Turkey File One

The Second Harvest Community Food Bank hosts super mobile pantries where they distribute food at their facility located near St. Joseph Avenue.

Almost 55,000 people in Second Harvest Community Food Bank’s 19-county service area are dealing with food insecurity, according to a new report.

The “Map the Meal Gap” report comes from Feeding America, the largest hunger-relief organization in the United States.

While Second Harvest Community Food Bank has met some of the growing demand in Buchanan County and 18 other counties in Northwest Missouri and Northeast Kansas, the numbers are higher than what would have been projected without a pandemic, said Second Harvest Communications Coordinator Blake Haynes.

“It basically went from 45,000, just over to nearly 64,000 during the peak pandemic number,” Haynes said. “Then right now we’re sitting at about a little over 54,000.”

It’s positive news that the number of people who identify as food insecure may have shrunk by 10,000 since summer. However, the fact remains that the demand is 9,000 individuals higher than pre-pandemic numbers.

Currently Atchison County, Kansas, has the highest percentage of the population which is food insecure at 18.3%. Harrison County, Missouri, is next at 17.1%, and Buchanan County is third at 16.5%.

The “Map the Meal Gap” report released last summer showed that one in four children in Buchanan County is food insecure.

“Take a classroom of 20 – five of those students are food insecure,” Haynes said. “Hunger has no race, it has no gender, it has no bias. It affects everyone, you know, people from all walks of life.”

The current number of kids who may be hungry when they are dropped off at school could be similar to what they were, but pending research from Feeding America will have the definitive answer.

Haynes said increasing Second Harvest’s number of mobile food pantries is going to be part of the solution to helping those in need.

“I think one of the biggest adjustments we’re gonna see this year is really taking that mobile distribution number from 26 to 40,” Haynes said.

Second Harvest had to cancel a number of mobile pantries over the last few weeks because of snow-covered roads and cold temperatures.

To find upcoming mobile pantries, go to shcfb.org/news-events/event-calendar.html or call Second Harvest at 816-364-3663 to find out more.

Ryan Hennessy can be reached at ryan.hennessy@newspressnow.com. Follow him on twitter: @NPNowHennessy.