COLUMBIA — Donations and fundraisers constitute the majority of the Central Missouri Food Bank’s revenue and are essential to keeping the bank operating day-to-day.
Last year, donations from fundraisers and food drives made up 57 percent of the bank’s revenues.
The food bank’s unique policy of free food distribution makes it one of only five other food banks in the country that does not pass on any costs to its member agencies, according to its Web site.
This policy allows more food to get into the hands of those in need, but it also leaves a large amount of responsibility resting on the shoulders of the local community, Kirkpatrick said, because the food bank does not rely on the government for a large part of its budget.
Instead, the bank looks to partner with the federal government in promoting policies that give tax incentives to businesses and individuals to donate food.
In the past, a major source of the bank’s food supply has come in the form of excess food donated from manufacturers. These manufacturers would, in turn, receive a tax incentive for their donations.
However, because of rising food prices in recent years, the tax incentives for manufacturers have not kept pace with the international secondary food market, Kirkpatrick said.
“Now the incentives for food manufacturers are so low, we rank right down there with taking it to the dump,” Kirkpatrick said.
It is because of this development that the bank has begun to depend more on local charities and faith-based organizations for not only the bulk of its operating budget but its food supplies, Kirkpatrick said.
Working toward a more collaborative role between faith-based groups and the government is something both Sandy Rikoon, a professor in MU’s rural sociology department, and Kirkpatrick agree is essential to combating the rising levels of food insecurity in the state.
“The more that the private sector and the public sector can be encouraged through incentives,” Rikoon said, “the better off we’ll be.”