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Resource Fair marks Catholic Charities Food Pantry second anniversary.

By Jennifer Hudson

To address the growing needs of mid-Missourians, community organizations and local collaborators are strengthening relationships to provide essential support and resources.

The Catholic Charities Food Pantry serves as a lifeline for individuals and families experiencing food insecurity.

As we commemorate the anniversary of the Food Pantry, we reaffirm our commitment to serving our neighbors.

This milestone holds profound significance for our agency and community because it symbolizes resilience, compassion and the unwavering dedication of volunteers and supporters who have worked tirelessly to provide services rooted in Catholic Social Teaching.

By implementing a client-choice grocery store model, our pantry provides food security to our neighbors in a way that encourages healthy choices, reduces waste and honors the dignity of each person.

Since opening in January of 2022, the Food Pantry has fostered a spirit of belonging and solidarity during challenging times.

As we reflect on the profound impact we have had on our community, we are amazed that in only two years we have served 2,811 unique households (7,606 individuals) and distributed over 776,350 pounds of food.

This work is made possible through continued partnerships with Feeding America, The Food Bank of Central and Northeast Missouri, and local grocery stores.

To date, pantry staff have rescued over 104,500 pounds of food, helping to reduce waste and reallocate resources.

On March 22, Catholic Charities celebrated the Food Pantry’s second anniversary by hosting its 3rd Annual Community Resource Fair at the central office in Jefferson City.

This event served as a celebration, but more importantly, highlighted the collective efforts of staff, volunteers, and community partners — all gathering to address needs that extend far beyond food security.

We partnered with over 20 organizations and service providers, all with a shared goal of connecting individuals to valuable and essential community resources.

From healthcare services and educational programs to employment opportunities and housing assistance, each participating agency offered a wide array of support mechanisms tailored to enhance the well-being of community members.

Participating agencies included: MU Extension Nutrition Program, Invictus Heath and Wealth, Missouri Department of Social Services, Home State Health, Housing Authority of the City of Jefferson, Central Missouri Community Action (CMCA), Common Ground Community Building, Rehabilitation Services for the Blind, Missouri Job Center & COPIC, SSM Health/St. Mary’s Hospital, Rape and Abuse Crisis Services, Missouri First Steps, Align Chiropractic Clinic, Missouri Department of Transportation, Community Health Center of Central Missouri, Compass Health Network, Southwest Early Childhood Center — Jefferson City Public Schools, Parents as Teachers, Pregnancy Help Center, The Food Bank of Central and Northeast Missouri, Landmark Recovery Center, Safer Home Collaborative, Jefferson City Fire Department, and Catholic Charities of Central and Northern Missouri.

This Resource Fair fosters long-term community engagement and collaboration. By bringing together a diverse range of organizations and services under one roof, the fair encourages networking, resource sharing and collective problem-solving.

It strengthens community bonds and empowers individuals to take proactive steps towards improving their lives.

When asked, Diane Elam, a devoted member of the pantry staff said, “I am continuously humbled and proud of the work we have done since opening two years ago and am in awe of the impact we have made in the lives of our community. The relationships we have established and the work we have done to always be ready to serve our neighbors is paramount. We are also so grateful for our wonderful volunteers and supporters with whom our work would not be possible.”

Catholic Charities, along with local agency partners, volunteers and supporters, serve as a testament to the collective commitment to supporting those in need and building a stronger, more resilient community.

As we move forward, let us continue to work together, uplift one another and strive toward a brighter future for all.