In 2008, Gayle Savage had a vision of meeting a need for the residents and seniors in Seymour. “We provide food for the southern half of Webster County; Rogersville, Fordland, Seymour.” explained Winona Owens, Administrator at Kings Food Pantry. “Gayle felt it was laid upon her heart to start food pantries and that’s what she did. She did the paperwork and got it started and advocated for volunteers.”
“It started way before any of us ever got here and several of our volunteers have been here from the beginning,” reflected Owners. “They started out in the old school building in Seymour, the ‘old rock building’ and we’ve grown from there.”
“We work with four different organizations to provide food,” explained Owens. The largest of the four being the USDA and the CSFP (Commodities Supplemental Food Program). “The USDA allows us to provide food for about 204 households each month and the CSFP, a special program that is for people over 60, provides around 140-40 pound boxes of shelf stable food for seniors each month.”
“I volunteered here at the end of 2019 and immediately after that COVID hit. We used to be set up to where people could come in and “shop”. When COVID hit we couldn’t do that anymore. We didn’t know what it was going to look like going forward,” reflected Owens. “Ozarks Food Harvest started sending tons of food out because they were getting a ton of food but it took a lot of management. Someone had to date it, put it away, figure out when it needs to go out. I enjoyed doing it and they (the rest of the volunteers) were like ‘will you do it’ and I was like SURE,” laughed Owens.
“For a year and a half we didn’t have any food expenses. Now we are getting back to what we refer to as “pre-COVID”. We went from receiving 30 items (30 separate items), down to 5-10 maybe 15,” Owens shared about the current status of incoming food. “I’m calling them (Ozarks Food Harvest) ‘what do I do there is no food’ and they say ‘this is how it’s going to be, this is what it looked like pre-COVID’. Food prices are going up, we are buying more food, and it’s costing us more money,” stated Owens.
With growth and an increase in need for food, the Webster Electric Round-Up grant opportunity couldn’t have come at a better time. “We have what we call the refrigerator room, it holds 7-8 refrigerators that are at least 10 plus years old. Last summer, on the hottest days, they struggled to maintain temps. I told the board this was going to be a concern and since then we have lost one fridge,” explained Owens. The Kings Food pantry applied for and received a grant from Webster Electric in the amount of $4,599 to purchase a refrigerator. “We are hoping the new three door fridge will not only reduce our electric usage but also increase the amount of space we have for food storage.”
To combat the rising cost of food and the increase in food purchasing, the Kings Food Pantry has partnered with the Masons to have one of the Masons’ famous “Trash Can Feeds”. “They are cooking and providing everything for us. It’s $10 per plate and everything will benefit the pantry,” shared Owens. The event will be held at the Seymour Park on June 4th at 6:00 p.m. In addition to the Trash Can Feed, the city of Seymour is also hosting “Music in the Park” the same evening.
Distributions are on Thursdays; the first Thursday from 9 a.m.- 4 p.m., third Thursday 1:30-6 p.m., and the fourth Thursday from 9 a.m.- 4 p.m. The entire organization is completely volunteer run by about 15 people. The King’s Food Pantry and Thrift store is now located at 732 S. Division St. Seymour, MO .
This is the second story in the Webster Electric Round-Up Grant recipient series. To read about the other winners, continue to pick up your copy of The Marshfield Mail.
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