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More than 200 Pike County families were the beneficiaries of a food distribution event held last Wednesday on the grounds of the Louisiana American Legion.
The distribution, organized by the St. Louis Area Food Bank in conjunction with Heart to Heart Community Outreach’s food pantry of Louisiana and the Hope Center food pantry of Bowling Green, resulted in 23,069 pounds of healthy foods for 210 families.
“We have a lot of fresh produce that we were able to distribute,” said Sara Lewis, Missouri Agency Relations Manager with the St. Louis Area Food Bank. “As we know, in our industry, fresh produce is one of the first things people cut out of their diet when they run out of money before they run out of month. It is great to be able to provide them with this and infuse that nutritious produce back into their daily diets.”
The two local food pantries in Pike County were each provided with 100 vouchers to then distribute to area families prior to last Wednesday’s food distribution. According to Patti Bolton, executive director of Heart to Heart Community Outreach, there is always a need in the area for this type of assistance.
“There are always needs in Pike County,” Bolton said. “Being without a grocery store has made it difficult. That is why the (St. Louis Area) food bank started doing these drives when Kroger went out (in 2012). It is very much appreciated and I’m thankful for the volunteers who come forth.”
Volunteers who helped with logistics and the actual distribution of the foods included members of the Louisiana High School football team, local Girl Scout Troop No. 9257, Buffalo Township Fire Department and State Rep. Jim Hansen, as well as those who help the food pantries on a regular volunteer basis. Additionally, the American Legion donated its facility to host the event and Bolton acknowledged the added support received from Louisiana’s city government and fire departments.
“We had around 35 volunteers at this event,” Bolton said. “We can’t do this without them.”
Heart to Heart Community Outreach’s food pantry opened in 2009. Last Wednesday’s food distribution in partnership with the St. Louis Area Food Bank was the third in recent years. The 2014 event came a little early, according to Bolton, as the food fairs have been held in the fall during years past.
Although 200 vouchers were distributed for the event, Bolton said that does not cover the county’s entire need. Additional families that did not receive a voucher were assisted, coming to the event around 12:30 last Wednesday afternoon to obtain any food not received from families with a voucher.