’s food pantries with the help of the Community Foundation of the Ozarks and its affiliates throughout southwest Missouri. The $125,000 grant will essentially be turned into more than $1 million worth of food due to the fact that for every one dollar donated to OHF, the agency is able to provide $10 worth of food distribution.For KSMU News, I’m Justin Lux.