Farmers to Families program attracting hundreds of families each week

Tuesday morning, three parking lots were packed full of residents at the East Hills Mall waiting for fresh produce.

Posted: Jun 3, 2020 7:51 AM
Updated: Jun 3, 2020 8:16 AM

(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) There's been heavy demand for food assistance in St. Joseph and the Farmers to Families program has been stepping up to help meet the need.

“It’s a godsend,” said Charla Caton, a Savannah resident at the Farmers to Families program. 

Tuesday morning, three parking lots were packed full of residents at the East Hills Mall waiting for fresh produce. 

“I think about half the mall parking here is about full,”said Richard Bradley, organizer of the Farmers to Families program. 

The stuffed parking lots is a sight organizers said is growing more common. 

Bradley said, “the lines have not slowed down at all,” and since the start of the program, "we have disseminated just over 8,800 boxes of food and milk since we started on day one.”

Two weeks into the Farmers to Families program and the demand hasn't let up. 

Even with a two hour delay waiting for the trucks delivering the produce from Des Moines, residents said it's well worth the wait. 

Gayla Hayes, a food recepient said, “I’m willing to wait. I already called my husband and told him where I’m at, he said ‘okay, baby.’”

Organizers said the packed lots they see every week, speak volumes and shine a light into the degree of food insecurity in St. Joseph. 

“We’ve always known that there’s a need in our city. There’s always a need in our community, but we weren’t aware that the need was as great as what we had experienced,”said Bradley. 

Vehicles are allowed to pick up food up to five families and many residents took up the offer. 

“If I could get something and pass it onto someone else cause not everybody has a vehicle, that’s my goal,”said Hayes. 

Bonnie Sharp, another resident awaiting the food trucks said, "I’ve been sitting here thinking, ‘who else can I give some stuff to if I can’t use it myself?’

Organizers said even with social distancing enforced, residents always find a way to express their gratitude. 

This phase of the Farmers to Families program will end on June 25th.

Event organizers haven't yet heard what the second and third phase of the Farmers to Family program will look like or it's timeline. 

The next food distribution will be Thurday, June 4th. The trucks at scheduled to arrive between 10:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m.

For more information on upcoming dates and to sign up as a volunteer, please join their Facebook group. 

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Monday looks to be warmer but with low humidity for northwest Missouri and northeast Kansas. Isolated storms are possible Tuesday. Scattered storms are possible Wednesday morning with hot and humid conditions returning for Thursday.
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