Springfield non-profit serves over 260,000 in 2020 and prepares for summer

Putting the Ozarksfirst
Putting Ozarks First

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — We’re hosting a fundraiser for three groups working to relieve hunger in the Ozarks: Convoy of Hope, Crosslines and Ozarks Food Harvest.

Even with COVID-19 causing lots of problems, OFH served more than 260,000 people in the past year.

And there’s a good chance Darnella Mcdowell is part of that list.

Mcdowell receives all kinds of services at Crosslines.

“Oh, I’ve been here a long time. Ever since my kids were young actually,” Mcdowell said.

Her kids are 6, 8 and 10-years-old.

Mcdowell started getting groceries every couple of months from the non-profit when her oldest was born.

“My kids are on disability, and that’s all we get really,” Mcdowell said. “Without them, I’d be in a situation thinking ‘how are you going to feed your kids?’ This has actually helped me a lot.”

Jordan Browning, the Public Information Officer at Ozarks Food Harvest, says in the past year, OFH gave Crosslines more than $2 million worth of food to give out.

“It’s a great example of how non-profits work together to feed people in this area,” Browning said.

Even when times are tough. In 2020, OFH faced an increase in several food categories: demand, pricing and supply chain issues.

“But luckily we were able to have a record-breaking year of distribution,” Browning said.

OFH distributed more than 23 million meals to its 270 agencies despite temporarily shutting down its volunteer program in April of last year.

“So many of our volunteers are seniors so we wanted to make sure to keep them safe,” Browning said.

Since then, around 30 to 45 members of Missouri’s National Guard have helped sort 95,000 pounds of food every week.

They’ve also assisted in OFH’s 120 mobile food pantries.

“More so than in previous years we saw more people needing help for the very first time, or needing temporary help,” Browning said.

61,000 people to be exact.

“It’s been really great that we’ve been able to get in touch with that population that’s been struggling through COVID-19,” Browning said.

At the moment, the non-profit is still seeing a big need for food.

“So we’re still operating as if we’re in a disaster,” Browning said.

And with summer coming up, that won’t change.

“Summer hunger always becomes a very large issue because kids are suddenly home from school and they don’t have those dedicated meals,” Browning said. “So, that’s when we really amp up our programs.

“We’re making sure that our food is there and that people will have access to it through the summer.”

Ozarks Food Harvest is able to feed more than 90,000 people every month through its summer programs.

To contribute to its mission, text “Ozarks” to 243-725.

Browning says OFH can turn a $1 donation into $10 worth of groceries for a family in need.

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