Annual Thank a Farmer Week begins with food donations to Ronald McDonald House

Monday, February 11, 2013 | 6:56 p.m. CST

COLUMBIA — The kitchen island at the Ronald McDonald House was covered in food on Monday.

“Wow, we’re going to run out of room,” Rachel Ellersieck, the Ronald McDonald House's director of development and communications, said as the food came in.

For the 15th year in a row, volunteers from the Missouri Farm Bureau delivered food to the Ronald McDonald House pantry to begin Thank a Farmer Week. One-by-one, volunteers carried 11 boxes of food into the kitchen of the Ronald McDonald House of mid-Missouri. The donations were collected at the Missouri Farm Bureau’s annual meeting in December.

Volunteers unpacked various food items, ranging from canned vegetables and soup to cereal and fruit cups.

“We’re trying to help people connect to their source of food, and that’s the farmers,” Diane Olson, the promotion and education director for Missouri Farm Bureau, said. "People take things like food and clothing that come from agriculture for granted. Agriculture is the source of so much we use everyday."

When collecting the donations, Bureau members were asked to bring only food that had expiration dates past February, Olson said.

In addition to the estimated several hundred pounds of food, Missouri Farm Bureau donated $100 in gift cards for use on perishable items. Another $100 was donated in December.

“We go through food pretty quickly, but the generosity of the community has really kept up with us,” Ellersieck said.

The collected donations are divided among four Ronald McDonald Houses across the state.

“Columbia was our first delivery today. We’re going to Joplin tomorrow, Springfield Wednesday, and Kansas City on Thursday,” Olson said. “They will all get the same amount of food and gift cards.”

Ronald McDonald House Charities of Mid-Missouri is moving from its current location at a 30-year-old house off Stadium Boulevard, to a new, larger house near the University of Missouri Women’s and Children’s Hospital, just south of the intersection of U.S. 63 and Interstate 70.

“Capacity and proximity to the Women's and Children's Hospital are the top two reasons,” Ellersieck said, “ but I could go on and on about why we’re excited to move to the new house.”

The exterior of the new building is complete, and work on the inside has just begun, Ellersieck said.

“If you drove by now, it’d look like it was done,” she said.

The new house has a $2.6 million fundraising goal, of which $1.9 million has been donated. The charity expects to be moved in to the new location by this time next year.

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