Food insecurity

Growing up in southern Indiana, Karen Pepmeier and her friends would comb the farm fields during harvest season, gathering leftover ears of corn to raise money for their youth group.

“You hate to see it lay in the field and rot,” Pepmeier said. “If you grow up in one of these areas, you're very familiar with the waste that occurs there.”

More than half a million people are out of work in Kansas and Missouri, creating unprecedented demand on food banks.

Now some safety net organizations that feed the hungry are sounding an alarm: the worst is yet to come.

“Let me just lay it out for you in terms of timeline,” said Scott Baker, the executive director of Feeding Missouri, a coalition of the state’s six largest food banks. “As we sit here today, we have seen a significant increase in demand, but we also have inventory that’s available right now to meet the demand.

Tiffanie White is still able to feed her three kids, but buying groceries isn’t easy right now. She lost her customer service job because of the pandemic, and she hasn’t been able to get through to unemployment to file a claim.

So when she goes to the grocery store once a week – wearing a mask, without her kids – she’s only buying what they absolutely need.

The Missouri Department of Social Services will be able to use United States Department of Agriculture food to help those impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

DSS was given approval by the federal agency to use USDA foods to operate Disaster Household Distribution.  Missourians in need will be able to get a food package from mobile and drive-by locations through May 7.

The food will be distributed through six Missouri food banks, including Ozarks Food Harvest at more than 200 distribution sites.

Ozarks Food Harvest is preparing for an increased demand for food as mandates to control the coronavirus continue.   The food bank is purchasing additional food to help those impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

Area restaurants and bars in Greene County are closed to dine in customers for a few weeks.  And, while some of them are still offering pickup service, employees are facing decreased hours or unemployment.  Other area businesses are closed temporarily due to concerns about the virus, including Battlefield Mall.