The College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources has established a year-long relationship with The Food Bank for Central and Northeast Missouri to boost healthy food donations to the Food Bank.
The project, called Collaborating for a Healthy Future, will utilize the College’s expertise, partnerships and knowledge in such areas as agriculture, economics and nutrition. The project was announced during the CAFNR Comes Home Event during MU’s Homecoming.
“This is a perfect fit for our organization,” said Peggy Kirkpatrick, executive director of the Food Bank. “With food insecurity rates as high as they are now, we welcome this support. Recent statistics show that one in six people in our service area are food insecure, which means that they do not always know where they will get their next meal. The same statistic is worse for children. One in four children in our community experience food insecurity.”
In the next year CAFNR has pledged to:
- Coordinate Healthy Food Drives on the CAFNR campus.
- Plant two acres of fresh sweet corn to provide 14,000-28,000 ears for the Food Bank.
- Donate 500 lbs. of lean beef, 500 lbs. of quality pork and other fresh meats.
- Continue research programs, such as the Food Pantry Nutrition Project headed by Sandy Rikoon, to determine best practices in obtaining and distributing healthy food.
- Raise awareness of the need for healthy donations to the Food Bank’s Buddy Pack Program (8,000+ children each week receive food to supplement their lunches).
- Encourage CAFNR’s 20 outstate research centers throughout Missouri to create partnerships with their local food banks to address rural community food issues.
- Encourage CAFNR faculty, staff, alumni and students to volunteer at the Food Bank.
- Sponsor an annual fundraiser called the Float Your Boat for The Food Bank Cardboard Regatta. In this April event, college and community teams will build cardboard boats to race across a lake.
Healthy food choices are important as food pantry clients’ risk of obesity is twice that of the general population, Rikoon said. In the last 20 years, Missouri’s obesity rate has swelled from just over 10 percent to greater than 30 percent among adults, placing Missouri among the twelve most obese states in the nation
“Since its founding in 1870, CAFNR has been at the forefront of ensuring a safe and plentiful food supply for America and the world,” said Tom Payne, Vice Chancellor and Dean of CAFNR. “It is critical for us to employ our knowledge and expertise to emphasize the healthy food aspects in our own backyard and serve as an example for others to follow.”