*Story also featured on page 21 of the June 2021 Missouri Methodist magazine.
Responding to concerns of hunger and poverty has been a long-time commitment of Festival of Sharing. The response has taken many forms throughout the years- from dividing bulk rice and beans and filling family food boxes to packing meals for Rise Against Hunger and raising money for farm animals through Heifer International. As we recognize the various ways hunger and food insecurity impact communities in Missouri and beyond, we are called to opportunities for growth and development in our responses. This spring, Festival of Sharing invited agency partners in Missouri to apply for Growing Access Grants. The funds aim to support projects, programs, or services that address hunger, food insecurity, or nutrition. Many great applications were received and respond to local needs through education, hands on experiences, and expanding nutritional options. A total of $6,400 was distributed across 9 agencies serving various populations across Missouri.
The awardees include Food for Morgan County, Migrant Farmworkers Assistance Fund, Christos Center, Hillsboro Food pantry, Cornerstones of Care (KC), Loaves and Fishes of Maries County, Whole Health Outreach, Victory Mission, and LifeWise StL. Festival of Sharing is excited for the recipients. They are passionate about community members of all ages having access to nourishing food. They demonstrate how education can be more than knowledge; it’s empowerment and inspiration. They are investing in their communities and we are honored to provide support and encouragement for their work. The programs range from teen cooking classes and mobile food pantries to container gardening, increasing protein intake for elderly, and supporting the nutrition of at-risk teens. A partnership with MU Extension will provide a diabetes self-management class, local pork will be distributed, and low-income families will be led through self-sufficiency activities. Scott Walker, President/CEO of LifeWise StL, expressed gratitude for the funds to help supply food to their families. "It will be used to buy fresh produce. We strive to give our participants access to healthy and fresh food options which tend to be more expensive than canned food (high salt content) and other processed food options. We value the partnership with Festival of Sharing and appreciate the work you do.”
We are hopeful the opportunity will present itself to offer the Growing Access Grants again next spring. Most of our in-kind gifts are shared with agencies through the Sharefests in the fall. We are grateful for the monetary donations received throughout the year helping us to extend this supplemental gift to the agencies this spring. For those interested in supporting this response, checks can be written to MOAC with Festival of Sharing- Missouri Hunger in the memo line. They can be mailed to Festival of Sharing, 3601 Amron Court, Columbia, MO 65202.