By Eric Bohl
Nearly one out of every three children in rural Missouri suffers from food insecurity. While this rate is shockingly high, food insecurity is not an exclusively urban or rural problem. According to the latest data from Feeding America’s Map the Meal Gap, there are an estimated 241,830 food-insecure kids in the state of Missouri, or one in five children overall.
And this lack of food has a real-world impact. Children who struggle with food insecurity may be at greater risk for stunted development, anemia, asthma, oral health problems and hospitalization. It has also been linked to lower mathematics and reading scores.
Missouri FFA students are taking action to do something about it. On Tuesday, August 14, nearly 700 high schoolers from across the state are teaming up with Missouri Farmers Care to pack over 100,000 nutritious meals for hungry kids right here in Missouri. After packing these meals at the Missouri State Fair in Sedalia, these meals will be distributed through Feeding Missouri to all six regional food banks in the state, thereby ending up on hungry kids’ tables in every county in Missouri.
This meal-packing event is part of the day-long Drive to Feed Kids at the Missouri State Fair, which aims to draw attention to the high levels of food insecurity across our state, especially in the same rural areas that grow the food we all eat. All day on Tuesday, August 14, admission to the State Fair is only $2 for anyone bringing at least two canned food items to the gate. This is an 80 percent reduced admission, just in exchange for helping hungry kids in our own backyard.
Last year at the inaugural Drive to Feed Kids, FFA students packed over 52,000 meals and the Drive raised over $165,000 for Missouri food banks. This year’s Drive aims to double the enormous successes of last year, which will take a huge effort from many people. Fundraising efforts have been ongoing for months, with agribusinesses and individuals pitching in to help double last year’s mark. Monetary donations will go to food banks to purchase meals for hungry kids all across Missouri.
On Saturday, August 18, Missouri Farmers Care will present a check to Feeding Missouri for the proceeds of the fundraising drive during the Cole Swindell/Raelynn concert. Anyone can help out with reaching these goals. Go to www.mofarmerscare.com/drive
to help the cause. Kids cannot change their own situation – it takes action from all of us.