When many think of hunger in their community, the depression-era images of a soup kitchen or breadline might come to mind. But those who do not know where their family’s next meal is coming from are a more diverse group than we might think. Food insecurity stretches beyond the homeless and affects many working families.
Recently, COUNTRY Financial partnered with Major League Baseball pitcher Adam Wainwright and his organization Big League Impact to help tackle the hunger problem affecting children in St. Louis. Rounding out the team was Operation Food Search, a non-profit organization dedicated to ending hunger in the greater St. Louis metropolitan area.
“People often forget that kids are hungry right here in St. Louis,” said Wainwright. “With the help of COUNTRY Financial and Operation Food Search, we are able to get out and help spread the word to help these kids and their families.”
Hunger doesn’t take a weekend break, and a lot of the children who rely on subsidized lunches at school don’t get meals throughout the weekend.
Through the month of July, COUNTRY Financial hosted an effort to collect kid-friendly, self-stable food items for the Operation Backpack program coordinated by Operation Food Search. Donations were collected at the agency offices in Kirkwood and O’Fallon, Missouri.
About 1,262 pounds of food was collected through the efforts; enough to fill nearly 160 backpacks. Children in 10 participating school districts will take home the backpacks before each weekend so they can continue to have nutritious meals while they aren’t in school.
“One in four kids in the St. Louis area don’t know where their next meal is coming from. That’s enough hungry kids—right here in our community—to fill Busch Stadium up four times,” said Wainwright. “If kids are hungry at school they aren’t in the best position to learn and grow. This is a simple way we can make an impact on these kids’ lives.”
At the conclusion of the drive on July 28, 2017, Wainwright appeared at the offices in O’Fallon and Kirkwood to thank fans for donating.
“So much of what we do is help people achieve the security they need for themselves and their families,” said Elias Corpas, COUNTRY Financial agency manager. “Partnering with Adam, Big League Impact and Operation Food Search to fight childhood hunger is yet another step to address the economic stresses felt by families throughout the St. Louis area.”