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Fulton organizations raise tons of food to help SERVE

by Rochelle Eiselt | September 8, 2022 at 4:15 a.m.

Three service Fulton organizations worked together to raise tons of food to help SERVE.

Fulton Rotary, Breakfast Optimist Club and Kiwanis raised 4,349.24 pounds of food to help SERVE.

"When we learned the shelves of SERVE's food pantry were practically empty, the Rotary Club of Fulton challenged the Kiwanis Club of Fulton and Fulton Breakfast Optimists to collect food the entire month of August," said Mary Ann Beahon, Rotary's community service chair.

Courtney Harrison, executive director of SERVE, said SERVE had been experiencing an unprecedented food shortage in the pantry.

"With food insecurity at an all-time high, the number of families who need our help is increasing every day," Harrison said. "Between the decrease in food and the increase in need, it's been a challenge to keep the grocery carts full."

Harrison said there was a drastic decline in the amount of food they received from their primary food supplier, which is from a food bank that serves Central and Northeast Missouri.

Although she said the food bank is doing its best to get SERVE (and the other Missouri pantries) what they can, their traditional supply chains have been disrupted. That loss can be felt and trickles down to local pantries like SERVE, who then have less food to give local families who need it the most.

Harrison said this has transferred a lot of the food acquisition responsibility to each pantry on a local level.

"We've unfortunately had to purchase more food just in the past six months than we did in the prior five years combined. We're extremely blessed to have such a great relationship with Mosers. They make it possible for us to buy larger quantities at a discounted rate, while keeping our dollars local," Harrison said.

During the month-long drive in August, Rotary collected 443.75 pounds of boxed and canned goods, as well as $3,420 in member donations.

According to SERVE, the monetary donations will buy 1,966.09 pounds of food.

Kiwanis collected 1,834.4 pounds of food and the Optimists did a one-day drive, collecting 105 pounds.

"We want to thank the Fulton and Callaway County community for contributing to this very important effort," said Brian Price, Breakfast Optimists president. "Helping out our neighbors is one of the best things we can do in life."

Harrison said she appreciated the efforts of Rotary for organizing the food drive.

"This will truly help so much," she said. "I love that you also challenged Kiwanis and Optimists. This community definitely knows how to take care of each other. Any monetary donations made during the food drive will definitely be put back into the community by procuring food locally."

"There's nothing like a challenge to bring out the best in our community," said Rev. Rebecca Dunger Peak, president of the Kiwanis Club of Fulton. "When our community's civic organizations partner to help restock the shelves at SERVE, the community wins. The competitive nature of the challenge only sparked greater generosity among the members of Fulton's Kiwanis, Rotary, and Optimist clubs.

"When we approach a community need with a mindset of abundance rather than scarcity, along with the belief that we have the capacity to rise to the challenge, then there's nothing keeping us from achieving the shared mission of serving SERVE Inc. We celebrate that our combined efforts netted more than two tons of food. Figuring for both food and cash donations, our shared gifts equalled 4,349.24 pounds of food. We hope the community will surpass our efforts during Hunger Awareness Month."

SERVE will be conducting its own food drive in September, which is Hunger Action Month, called Callaway County Harvest for Hunger. The month-long drive aims to get local businesses and county residents to donate to the food pantry.

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