Last year, Least Of These Food Pantry distributed 704,399 pounds of food. The organization is set to distribute a million pounds to persons in Christian County who are food insecure in 2019.
To celebrate, Least Of These Food Pantry held a ribbon cutting Sept. 9, more than a year after a move from Nixa to its new 18,000-square foot location in Ozark. The event additionally marked the organization’s new memberships with the Ozark, Nixa and Sparta Chambers of Commerce.
“Today, we’re here to celebrate what happens when a community comes together to care for those in need,” Least Of These Executive Director Bonnie Schooler said.
Feeding the hungry
Least Of These has come a long way in its last 21 years.
“The first month that we were open in another location, we served 10 families, and 21 years later, we’re serving 840 families a month,” Schooler said. “That number will peak in the months of November and December. We may well see more than a thousand families.”
The organization doesn’t receive any government funding, either, Schooler added. It is thanks to the hearts of Christian County residents that makes the food pantry work.
“We exist purely because of the generosity of individuals, businesses, churches, community groups and foundations that support the work we do here,” she said.
Following a presentation of colors by Ozark High School JROTC, a performance by Nixa High School Chamber Choir and a prayer by Christian County Western District Commissioner Hosea Bilyeu, State Rep. Lynn Morris, R-Nixa, read a letter to Least Of These by Gov. Mike Parson.
“I commend your organization for faithfully serving the Missouri community as the only food pantry serving Christian County, where more than 8,000 people live in poverty,” the letter reads.
A Missouri House of Representatives resolution applauding the accomplishments of the organization was also read by Morris.
Morris additionally thanked attendees and encouraged them to give when they feel compelled to.
“I’m sure they’ll take whatever you give them out of your heart, but money—they can buy food at 10 cents a pound,” Morris said. “We can’t do that, so money is always appreciated.”
Finding more food
Least Of These Director of Development Kristy Carter said two upcoming events will help the organization immensely. One of them is Can the Tigers/Can the Eagles, which rallies students and community members from Ozark and Nixa to gather as many food items and as much money as they can. A winner—the school district that comes up with the most donations—will be announced at the Backyard Brawl football game Sept. 20 in Ozark.
“It’s our biggest food drive of the year, so please help support that,” Carter said.
A Least Of These Sunday will also take place across Christian County churches Sept. 29.
For more information regarding Least Of These donations, visit the organizations website at http://leastofthesefoodpantry.org.