SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — KOLR10 is continuing its courageous conversation, addressing childhood hunger here in the Ozarks.
Crosslines provides support to struggling families in Greene County, serving tens of thousands of people each year.
In 2015, Crosslines served more than 56,000 people. It’s one of the few food pantries in the area that allows families to come in and pick and choose their own foods.
“Food is expensive at times,” said Local Parent Briana Billings.
Billings is just one of many who utilize the Crosslines Food Pantry.
“These places give you healthy food,” said Billings. “And it’s free.”
“January through June, we have seen a five percent increase in the food pantry in the number of people and families coming in,” said Crosslines Director Tom Faulkner. “Where we’ve seen the most increase is our mobile food truck.”
The food truck travels to locations to catch kids out of school for the summer.
“We are having a big response,” Faulkner said. “There are just as many people coming to the truck than there are going to the food pantry. There are 100-130 families that come to that truck in those locations.”
Crosslines is continuing to see the need grow.
“If you have a family in Greene County with a child or children under the age of five, 50 percent of those folks are in poverty in Greene county,” Faulkner said. “So we’ve got a lot of work to do here.”
The Springfield community has been trying to work together to find solutions. The Crosslines Food Pantry has changed some of its own procedures as well.
“When I got here six years ago, we gave a three day supply of food– and families could come three times a year,” said Faulkner. “We’ve increased that to six times a year– plus once a month to get government commodities from us.”
The average family in the Ozarks is food insecure for about a week and a half.
“So we’ve increased the amount of food as well,” Faulkner said. “1.3 million lbs of food was distributed from this pantry– and we are one of many in our community.”
Volunteers at Crosslines see first-hand the hunger issue plaguing our community.
“We had a volunteer– a mom was in with her small child and he was really excited about the food,” said Faulkner. “And the volunteer made a comment and he said, ‘well, it’s not my time to eat’– and when you hear a story like that– where they say you can’t eat this morning or afternoon– maybe tonight– that’s a sad thing for our community to hear something like that.”