About 600 needy Columbians will now have monthly access to additional food, thanks to the expansion of a federal food program.
The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services’ commodity supplemental food program will expand this month to include Boone County. Ten counties participate in the program that provides $40 worth of free food per month to low-income seniors, women and children. The program will now increase from 5,000 participants to 10,000. The expansion is funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The Boone County program will be administered by the Central Missouri Food Bank in Columbia.
“This is an incredible blessing,” said Peggy Kirkpatrick, executive director of the food bank. “I just wish it was bigger.”
Kirkpatrick said more people can be fed each month, now that the food bank will receive the supplies for the food boxes. The extra supplies will primarily serve senior citizens, she said, because women and children’s programs in Columbia are already working well.
Many needy seniors went through the Great Depression and World War II, she said, and because they know about hardship, some are reluctant to go to food pantries.
“Of all of our populations,” Kirkpatrick said, “that is probably one of the fastest-growing poverty populations.”
Those served by the program receive a monthly food box filled with grain products, fruits, meat, cheese, canned and powdered milk, vegetables and other items. The food box is meant to supplement the diet of a low-income person.
The food bank’s pantry is the only organization in Boone County that will receive items for the food boxes.
Joe Fornili, coordinator of the Central Missouri Food Bank pantry, said participants must be residents of Boone County and must provide proof of residency.