(Jefferson City) – More than 200,000 Missouri children are according to the Missouri Kids Count 2021 data book.
Today marks the last day of a summer nutrition program in Counties Cole and Osage that has provided food ingredients, a gift certificate, and even free books to hundreds of children in the area weekly.
Elizabeth Anderson, Osage County’s community economic development engagement specialist for the University of Missouri Extension, said it was unique in that in addition to providing the food themselves, they also provide recipes for children to try for themselves.
“I was trying to find recipes that didn’t need an adult to help them with,” said Anderson. “If you could really make it all by yourself from start to finish and share it with your siblings or your friends or family members.”
the Missouri not a child hungry Program in collaboration with staff at the University of Missouri Extension Nutrition Program and the Missouri River Regional Library. They also decided to use the library’s book mobile, a 12-meter long bus with reading corners inside so that children participating in the program can choose a book from the free book cart.
Claudia Cook, director of the Missouri River Regional Library, added that learning what it takes to plan food, cook, and even shop for groceries is a good skill when kids want to use the gift card to keep those in the package the ingredients contained. She added that the library is particularly excited that the program was able to support literacy as well.
“The kids say, ‘Yeah, let’s get the free book’ and run to the book cart to check the free book cart,” noted Cook. “It was just great for me to see her so excited about it.”
Food insecurity had decreased before the pandemic. In Cole County, it decreased from nearly 20% in 2015 to just under 12% in 2019, and from more than 16% to about 12% in Osage County.
The partnership, also supported by the Missouri Family and Community Trust, is one of many efforts to keep this advancement going.
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