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Vehicles were driving through a garage bay of the Farmington fire house Monday morning to be loaded with food.

The St. Louis Area Foodbank partners with the Farmington Ministerial Alliance to distribute food to the needy in Farmington. Maya Summers is the mobile programs coordinator for the St. Louis Area Foodbank.

“Today we are partnering with a local agency to distribute over 25,000 pounds of food to the community,” she said. “We’ve been working really hard to get the produce separated out, so when they drive through we’ll give each family a designated amount. We work hard to try to do food fairs here every six months, to support the community here as much as possible.”

Farmington is a part of one of 26 counties that the St. Louis Area Foodbank serves in Missouri and Illinois. The Farmington site is a drive through model. Clients drive in a door and stop at a stop sign that a volunteer will have at each station. At each station, volunteers will put a certain type of food into each car, making for a smooth process.

Farmington Fire Chief Todd Mecey explained why they now host the food fair event at the fire house.

“We host it and give them a place that is dry,” he said. “We’ve done it here the last two years. They used to do it at one of the churches, but here they have shade and no weather issues.”

Summers noted that they plan to be back here in December. She observed that there is a sizable demand for the service in the community.

“Historically, we’ve seen around 160-180 families from Farmington come to our food fairs,” she said. “At the end of each food fair we collect vouchers and then we are able to calculate how many people come through, and how many are children, so that we are able to see exactly how families and individuals that we are impacting.”

Most of the work is done by the local volunteers, in this case members from several churches that constitute the Ministerial Alliance.

“We have 30 volunteers,” Summers said. “We always recommend anywhere from 20 to 35 to keep it flowing and make sure there are enough people to help bag and separate items before we distribute the food out. All of the volunteers are local, we have four to five that are from the food bank as drivers.”

When a vehicle gets in line to receive the food, the occupants fill out the information about themselves and a number is painted on the corner of the windshield. Summers explained the reasoning behind the number.

“[It’s the] number of households per car,” she said. “That’s how many families are in the one car. We have a designated amount of food per one family, so if you’re seeing a car with more than one family, then we have to double or triple how much food we give so that each family gets the same amount.”

Summers explained that sometimes there is food left at the end. What is left depends on how many people show up. She expects and prepares for anywhere from 200-210 families. Any excess is donated to the local agency to take back to their pantry and they can continue to provide it to their community members.

The St. Louis Area Foodbank is funded by government grants and donations from several organizations that provide for a lot of costs. USDA provides some of the food from the emergency food assistance program. Some of the items provided include the potatoes, eggs, plums and grapes that are all supplied from the USDA to help supply the communities who need the food.

For more information contact the St. Louis Area Foodbank at 314-292-6262 or STLFoodbank.org

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Mark Marberry is a reporter for the Farmington Press and Daily Journal. He can be reached at 573-518-3629, or at mmarberry@farmingtonpressonline.com.

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