Area residents once again have the opportunity to make their donations count for more as SERVE, Inc. participates in the 14th Annual Feinstein Challenge, which gives away $1 million each year to fight hunger.
From now until April 30, the Feinstein Foundation - which is dedicated to the alleviation of hunger - will proportionately match donations or pledges of food and cash received by the SERVE food pantry.
"I know that it has encouraged people to give in the past, because it leverages more money as an incentive to give," said Julie Roark, director of SERVE's Callaway Action Network, noting this is the third year SERVE has participated in the challenge. "It really motivates others to raise money."
Roark said whether it is through monetary donations or contributions of food stuffs, every little bit the food pantry receives has a direct and valuable impact on its mission.
"That's bringing additional resources into the food pantry and helping more people," she said. "Currently we're realizing the food pantry is only going to be utilized more and more.
"With gas prices skyrocketing, people have less disposable resources and we're seeing a higher demand for services."
Noting that SERVE employees work hard to "try to find every possible way to get money and support we can," Roark said the Feinstein Challenge is "another great way we can do that."
She said the food pantry is always in need of donations, but emphasized that with the proportional match from the Feinstein Challenge and the ever-increasing level of need in Callaway County, if area residents want to support the cause, "now is the time."
"This is the time as you're driving home and you see how high gas is and realizing there is a child out there that is possibly going to go hungry if we can't provide those resources," Roark said. "A box of cereal, a jar of peanut butter could be the difference between going to bed hungry or going to bed with food in their stomach.
"It's a sad reality."
The SERVE food pantry is located at 4901 County Road 304 in Fulton and is open 9 a.m. to noon Monday, Wednesday and Friday, as well as 5-7 p.m. on the second and fourth Tuesday of every month. For more information, call (573) 642-6388 or visit www.serveinc.net. To learn more about the Feinstein Challenge, visit www.feinsteinfoundation.org.