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Nutrition Based Programs Support Families, Students

At United Way, our hope is to help everyone in our community achieve their full potential. We want to see elementary students reading at grade level, seniors living independently and families thriving as they work and play in Southeast Missouri. Every individual involved in our partner programs serve has the potential to achieve their dreams, and our partners work diligently every day to help make the path to achieving those dreams a little easier.

Do you remember Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs? We all learned about it in our high school psychology class, and I imagine the most of us have pushed it into the backs of our minds. The stage I described above is known as “self-actualization”; self-fulfillment needs we all strive to achieve. However, it’s not possible to achieve these goals if our psychological and basic needs aren’t met – basic needs such as food and shelter.

March is National Nutrition Month, which means now is the perfect time to highlight our many partners who work every day to help families in the community obtain their basic needs. United Way of Southeast Missouri works with organizations such as the Jackson Ministerial Alliance, the Scott-City Ministerial Alliance, the Community Caring Council, The Salvation Army, Jackson Senior Center and Little Whitewater Baptist Church Food Pantry to ensure that hard-working families have the support they need during difficult times. These organizations collectively serve over 15,000 individuals and families every year.

  • The Salvation Army’s Meals with Friends are served the last 2 full weeks of the month and allow individuals the chance to have a hot meal on site and take one with them for later. The hope is that those who are going through financial struggles are able to spend money they would typically use on food to, instead, apply that savings toward another necessity like rent or utilities.
  • Similarly, the Jackson Senior Center’s Home Delivered Meals align with our mission to keep seniors in our area living independently longer. Two meals are delivered to seniors in the area; one for lunch and another they can heat for dinner.
  • The Community Caring Council’s Successful Parenting Program identifies a family’s strengths and helps them identify how they can build on them. The 5-week program includes classes on communication, managing stress, money matters and more. United Way of Southeast Missouri sponsors the family meals that are provided each week. This not only encourages attendance for struggling families, but emphasizes the value of eating together as a family.
  • Our three food pantries are vital to the communities they serve. Little Whitewater Baptist Church Food Pantry is located in Bollinger County and started out feeding a handful of families every month. The organization has now outgrown their church facility and recently purchased an old firehouse and renovated it into their new home. There they were able to install refrigeration units to allow families to get necessities such as milk and cheese, along with fresh fruits and vegetables. The Jackson Ministerial Alliance and The Scott City Ministerial Alliance both run pantry programs that allow for families in their respected cities to come in once every month for food assistance.
  • On average, 52% of students in the five school districts we serve are on the Free/Reduced Lunch program. Our outcomes indicate this is the only meal many of these students get each day. UWSEMO established a Student Emergency Fund in each school in partnership with the SEMO Food Bank’s Backpacks for Friday (BFF) program to send students home with food each weekend. 

We all know how hard it is to do our best when we are hungry. Now imagine dealing with hunger every day while being expected to learn and work. Hungry students do not perform well in class or on tests, and worried, hungry parents cannot function well on the job. We are thankful for our many partners who ensure that families across Southeast Missouri have one of life’s most basic needs met. Please make your donation now to support National Nutrition Month and ensure these vital programs continue to strengthen our community.