Harvesters The Community Food Network has served 26 counties in northwestern Missouri and northeastern Kansas for over 40 years by providing food and household products to more than 760 local partners, including food pantries, shelters, and community kitchens. As the impact of COVID-19 began to ripple across the country, they knew they were going to face unprecedented and unpredictable needs. As food donations decreased, food costs increased, and volunteers sheltered at home, they prepared to take action to ensure they continued to reach their community. Support from organizations like CVS Health, who provided a $20,000 grant to support their food distribution efforts, would prove critical.
As the pandemic set in, their nonprofit partners reported need increasing by 30 to 40 percent. In March and April, they distributed over 8.7 million pounds of food — an increase of 2.2 million pounds from the same time last year. And with supply chain challenges and reduced community donations, they found the cost to provide meals increased 300 percent. In response to these needs, Harvesters increased their distributions, including more mobile distributions, such as two “mega mobile” distributions that served over 16,000 people. And support from organizations like CVS Health filled the gap in food need: our donation provided 20,000 meals.
Within the community, their response has been welcomed. “It’s just been helpful having a variety of nutritious food and a clean and safe place to pick it up… I’m usually on the other side — giving,” said one client. “They’re so respectful here. They help you maintain your dignity.” We’re proud to support Harvesters and the quick response that allowed them to help this client, and thousands of others like her, get the food they needed throughout a difficult time.