LIBERTY, Mo. — The Clay County Public Health Department is hoping to curb food insecurity with a new mobile food pantry.
In the Kansas City region, one in eight people are food insecure, according to Harvesters Community Food Network. Harvesters' mission is to feed hungry people today, and work to end hunger tomorrow.
"We're looking for those strategic and proactive partners where we can partner to bring more food out to the community," Jessica Kejr, Director of Programs and Client Collaboration Initiatives for Harvesters said.
In July, Harvesters kicked off a new mobile food pantry concept. On the first Wednesday of each month, Harvesters sets up at the Clay County Public Health Center in Liberty, Missouri, to give clients access to healthy foods.
"These loads are primarily fresh produce, sometimes there's bakery items or dairy items, but it's usually the fresh produce, so today we have melons, and tomatoes and carrots and cucumbers and celery," Kejr explained.
The fresh foods are ones local families don't always have in their kitchens. In Kansas, more than 250,000 adults are food insecure, and in Missouri, more than 600,000 adults experience food insecurity.
"It's sometimes hidden that people don't realize that that's what's happening in their community. These are their neighbors and classmates and co-workers that might be in need of food," Kejr said.
In 2016, more than $50 billion in healthcare costs were associated with food insecurity. In Missouri, it can case people to pay an extra $173 in healthcare costs and $154 in Kansas.
According to the Clay County Health Department, those costs can cause a vicious cycle as people battle health problems and food insecurity.
Harvesters said the mobile food pantry is growing, but currently serves an average of 70 households per month.
The mobile food pantry is for anyone in need of food. It opens every first Wednesday of the month from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Clay County Public Health Center.