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Ozarks Food Harvest Gets $1 Million to Improve Food Access for those in Need

Cabbage and Broccoli

Ozarks Food Harvest will receive $1 million over the next two years from the Missouri Foundation for Health.  It’s part of the Foundation’s $4 million Emergency Food Access Project.

The goal of the project is to increase food distribution to as many underserved Missourians as possible while enhancing access to nutritious and fresh food options.

According to Bart Brown, president and CEO of Ozarks Food Harvest, the grant is designed to address permanent infrastructure needs of an agency.  He says the money is to be used to remove the barriers that hunger relief agencies face when trying to serve more people or provide healthier products…

"So, this grant opportunity is specifically for things like purchasing coolers or freezers for our member agencies to help them accept and distribute more perishable product or for equipment to help them move more product more quickly to their clients, so it really is focused on some hard costs that our agencies don't get an opportunity to get very often," he said.

Brown says a quarter of the $1 million grant will be dedicated to infrastructure needs of Ozarks Food Harvest’s member agencies in Southwest Missouri.  Agencies will be able to apply for grants to meet specific equipment needs.

The rest of the money will be used for infrastructure needs at Ozarks Food Harvest including another delivery truck and more shelving, storage and equipment at the warehouse.

Brown says the grant is the largest of its kind the food bank has ever received.  He says hunger isn’t going away in the Ozarks, and the money will help Ozarks Food Harvest and its member agencies reach more people in need…

"It means that people are gonna have more of a permanent way to access fresh, healthy food rather than a one-stop temporary fix, so rather than a one time infusion of, say, fresh produce into our area, this is giving helpers the equipment and infrastructure they need to continue helping for years out to come," he said.

The grant awarded to Ozarks Food Harvest by the Missouri Foundation for Health is part of a larger $4 million donation to four food banks located in the MFH service area—other food banks receiving money include St. Louis Area Food Bank in St. Louis, Southeast Missouri Food Bank in Sikeston and the Food Bank for Central and Northeast Missouri in Columbia.