Southeast Missouri Food Bank expanding to Jackson

SIKESTON, Mo. (KBSI)- Increased demand from the community has the Southeast Missouri Food Bank expanding to another location in Jackson.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the facility in Sikeston was ready to tackle the need for food distribution, but that’s all changed.

With more food coming to the distribution center to handle the increased demand from the community, its shelves are becoming over stocked and they are in need of more room.

Sarah Garner is the Chief Advancement Officer at the Southeast Missouri Food Bank.

“Prior to COVID we were feeding around 64,000 people a month,” Garner said. “Then COVID hit. People lost their jobs, and the need went up. Then the number jumped to around 90,000.”

The food bank distributes food to a 16 county area. By opening a second location in Jackson, it will make it easier to serve the northern counties the food bank covers.

With more government funding available post COVID, more food was coming to the distribution center.

“They were coming in and telling me the shelves were just full, and it just really showcased that we weren’t big enough to accommodate that number,” Garner said.

With delays in construction due to COVID supply chain issues, the second location isn’t moving as quickly as the food bank had hoped. They now hope to open sometime in the fall.

“We’re really excited about the opportunity to be very active in the Cape Girardeau county area,” Garner said.

Adding further urgency to their expansion, food banks are considered first responders in the event of a natural disaster.

By having a second location, that ensures that they can have a back up facility ready to serve people of southeast Missouri should the other become inoperable.

“We partner with 142 different agencies, primarily being pantries, senior centers, and we supply them with the food, and they’re the ones actually getting the food into the hands of the people in need throughout the 16 county area,” Garner said.

Additionally, every Friday the food bank has a program that feeds school age children by providing a back pack full of food.

They also feed 5,300 seniors every month with Senior Boxes. They have mobile pantries that serve up to 200 families.

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