Southeast Missouri Food Bank awarded $20,000 Rural Vitality Grant

Southeast Missouri Food Bank President and CEO Joey Keys describes the "Hunger-Free Weekends" program, which received a $20,000 Rural Vitality Grant from the Community Foundation of the Ozarks, during a virtual event.

The Community Foundation of the Ozarks awarded $20,000 to the Southeast Missouri Food Bank, based in Sikeston, for its Hunger-Free Weekends program. This program supports low-income children with backpacks that provide nutritious, non-perishable food for kids to take home for the weekend.

The grant was one of 13 Rural Vitality Grants totaling nearly $250,000 presented via Zoom on Aug. 5 to nonprofit organizations in central and southern Missouri. Each agency was selected because it supports health, education and economic self-sufficiency in rural communities in the CFO’s service area of central and southern Missouri. This region is served the Cape Area Community Foundation, one of the CFO’s 50 regional affiliate foundations.

President and CEO Joey Keys said demand for the Food Bank’s services have increased through the pandemic. The grant will help serve about 200 more kids in five school districts with weekend back packs.

“It’s a much-needed program for kids in our area,” Keys said.

The Rural Vitality Grants, funded by an anonymous donor to the CFO, provided nearly $250,000 for 13 agencies serving central and southern Missouri.

The Rural Vitality Grants are a companion program to the CFO’s Louis L. and Julia Dorothy Coover Regional Grantmaking Program to support rural initiatives in partnership with The Commerce Trust Company. This is the second round of Rural Vitality Grants funded by an anonymous donor with a mission for supporting young people in communities with median incomes of 200 percent or less of the poverty rate.

“Grantmaking for rural communities continues to be a significant challenge and we are so grateful to this foundation for its willingness to let the CFO shepherd its resources using our experience working in rural Missouri and our network of 50 affiliate foundations,” CFO President Brian Fogle said.

As a place-based regional charitable foundation, the CFO’s leadership work includes developing and administering grant opportunities for external funders and donors interested in fulfilling their missions in areas such as supporting rural communities. The CFO has a network of 50 affiliate foundations that are well positioned to understand local needs and priorities.