Story written by Cullen Ecoffey.
COLUMBIA — Stephanie Tovar and Jason Bradshaw have to experience the realities of food insecurity every day.
Tovar is self-employed and has recently had to rely on The Food Bank For Central and Northeast Missouri, recently to put food on the table for her kids. According to the food bank, one in six people in the region is food insecure.
“It’s good to have places like this ‘cause people don’t have what they need,” said Tovar.
Jason Bradshaw also agrees that the food pantry is quite helpful, but he uses it to stretch his monthly income. By getting bread and dairy products at the food bank, he can use his money elsewhere.
“I think it’s great like the program and everything,” Bradshaw said. “I mean there’s probably more people more deserving than me but I mean I use it to help fill the plate.”
Although they might not have much, people like Stacey Woelfel make it possible for organizations like the food bank to help those in similar situations as Tovar and Bradshaw.
Woelfel has been on the food bank’s board for 19 years and has donated both his time and money to it. He says his donating isn’t always for just to help others.
“We give for ourselves,” he said. “We say, ‘Boy I don’t have to go to bed hungry tonight.’ The notion of giving in that case is to share the stuff I have, to help them.”
By providing food for the kids, the bank also is able to impact the kids beyond ending their immediate hunger.
“A dollar invested in an early childhood nutrition program in a developing country could potentially return at least three dollars worth of gains in academic achievement, and perhaps much more,” according to the Journal of Public Economics.
When kids aren’t hungry, it gives them the ability to perform at a higher level and overcome their economic restrictions.
The food bank provides help to about 114,000 people a month, but without the donations of both time and money to it, many more people would go hungry.
“We are drawn in by the need,” Woelfel said. “Most of us don’t go to bed hungry, and through volunteering, I feel I’m doing my part to help and fix that for people.”
The food bank’s mission is sharing food and bringing hope to Mid-Missouri. Food Bank Communications Coordinator Mike DeSantis said that giving is a privilege.
“If you’re doing something to help others, and you’re not enjoying it, you’re doing it wrong.”
It’s this sort of attitude toward giving that helps charities survive. And, according to Woelfel, at the end of the day his giving hardly impacts his pocketbook.
“I have a chance to give up a little bit of time or money that I’m not going to miss very much,” said Woelfel. “Obviously that’s a big motivation.”