Food Bank rolls out mobile pantry

Thursday, August 25, 2011 | 4:17 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — Columbia residents are invited to stuff a "hunger-fighting vehicle” with food on Friday.

From 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday, the Food Bank for Central and Northeast Missouri will be outside Schnucks on Forum Boulevard launching its new mobile pantry and asking people to stop by and donate. A ribbon-cutting ceremony is set for 9:30 a.m.

“We can show off something that we’re really proud of and get the community involved,” Rachel Ellersieck, Food Bank communications coordinator, said.

Schnucks secretary Julie Coleman agreed.

“It’s just an easier way for people to make donations,” she said. “Right now, the need is so great for food around Missouri, and we are very, very fortunate in Columbia and in our store. We have a lot of giving customers.”

The Food Bank is one of 10 in the nation that received a grant from Kraft Foods Foundation for the truck, which is valued at more than $160,000, Peggy Kirkpatrick, executive director of the food bank, said.

The truck is structured like a beverage vehicle with sides that roll up. Inside, there are refrigerated and freezer compartments so the pantry can transport fresh, frozen and canned foods.

The food bank serves one-third of Missouri, or about 18,000 square miles and 32 counties, Kirkpatrick said. Missouri is ranked fifth in the nation for food insecurity for children, which means families don’t know where their next meals are coming from, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The food bank already has a truck, but it is about 9 years old and is on the road every day, Kirkpatrick said. Having two trucks will enable the food bank to double yearly donations, which is about a half-million pounds, Ellersieck said.

Ultimately, the use of the truck should mean fewer auto repairs and expanded donation services for the food bank.

“We are thrilled to get any type of truck,” Kirkpatrick said. “To get a brand new piece of equipment as excellent as this is awesome.”

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