In response to international trade wars, the United States Department of Agriculture has sent an extra 1.1 million pounds of food to the Food Bank for Central and Northeast Missouri so far this year.
The subsidy comes as the Food Bank prepares to open its mobile restaurant for children at the start of July.
Seth Wolfmeyer, communications coordinator for the Food Bank, said his hunger-relief network did not request the extra supply, but his team has adjusted to the surplus.
“It’s a welcome challenge to us to distribute it to those who need it,” Wolfmeyer said.
He said he was not concerned about having enough space to store the surplus.
The mobile restaurant, named Our Summer Food Party, aims to bridge the gap from the end of summer school until the start of the next school year. Families are welcome to the program, and adults can purchase a meal for $5.
The mobile restaurant will be open every weekday from Monday to Aug. 9, excluding this coming Thursday and Friday for the July Fourth holiday, at the following locations:
Wolfmeyer said the extra food from the USDA will not be used in the mobile restaurant. Instead, it will go to other specific assistance programs.
The additional food distribution is part of the USDA’s “trade mitigation programs,” which were announced in September.
U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said at the time that the programs act on President Donald Trump’s promise “to not allow American agriculture to bear the brunt of the unjustified retaliation from foreign nations.”
“These programs will allow President Trump time to strike long-term trade deals to benefit our entire economy, including the agricultural sector, in the long run,” Perdue said in a statement in September.
The Food Bank, which supports more than 145 partner agencies in 32 counties in central and northeast Missouri, distributed over 30 million pounds of food last year.
Wolfmeyer said he wasn’t sure if the food bank would receive additional USDA aid later this year.
Supervising editor is Elizabeth Brixey.
A Muslim woman was allegedly harassed by a man with a gun while driving with her two children Monday on Providence Road. Columbia community members and advocacy groups are calling for a hate crime investigation and have involved the FBI.
According to a Council on American-Islamic Relations news release, a white man driving a gold Buick sedan approached Heba Jassim from behind and eventually gave her the middle finger. He then followed her to the Midwest Petroleum gas station on Providence Road where the he allegedly flipped her off again and pointed a gun at her and her two children, according to the news release.
According to the news release, Jassim believes she was targeted because she was wearing a hijab, an Islamic head scarf traditionally worn by women. Police Chief Geoff Jones had offered to meet with Jassim’s family, said Iman Eldeib, Jassim’s friend who helped her immediately after the incident. The Missouri chapter of CAIR also plans to meet with Jones and the mayor’s office, Executive Director Faizan Syed said.
“I think these are both really positive steps that the city is showing — truly standing not only with the assaulted, but also with the community for this specific incident,” Syed said. “I’m really happy that the mayor is meeting with Muslims to discuss this and other issues.”
Syed said they have also involved the FBI and the case is still ongoing. He said CAIR is calling for the incident to be investigated as a hate crime. In order to do that, Syed said police have to catch the man and interrogate him to determine if the incident qualifies as a hate crime.
“Was she targeted because she’s a Muslim woman that wears a hijab? Or was it really just him basically being a crazy guy and pulling a gun on a mother and children?” Syed said.
CAIR and members of the community strongly believe this to be a hate crime, rather than road rage, because of the circumstances in which it happened. Syed said road rage cases usually involve someone cutting a driver off, cussing at them and driving away. He said you do not often see cases where someone continues to follow, curse at, mock and laugh at the other driver.
Both Jassim and Eldeib were headed to the Islamic Center of Central Missouri. Once there, Eldeib called 911 for Jassim. Syed said the two women were both very concerned, shocked and dismayed by what happened.
“I just stayed with her until the police arrived, and just kind of waited to see if there was anything I could do to help facilitate a good outcome for the situation with regards to our community and the police,” she said.
Syed said Jassim, Eldeib and CAIR have been pleased with the way Columbia police have handled the situation.
“They’re really putting resources behind it,” he said.
A public information officer from the Columbia Police Department did not respond to requests for comment.
Eldeib sees this incident as a community issue and feels proud of the work that Columbia police and members of the community have done.
“I think that it’s something that we have to work collaboratively on to make sure that we send a strong message that that’s not okay what they did, and that there will be consequences,” she said.
According to Syed, Jassim, who was unable to comment for this story, is in a much better state and is very grateful for the community support, and Eldeib agrees.
“Today, at this moment, I feel proud to be a citizen of the city,” Eldeib said. “I am proud to call Columbia home. The way that our police chief and the city has responded is a clear message that says, ‘We care about you all, and you as a Muslim community are part and parcel of us, and we want you to feel equally safe, guarded and protected. You matter.’”
Supervising editor is Libby Stanford.
A few months after stepping into the role, Carey Bryce left her position this week as internal auditor for the city, Columbia Communications Director Steven Sapp confirmed Friday.
Bryce, who was hired in February, transferred to a business analyst position in Columbia’s project management division, which is part of the city’s Information Technology Department.
The change comes as Columbia continues its search for a new city manager. Interim City Manager John Glascock said the city would wait on finding a new auditor until it fills the city manager job.
The internal auditor, who reports to the city manager, carries out both operational and financial audits as well as other analytical tasks meant to maximize the city’s efficiency.
Sapp described having an auditor as a priority for the Columbia City Council. Earlier this month, council members unanimously approved a policy that outlines the duty of internal auditor and the internal audit charter, providing a formal contract.
During that council meeting, Bryce raised concerns about the lack of employees in her department.
“The internal audit department should be a little larger for a city this size,” Bryce said. U.S. Census data from 2018 shows Columbia with a population of 123,180.
Bryce told council members that another two or three people would allow the internal audit department to better fulfill the city’s vision.
Sapp said he didn’t think Bryce leaving the position would have any effect on the audit policy approved by the council.
Bryce had not responded to a reporter’s inquiries as of Friday afternoon.
Supervising editor is Elizabeth Brixey.