genKC at Harvesters

WRITTEN AND PHOTOS BY MELISSA COON

Research shows that access to nutritious food is key to a healthy community. Unfortunately, 374,660 people are food insecure and missing an estimated 65.6 million meals annually.

Moreover, nearly one in seven people in Kansas and Missouri, alone, are food insecure. This means that while they may have food today, they do not know if there will be food tomorrow or enough food for everyone in their household.

Harvesters is trying to combat this issue.

A regional food bank serving a 26-county area of northwest Missouri and northeastern Kansas, Harvesters provides food and related household products to more than 620 not-for-profit agencies including emergency food pantries, community kitchens, homeless shelters, children's homes and others. They also offer education programs to increase community awareness of hunger and teach good nutrition.

I recently had the privilege of visiting their main facility in Kansas City, Mo., when I dedicated my time with the genKC volunteer event at Harvesters. More than 40 young professionals came together on February 25 to pack 1,125 weekend BackSnacks for kids who receive free or reduced-price school meals and 223 monthly commodity food boxes for low-income seniors. Together, we served more than 1,300 individuals.

As someone who is extremely concerned about health and wellness as well as the fact that proper nutrition is not easily accessible, I have always been interested in finding ways to serve those living in "food deserts." Because of this, I was pleased to learn that Harvesters not only aims to "feed hungry people today and work to end hunger tomorrow," but they also promote proper nutrition education and include nutrition pamphlets in all of their packages.

The bottom line is this: Everyone wants to live in a community where we can grow, work and lead healthy, productive lives. By coming together to provide nutritious food to underserved areas, we can improve our community's health and economic vitality. It's a win-win.

IMPACT STATISTICS — IN 22 MONTHS, WE’VE HELPED 704 VOLUNTEERS COMPLETE 1,829.5 SERVICE HOURS FOR 41 CHARITABLE ORGANIZATIONS IN KANSAS CITY.