The St. Louis Area Food Bank partnered with the Farmington Ministerial Alliance on April 26 at the Memorial United Methodist Church with a semi-truck full of food.
St. Louis Area Food Bank Agency Relations Manager Sara Lewis said the food bank partners with Farmington Ministerial Alliance, distributing food to the local food pantries, who in turn distribute it to their clients.
“What we are doing today is called a food fair and we are doing a large scale distribution to the community,” said Lewis. “Today, they gave out produce, dairy, dry goods and bakery items to help people supplement their diets.”
Lewis said clients can’t get everything needed from food stamps and the food pantries. She said the food bank likes to do this as a nutritional boost in the counties that need the help.
Students from the Farmington Middle School Character Council and Farmington High School Key Club were in attendance to help sort and distribute the food.
Farmington Middle School Teacher Scott Doty accompanied the students to the church and said the students look forward to helping out.
“I knew it was kind of short notice that we were going to do this, but we rallied the troops and we originally had 12 kids who wanted to come,” said Doty. “A couple ended up not making it and then another six or seven from the high school joined us.”
Doty said these school groups participate in this each year. Last year, the distribution point was at the Farmington firehouse so students were able to walk from the middle school.
“This year it was here so we had to arrange transportation and our transportation director, Stacy Williams, is great,” said Doty. “She’s a big advocate for character development at the middle school and high school, so she helped us with a bus.”
Doty added the Farmington Middle School Assistant Principal Todd McKinney and Williams are co-directors of character education for the district.
“They are very supportive and made sure we had transportation,” stressed Doty. “They made sure we had supervision and gave the kids an opportunity to come out and do a service project.”
Farmington High School Key Club Members Kirsten Snyder and Sydney Cisneros were tasked with sorting and bagging apples so they were ready for the recipients who were coming through the line.
Snyder said the organization participates in events similar to this. The group even brings food to the nursing homes in Farmington.
“We get food from the food pantry and stuff like that,” said Snyder. “We do a lot of community work and this is something I like to do. I like to give back to the people of Farmington – it’s a good town and I want to keep it that way.”
Cisneros said she thought it was really cool to be helping the community, one apple at a time.
“I’ve never really been out to one of these and I think it for a great cause,” said Cisneros. “I just want to be able to help others.”
A line of cars could be seen making their way through each stop for different items. Those stops were indicated by an orange cones in the church parking lot. At each stop, volunteers would place items in the person’s vehicle – whether it was cheese, bread, apples or potatoes.
“We partnered with the local food pantry and they distributed vouchers to the families who use them on a regular basis to come and utilize this event, as well as their regular pantry distribution day,” said Lewis. “They distributed 200 vouchers, so we should serve around 200 families with the 13,000 plus pounds of food we have here today.”
Lewis said the food bank covers 14 counties in Missouri and 12 in Illinois and they do these distributions once a month, mainly in rural areas.
“We track how much we are distributing in each of our counties by a measure called an MPPIN, which is ‘Meals Per Person In Need’,” explained Lewis. “So we track how many people in each county are at or below the poverty level and then we distribute pounds according to that number.”
Lewis said if one of their counties looks a little bit low in that metric they will do a food fair to bring more nutrition into the county.
“Thanks to Farmington Ministerial Alliance for being such an amazing partner to us and helping us host this event with their great volunteers,” said Lewis. “The food bank staff came and it was Ministerial Alliance volunteers who helped load the food.”
“Thanks to Farmington Ministerial Alliance for being such an amazing partner to us and helping us host this event with their great volunteers,”
Sara Lewis, St. Louis Area Food Bank
Renee Bronaugh is a reporter for the Daily Journal and can be reached at 573-518-3617 or firstname.lastname@example.org