Ozarks Food Harvest has provided more than $200,000 worth of infrastructure and equipment grants to eight of its partner food pantries — including Texas County Food Pantry in Houston — to assist with COVID-19 relief efforts.
Seven walk-in freezers and one walk-in cooler were provided to several locations, including the Houston site.
In addition to donating the 16-by-11 foot units, the food bank funded the concrete pad pouring, delivery, assembly and electrical installation.
“We know that food insecurity rates are higher in rural communities and will continue to increase during COVID-19,” said Bart Brown, president/CEO of Ozarks Food Harvest. “We’re so grateful to be able to provide assistance to our agencies to ensure storage space isn’t a barrier to serving more folks in their communities.”
Rural areas affected by COVID-19 were targeted for donations as they experienced greater job losses, specifically in manufacturing and tourism, and increased food insecurity. This capacity building investment is part of Ozarks Food Harvest’s long-term strategic plan to optimize food access in rural communities who lack infrastructure and equipment for increased food distribution.
Ozarks Food Harvest, the Feeding America food bank for southwest Missouri, was a recipient of a Feeding America grant that provided funding for the commercial freezers and cooler. The funding also allowed it to hire temporary staff, increase truck routes and purchase additional equipment.
Ozarks Food Harvest is the largest COVID-19 related donor to charities in southwest Missouri. Since April, Ozarks Food Harvest has hosted more than 75 mobile food pantries, purchased an additional $2.2 million worth of food and provided a record-breaking 14 million meals to its network of 270 hunger-relief organizations.