Food insecurity is a pervasive, structural problem that’s intertwined with poverty, wage stagnation, education opportunities, healthcare access, and transportation. In Boone County, 12% of our community lack adequate access to food. This leaves many of our neighbors not knowing where their next meal is coming from, skipping meals, and missing out on healthy options due to affordability or accessibility.  

Multiple studies show that people living on lower incomes experience higher levels of obesity, asthma, diabetes, heart disease, and other health issues. A lack of healthy food can harm a child’s physical and mental health, academic achievement, and future economic prosperity. Food-insecure children may experience delayed development, an increased risk of chronic illness, and behavioral problems like hyperactivity and anxiety. 

Food insecurity is often connected to other vulnerabilities. Through United Way’s 45 grants invested at 29 local organizations, we are making sure support addresses the whole person.   

Local communities play a vital role in removing barriers to healthy food and meeting an individual’s basic needs. At Heart of Missouri United Way, we are helping bridge the gap of food insecurity in these three ways: 

  1. Local solutions funded by local organizations. Heart of Missouri United Way funds a 3-year grant for the Opportunity Gardens at the Columbia Center for Urban Agriculture (CCUA) through our Health and Basic Needs Impact Investment. The Opportunity Gardens increase access to healthy food and alleviate financial pressure by empowering low-income families and individuals in Boone County to grow fresh food. CCUA provides a backyard garden, tools, education, mentorship, and support to achieve this goal.
  2. Local volunteers with a passion for helping our community’s most vulnerable. Give 5, our volunteer civil match-making program for retirees, has also had several cohort graduates pledge their “Give 5” hours to CCUA. In their work, they are able to help anywhere from maintaining the gardens to cleaning and packing the food that gets donated.
  3. Access to local food and basic needs supplies. Heart of Missouri United Way gathers and donates over 8,500 health and basic needs items annually to our community’s most vulnerable. We serve as the central hub for creating and disseminating wellness kits to those in need.

United Way knows that hunger can have detrimental impacts on one’s day and future, because of this, United Way pledges to continue to fight food insecurity by continuing to support the efforts to increase the food security of those in our Boone, Cooper and Howard counties.

Join the fight to reduce food insecurity in our community here.