Like so many communities in the United States, 1 in 5 children in Pettis County, Missouri, goes to bed hungry. And if kids are hungry, there are likely others in their family who are, too.

That’s where Open Door Service Center comes in. We’ve been serving area residents since 1972, providing them with basic necessities like food and clothing. With no income guidelines, we help anyone who is having a hard time making ends meet due to underemployment, job loss, illness or high medical and prescription costs.

Recently, we were the recipient of a Tyson Foods pantry grant of more than $27,000. This grant helped us to purchase a modified forklift (walkie stacker) and cleaning supplies, distribute food to about 2,000 families, serve 1,200 meals through our soup kitchen, and pay general costs.

The walkie stacker enables us to move pallets onto the top racks of our racking system, something we used to do manually. Having a racking system helps us store double the number of pallets of food – and do so safely.

But our relationship with Tyson Foods extends beyond just that. Their plant in Sedalia has donated nearly 100,000 pounds of protein to Open Door and the community. They have also donated volunteer hours to unload product at our warehouse and stepped in when our protein supply is low. 

Between our soup kitchen and food pantry, we distribute an average of nearly 114,000 pounds of food per month. Storage and management of this quantity would not be possible without Tyson’s grant, nor would we have the large quantity like this without Tyson’s donations.

Beyond our relationship with Tyson Foods, we rely heavily on canned food drives, produce from local growers, and the generous donations of other organizations like the Food Bank for Central and Northeast Missouri and Feeding America.

When food supply is taken care of, Open Door has more capacity to meet other needs such as providing vouchers for utility assistance, thrift store purchases, prescriptions, medical co-pays, and assisting with mechanical repairs for those going back to work or school.

During Hunger Action Month, we want to say a special thanks to those who help keep America fed. And ask of each person, “what can you do to help the most vulnerable in your community?”

Director of Development/Volunteer Coordinator at Open Door Service Center