June 5, 2014 Meeting

Meeting Agenda – June 5, 3:30-5:00
Location: Community Foundation of the Ozarks

I.   Welcome – Greg Burris & Gail Smart
II.  Poverty Simulation Outreach by Sector: Update – Greg Burris

  1. Proposed goal: 25 simulations by July 1, 2015

III. Scheduling of Future Presentations – Greg Burris & Gail Smart

  1. July 3rd Meeting rescheduled to July 10th
  2. Economic Outlook Conference, August 26th, 8:00-11:00 am

 IV. Presentation: Affordable Housing and Homelessness

  1. Presenters: Michelle Garand, CFO, Affordable Housing Center

Debbie Shantz Hart, Housing Collaborative

V.  Questions and Discussion
VI. Adjourn

Commission Attendees:    

  • Greg Burris, Springfield City Manager
  • Gail Smart, City Center Christian Outreach
  • Nate Bibens, The Network
  • Scott Brady, CPO Board of Directors
  • Rob Dixon, Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce
  • Ashley French, Junior League of Springfield
  • Rob Fulp, Springfield First Community Bank
  • Brendan Griesemer, City of Springfield
  • John Horton, Rotary Clubs of Springfield
  • Chris Jones, City Utilities
  • Mary Kromrey, Healthy Living Alliance
  • Traci Louvier, Tuthill Vacuum & Blower
  • Morey Mechlin, Care to Learn
  • Francine Pratt, United Way Board of Directors
  • Mary Ann Rojas, City of Springfield
  • Tim Rosenbury, Butler Rosenbury & Partners
  • Carl Rosenkranz, OACAC
  • Cora Scott, City of Springfield
  • Winter Skelton, CFO
  • Larry Spilker, Buckhorn, Inc.
  • Mark Struckhoff, Council of Churches
  • Maura Taylor, Health Commission


  • Bart Brown, Ozarks Food Harvest
  • Mary Kromrey, Healthy Living Alliance
  • Stephanie Smith, Healthy Living Alliance
  • Gail Smart, Center City Christian Outreach


  • Janet Dankert, CPO
  • Trent Sims, CPO
  • Myra Massey, CPO


Meeting Notes:

Co-Chairs Gail Smart and Greg Burris welcomed everyone to the meeting and thanked them for attending.

In response to a suggestion from Morey Mechlin that the poverty simulation be offered to a broad spectrum of the population, Carl Rosenkranz asked for assistance from the group for approaching possible agencies and companies that might be interested. A proposal was made to recruit by sector and inform Greg of opportunities that he will forward to Carl. The following people volunteered their efforts:

Business/Banking/Financial – Rob Dixon and Rob Fulp

Young Professionals (The Network, Leadership Springfield, etc.) – Winter Skelton

Health Care – Carl Rosenkranz & OACAC

Education – Gail Smart and Tim Rosenbury

Rotary – John Horton

Government and Non-Profits – Greg Burris and Francine Pratt

Diversity – Francine Pratt

Bart Brown, President/CEO of Ozarks Food Harvest, was invited to present information about the relationship of food insecurity and poverty. Ozarks Food Harvest is a member of Feeding America, the nation’s leading domestic hunger-relief charity, and serves families, children, and seniors with its Mobile Food Pantry in a 28 Missouri county region. In addition to the Mobile Food Pantry, other programs have been initiated to assure that children who meet qualifications have food to eat weekends and summers. The Senior Food Box Program was initiated to serve low-income seniors, one of the fastest growing segments of our society for food insecurity.

The question was posed as to what the level of food insecurity is in Greene County and how are we doing?” The largest study of hunger in America will come out this summer and will give a more accurate snapshot of Greene County. Bart will share those numbers with the Commission when available. However, he did provide the following statistics: Missouri is the 7th highest state with food insecurity and 2nd highest in prevalence of low food insecurity; 16% of the population in Southwest Missouri are food insecure; half of that 16% is children and seniors; the other half is forced to choose between buying food and paying utilities. Based on the average weighted cost of a meal of $2.61 in Springfield, there is a shortfall of $20,435,000 required to bring everyone in food insecurity into food security, or 8,000,000 meals, in Greene County annually. OFH has experienced an increase of 36% in number of meals served by OFH pantries since FY2010.

OFH participates in federal programs providing food: Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP) aimed at feeding seniors; Temporary Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP); and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the backbone of the Federal program. More than half of the individuals who receive benefits are children or low-income seniors and 42% live in households with earnings. Approximately 30% of those eligible for SNAP in Greene County are not enrolled in the program for various reasons. OFH has a SNAP Outreach Program with Missouri Food Bank Association and has a full-time person on staff to help people apply for the program. This step, he feels, is the most important effort in alleviating hunger in the community and will have the most impact.

