DrThe onors have raised a record amount for iHeartRadio Springfield’s annual Ozarks Food Harvest and Hungerthon, and will benefit students at many of the area’s schools.
The four-day Hungerthon, which it hosted earlier this month, raised a record $260,422 for its weekend Ozarks Food Harvest backpack program, which provides nearly 1,600 children across southwest Missouri with food to take them to home every Friday throughout the school year.
Backpacks typically contain six nutritious, easy-to-open meals for students – two breakfasts, two lunches, and two dinners, plus snacks and drinks. Examples of items often included include chicken salad, pasta, mixed vegetables, corn, pears, oranges, skim white milk, chocolate milk, pastries, hummus, and oatmeal. Toothbrushes, toothpaste, shampoo and soap are also distributed to students in some rural schools.
Officials at Ozarks Food Harvest say one in five children faces hunger in southwest Missouri, especially on weekends when school meals are not available. The Springfield-based organization is the Feeding America Food Bank, which serves 270 hunger relief organizations in 28 counties.
“We are very grateful to have partnered with iHeartRadio again this year to raise funds for our Weekend Backpacking program,” Bart Brown, President and CEO of Ozarks Food Harvest, said in a statement. “It is a blessing to live in a society that generously provides for children who face hunger.”
Feeding America, a national network of food banks, has designated September as Action Against Hunger Month, and Friday as Anti Hunger Day. The organization encourages Americans to support its initiatives to end hunger in the country by donating or volunteering at area food stores, advocating for hunger relief programs and raising awareness of hunger in communities.
“Many people may not give much thought to eating a daily meal. For people facing hunger, a daily meal is not that simple,” said Claire Papineau-Fontino, CEO of Feeding America, in a statement marking Hunger Month. , it becomes a different kind of choice — an impossible decision between food or other basic needs, such as electricity, childcare, or medication. No one should be forced to choose hunger. With the support of the public, we can come together to help increase food access for all people, so that they no longer have to make such difficult decisions.”
meet basic needs
District schools that participate in the Ozarks Food Harvest Weekend Backpacking Program include Irving Elementary School in Joplin as well as a few individual schools in Carthage, Bruno, Monet, Mount Vernon and Southwest in Washburn Counties.
Chancellor Michelle Voorhees said 36 students in Irving are served by the Ozarks Food Harvest backpacker program this weekend. They are selected to participate based on their families’ eligibility for free or reduced-price lunches, she said, as well as other criteria as identified by a survey on food insecurity.
“It’s been amazing over the years,” she said of the show. “I really appreciate it because if kids don’t get those basic needs of shelter and food, we can’t help them meet their higher needs, like educating them and helping them fulfill their potential.”
The remaining food-insecure students in Irving and across the Joplin school district who need assistance with weekend meals are served by a similar program offered by Bright Futures Joplin.
Since 1999, Hungerthon has raised $2.6 million to provide nearly 1.8 million meals to children throughout southwest Missouri.
Backpacks were matched during this year’s fundraiser by individuals, businesses and organizations including A-1 Guarantee Roofing, Animal Health Center Hospital and Clinic, AECI, CoxHealth, Cronkhite Homes, Harter House, and Heart of America Beverage Co. . , McDonald’s, Positronic Industries, Ross Construction, Ron and Janice Penny, Keith and Sandra Stover, SRC’s Community Relations Committee and Jehovah’s Place in Cedarville. Several local businesses, including Air Services All Services, Hy-Vee and Wonders of Wildlife, also acted as sponsors for the event.
“It’s always a great honor to work with Ozarks Food Harvest to help feed the hungry children in our community,” Clint “Girley” Gerlick, vice president of programming at iHeartRadio and Hungerthon, said in a statement. “Thank you to everyone who made a donation and helped ensure 723 children had meals over the weekend for an entire school year.”
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