COLUMBIA — A massive, colorful pantry idled in the parking lot of Schnucks Friday to demonstrate the Food Bank for Central and Northeast Missouri's delivery capacity and to solicit food donations.
The mobile pantry is a Freightliner truck that can carry 14,000 pounds of food and was donated to the food bank by Kraft Foods. The truck is one of 10 donated around the nation.
Last year, Kraft Foods' National Huddle to Fight Hunger campaign donated over 20 million meals throughout the country. This year Kraft hopes to donate over 25 million meals.
“Food insecurity”is the dubbed phrase for when a family doesn’t know where their food is coming from next week, said Peggy Kirkpatrick, executive director of the food bank.
“Of the 32 counties we serve, 29 have a worse child food insecurity percentage rate than the national average,” said Kirkpatrick. According to data collected by the Food Bank for Central and Northeast Missouri, the national average of child food insecurity is 23.2 percent.
In Boone County, an estimated 32,521 people experience food insecurity, according to statistics gathered by the food bank. 7,080 are children under 18 years old.
The mobile pantry seeks to lower these statistics. The food bank already owns one mobile pantry truck, which distributed 993,642 pounds of food to the 32 counties in Missouri it covers in 2010, and it fed more than 3,400 peoplein those counties, said Rachel Ellersieck, communications coordinator of the food bank.
According to Ellersieck, the new truck holds 14,000 pounds of food.
“That’s 10,500 meals in just one trip,” said Ellersieck.
The Freightliner is composed of three cooling compartments and four dry compartments. One table compartment holds five tables.
“The truck will roll into pockets of poverty to places sometimes without a building for a food pantry, pull out the truck’s side awnings and set up tables to distribute the food,” said Kirkpatrick.
The truck's refrigeration units allows for delivery of meats and dairy products, which were items store owners often threw away, said Schnucks store manager Bill Chrisco.
The truck will set off on its first voyage Thursday to Unionville, Mo. in Putnam County.
“It’s hard to fathom being a 6-year-old and not having breakfast,” Chrisco said. “We are overwhelmed and awed at the changes this truck will bring to people’s lives.”