A recession -- and the long, slow recovery we're experiencing -- has a variety of effects. One is fewer people can afford the groceries they need to feed their families.
It's hard to believe there are hungry people in Southeast Missouri. Most of us live surrounded by abundance. Even if we're short on money from time to time we still manage to eat enough.
But statistics from our part of the state paint an eye-opening picture. The Southeast Missouri Food Bank has distributed 5.1 million pounds of food so far this year in the 16 counties it serves. Some of those counties are the poorest in the state. The amount of food distributed is up 1.3 million pounds over the same period last year.
Most of the food distributed by the food bank to 150 not-for-profit agencies is donated by corporations and organizations that hold food drives. Meeting the demand for food assistance is a challenge.
One new program is Back Packs for Friday, which sends nutritious meals and snacks home with schoolchildren each Friday. That program will be expanded this fall. It takes $300 to fill a child's backpack for a school year.
Anyone who would like to help can call the food bank at 651-0400 for more information.