Boxes and cans are stacked high at the Webster County Pantry, waiting for individuals who need a helping hand. The organization continues to see an increase in the number of people requesting assistance.
“It’s not the old stereotype that people used to think about (that didn’t want to work),” stated director Gerald Nehhl. “I’d say the majority of people are working people just struggling to get by.”
The organization just moved into a brand new building so it could keep up with ever-increasing number of folks needing some help.
“They just can’t get by with the price of gas and food,” explained Nehl.
It’s the same story all across the Missouri. A new report by Feeding America and the Missouri Food Bank Association- reveals one in five Missourians rely on food programs. That’s nearly 1.2 million people a year.
“It’s a lot of these things we knew. But we couldn’t quantify,” stated Bart Brown, CEO of Ozarks Food Harvest in Springfield. Ozarks Food Harvest serves to supply food banks across the area, sending out 15 million pounds of food each year.
“Demographically, if you take income out of the picture, these folks looks remarkably like the other 4/5ths of our population,” Brown said. “So, first and foremost thing for people to realize is these people are just like you and I. If you want to see the face of hunger, just look in the mirror.”
Even with signs the economy is getting better, organizations helping feed the hungry know their work is far from over.
“Our work is really important, we are told by these numbers that it is relevant, and that we are actually making some progress. But, we need to keep that momentum going,” said Brown.
Nehl stated what motivates those involved with Webster County Pantry. “It is what you are supposed to do as a Christian- take care of the poor. Which we are always going to have the poor, people are always going to need help.”