Making sure the hungry get fed

As the Thanksgiving holiday nears, for our Facebook Story of the Day, many viewers were concerned about whether food pantries will have enough food to feed the needy.

The short answer is yes. Mike DeSantis, the Regional Director of the Food Bank for Central and Northeast Missouri said they have about a million and a half pounds of food available as of November. But, he emphasized that the food bank is always in need of donations because food leaves their warehouse and is distributed to local pantries daily.

DeSantis said they are on par to giveaway 30 million pounds of food by the end of 2011.

As KTVO cameras arrived at the Love Inc. food pantry at the Church of the Nazarene in Kirksville, it seemed there was plenty of food to go around.

Many of our Facebook fans also wanted to know how food banks and local food pantries promote healthy diets for the those in need. Here's what DeSantis had to say about that topic.

"The first part of any diet is food," said DeSantis. "Our first concern is getting people food. We give out a great variety of food to people and we don't tell the pantries how to give it out. So, one of the best places to get a healthy diet is school or from a nutritionist; our main vision is giving people food."

DeSantis also suggested donating canned foods, because they're harder for the Food Bank to distribute due to transportation costs. Also, they recommend donating items that can easily be made into meals, such as chilli, or pasta sauce.

"Tuna fish, canned chicken. We're interested in feeding people...feeding people first and then feeding people better. There's many, many, people who aren't eating at all."

DeSantis said many of those hungry people live in Kirksville. He said the Food Bank distributes enough food to local food pantries to serve about 2,300 in Adair County. One of those food pantries is The Church of the Nazarene's Love Inc. The church's pastor said it feeds about 100-150 families each month.

If you're really feeling the urge to donate, pantry workers at Love Inc. suggested opening up your checkbook.

"One of the best ways you can help Love Inc. would probably be a financial donation because we can target and specifically buy food that's needed and put it into individual meals," said Pastor Mark Hager, the Director of Love Inc. Food Pantry and the Pastor of The Church of the Nazarene. "So, we can buy one pound of hamburger and some pasta or some peanut butter and jelly, and bread..and we can make meals and put them together for families. That makes it much easier."

In addition, DeSantis said that the Food Bank will be collecting donations all day Thursday, Nov. 17 outside of the Kirksville Wal-Mart.