Editorial: SEMO Food Bank doubled food distributions in 2020

The Southeast Missouri Food Bank rallied quickly to meet the rising need of those facing food insecurity due to the pandemic.

During a time when most of us were limiting the places we went and people we came into contact with, the food bank stepped up to the plate for those in need. They were determined to help get food to families, holding a remarkable 432 mobile distributions in 2020, compared to the 234 held in 2019.

As an effort to keep everyone safe, mobile distributions were converted to drive-thrus to limit contact that might contribute to the spread of COVID-19.

Food bank Chief Executive Officer Joseph Keys estimates the food bank is serving about 40% more families than before the pandemic, going from serving 63,000 households per month to 85,000 to 90,000.

The food bank provides food to 140 food pantries, soup kitchens and shelters in 16 Southeast Missouri counties, and distributed a record 16.35 million pounds -- or 8,175 tons -- of food in 2020.

That equates to 13.6 million meals to thousands of Southeast Missouri families and individuals in 2020.

According to Feeding America, of which the Southeast Missouri Food Bank is an affiliate, one in five people and almost one in three children are considered food insecure in Southeast Missouri.

In addition to Cape County, the Southeast Missouri Food Bank serves Bollinger, Butler, Carter, Dunklin, Madison, Mississippi, New Madrid, Pemiscot, Perry, Reynolds, Ripley, Scott, Ste. Genevieve, Stoddard and Wayne counties.

Thank you to the food bank CEO and employees, donors and volunteers for rolling up your sleeves when our area was in need. Our area's elderly, families, children and anyone needing food have been taken care of during such trying times due to the services of the Southeast Missouri Food Bank.

To find out more or make a donation, visit semofoodbank.org.