The Columbia Center for Urban Agriculture hopes to alleviate food insecurity throughout Columbia, Mo., by implementing a new fundraising campaign, Planting for the Pantry, scheduled to launch May 6, 2013.
It's an apprehensive moment when a person becomes uncertain as to where his or her next meal will come from. Individuals facing this plight experience the dismal reality of food insecurity.
Planting for the Pantry is a new community initiative developed by the Columbia Center for Urban Agriculture to help tackle the issue of food insecurity in Columbia, Mo.
CCUA officially formed in the spring of 2009 and has successfully evolved over the past four years to its current state with a number of active programs and gardens. Adam Saunders, community and advocacy coordinator, was one of the original co-founders and has been working with the organization since its conception.
The latest focus for CCUA is a new fundraising campaign, Planting for the Pantry, to help nourish the community through healthy food and education. The campaign aims to raise funds that will be appropriated into three categories.
Half of the donation will directly buy the locally-grown food, which will be donated to a local food pantry. The other half will be split appropriating a quarter of the entire donation towards education and a quarter towards an endowment fund to ensure the success and longevity of the new program.
“Not only does a donation feed people today, it helps our education program, so it feeds people tomorrow. Also, a donation invests in our CCUA endowment fund, which will provide benefits into the future,” Saunders said.
During the first season, CCUA plans to plant a lot of nutrient-rich leafy greens such as kale, collards and spinach, which are highly productive providing many servings. CCUA is requesting a five dollar donation per square foot of production.
“Our goal is to match our sponsorship with the amount of families that get food at Annie Fisher Pantry so that all the families can have access to fresh produce,” Saunders said. “As our production increases, we will add more pantries to our distribution and make sure that they are also well stocked with fresh produce throughout the season.”
Planting for the Pantry will be collecting donations and delivering food to pantries year-round, but the vast majority of food will be delivered between June and Nov., primary harvest season.
“Every square foot counts in making a difference in the community. So even a five dollar donation to Planting for the Pantry will ensure food is delivered to people in need,” Saunders said.
Food banks receives donations from a variety of resources such as food drives, retailers, manufacturers and growers, but are always in need of fresh, nutrient-rich produce.
"We are making a concerted effort in 2013 and beyond to provide a greater percentage of fresh fruits and vegetables for our clients. Our goal for this year is to make fresh fruits and vegetables account for 25 percent of our total shipped poundage," Scott Gordon, communications coordinator at the Food Bank for Central and Northeast Missouri, wrote in an email interview.
Feeding America reports that the impact of hunger leads problems involving physical and mental health, child development and education.
According to the Food Bank, 41 percent of children in Boone County qualify for free and reduced-priced meals at school. The Buddy Pack program was created to help reduce the risk of food insecurity for children during weekends and holiday periods.
Students pursuing higher education are included among those coping with food insecurity. Last month, a panel of MU students gathered to discuss "Hidden Hunger: Food Insecurity at Mizzou." The Columbia Daily Tribune published an article in response to the event, "Students describe struggle with hunger," shedding light on individual students facing food insecurity.
Billy Polansky, general manager at CCUA, volunteered at the Heifer Ranch in Perryville, Arkansas after graduating from college. The Heifer Ranch, Heifer's oldest and largest learning center, includes programs geared to introduce participants to the idea that one person has the ability to make a difference in ending hunger and poverty. Polansky’s experience with Heifer International has become a valuable asset in blossoming Planting for the Pantry.
“I think Planting for the Pantry is something that’s been a long time coming. It’s kind of this missing piece,” Polansky said. “It really makes sense, and I don’t know why we didn’t think of it sooner.”
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