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Around 80,000 people in southwest Missouri rely on food assistance. In order to meet that overwhelming need, Ozarks Food Harvest relies on volunteers to get the job done within the 28 counties they serve. New projects are now underway and Ozarks Food Harvest is calling for more volunteers to join the mission. KSMU’s Theresa Bettmann has the story.
“Volunteers are the heart of our mission to transform hunger into hope,” says Jennifer Sickenger, volunteer service coordinator for Ozarks Food Harvest. Each day volunteers are found working in Ozarks Food Harvest’s facility helping to move food donations onto the many people and programs served.
“Ozarks Food Harvest is southwest Missouri’s regional food bank which means we’re serving a network of 250 hunger relief partners such as; food pantries, soup kitchens, maybe low income senior or daycare centers. So we’re providing food for those agencies who in turn serve those who are seeking food assistance in the community,” Sickenger says.
Sickenger says they’re always looking for volunteers to help at the facility with sorting, checking expiration dates, inspecting package integrity, and helping move food onto the people that need it. Sickenger adds they need specialized volunteers who are able to work directly with clients on specific projects.
“This particular call-out for volunteer needs is a little outside the ordinary weekday volunteer opportunity. We’re looking for volunteers that are willing to travel across southwest Missouri with our staff to assist at a mobile food pantry distribution. And then we’re also looking for volunteers that can help us with a hunger study,” says Sickenger.
Sickenger says Ozarks Food Harvest partners with Feeding America in a national study about hunger. This survey takes place every four years, and locally focuses on the 28 counties served.
“The hunger study project is slightly different because we’re looking for candidates that are comfortable speaking with a very diverse group of clients. Applicants that are comfortable with confidentiality, and maybe have some experience working with folks one-on-one. So we are asking for a separate application for this project, and they’ll just need to contact me here at the food bank,” says Sickenger.
The hunger study is going on now through the end of August. Click here for more information.
For KSMU News, I’m Theresa Bettmann.