Bart would like to see communities and faith-based organizations increase their participation; however, with Federal programs contributing $80.5 million per year and faith-based organizations contributing approximately $3.5 million, it is unreasonable to expect the faith-based community to make up that difference. In order to measure impact, he urged the Commission to educate themselves on the characteristics and demographics of food insecurity through the Hunger in America 2014 study and to focus its efforts to commit to shrinking the meal gap, increasing participation of those eligible for SNAP, and increase the distribution of food in Greene County with emphasis on fresh produce and locally grown food products. A copy of the PowerPoint presentation was made available to those attending and can be emailed if requested.

Mary Kromrey is the Interim Executive Director for the Ozarks Regional YMCA for its downtown and school age services. She provided copies of the Ozarks Food Policy Executive Summary, a product of the Ozarks Regional Food Policy Council. It is a food assessment, across a 20-county area in Southwest Missouri, exploring the issues around the creation of a food system that will meet growing demands of locally-produced food, with a 2030 goal of seeing 20% of food consumed in Southwest Missouri produced locally. She encouraged the Commission to use it as a resource and to refer to it for 12 recommendations for reaching that goal.

Mary introduced Stephanie Smith who was a part of the steering committee and of one of the work groups for the food assessment executive summary study. Stephanie shared information regarding some of the YMCA school age services that serve about 2,000 children at 34 elementary schools before and after school hours, and about 500 children at 5 sites during the summer. During the 2013-2014 school year, the after-school meal programs fed about 27,000 nutritious meals to children in aftercare. This summer, it is estimated that the lunch program will feed approximately 17,500 children, and factoring in breakfasts and snacks, the program will provide about 20,000 meals.

Stephanie coordinates the “Local Sprouts” project which is striving to feed the children in their programs fresh, nutritious, and locally grown food and acquaint children with the actual sources of their food. The goal of the YMCA and its many partners, is for the program is to serve 40% locally grown food.

Springfield was one of six communities in Missouri chosen to deepen their work in healthy food access, funded by a three-year planning grant from Missouri Foundation for Health through the Convergent Partners’ Innovation Fund, to create sustainable resources for their respective communities. The project creates non-traditional partnerships and collaborations to expand the existing Midtown garden,

To enable residents in the surrounding neighborhood to learn to raise their own food. Drury Enactus is holding classes this summer to teach residents the fundamentals of planting and caring for produce and how to market and sell the produce if desired.

Morey Mechlin asked Mary and Stephanie if the capacity exists to meet these goals. Mary responded that we have the capacity in terms of soil, water, and sunshine, but we do not have enough farmers to farm at the level to produce what will be needed. A few communities are involved in the urban agriculture field: Cleveland, OH has a large community green house in the downtown area, and Chicago and the states of Vermont and Wisconsin are involved in similar programs, along with Rochester, NY. Bart encouraged Mary and Stephanie to collaborate with OFH in tentative planning for expansions because OFH has the ability to seek funding to build storage and distribution facilities for produce.

Gail Smart, a co-director of the Center City Christian Outreach Program, shared information regarding its food pantry, Well of Life. The Well of Life was opened in 2004 and is supported by eight churches in central Springfield, primarily serving individuals who live within the 65806 zip code in Springfield, the area of most need with a poverty rate of 41% and an unemployment rate of 14%. Clients may come six times per year; people outside the area will be helped once and are referred to an agency in their service area for follow-up assistance. MSU staff and volunteers began assisting MSU students in need through the agency this year.

Well of Life is open three days each week and operates with approximately 40 volunteers. The volunteers work with an interview sheet that includes certain demographics, health conditions, available methods of food preparation, and a mix of food and personal items depending on donations. About $3,000.00 per month is spent on purchase of food for the pantry. In 2004, from June through the end of the year, the agency assisted 230 families, representing a total of 476 people. In 2013, 2,691 families were seen, 1,300 of which were new; this number represented about 5,600 people. The agency has had to drop its assistance with rent and utilities due to a decrease in funding and donations. This year’s budget is $40,000.00, down significantly because of a decrease of $11,000.00 in donations.

Well of Life received a grant from OFH for equipment and purchased two large refrigerators, giving them the ability to accept more donation of fresh produce; through OFH, they are participating in the Walmart Challenge Grant; and have applied to CFO for a Performance Achievement Grant. A $5,000.00 grant has been awarded from a Catholic charity and will be used to assist with rent and utilities.

Greg thanked everyone for coming, with special thanks to the presenters for the wealth of information they provided. The next meeting will be Thursday, June 5, 2014 at 3:30 p.m.