Open Door Food Program volunteers serving area youth


By Hope Lecchi - [email protected]



Robert Hostetler, center, and Juan Astorga, both of Vital Farms, serve mashed potatoes and gravy into food serving containers as they volunteer Wednesday at the Open Door Summer Food Program at Smith-Cotton Junior High. Vital Farms sent 20 volunteers to help at Open Door on Wednesday at both the food program and the Open Door Thrift Store as part of their Day of Service.


Hope Lecchi | Democrat

Julie Johnson, a volunteer at the Open Door Summer Food Program, prepares the food serving containers for packaging Wednesday morning in the cafeteria at Smith-Cotton Junior High. Each day an average of 72 volunteers deliver 900 hot meals daily to children 18 and younger in four counties.


Hope Lecchi | Democrat

Shelly Smasal spoons fruit cocktail into a serving container Wednesday morning in the cafeteria at Smith-Cotton Junior High. Smasal, a cook for the Open Door Summer Lunch Program, helps to prepare an average of 900 meals daily for area children.


Hope Lecchi | Democrat

Isabella Oswald, a volunteer, arranges chicken nuggets on a baking sheet before placing them in the oven to bake Wednesday morning as part of the Open Door Summer Lunch Program meal for the day. Wednesday’s menu featured mashed potatoes and gravy and fruit cocktail with milk.


Hope Lecchi | Democrat

Caden Stockwill carries a tray of chicken nuggets Wednesday morning while volunteering at the Open Door Summer Lunch Program. According to Sue Foster, Open Door Summer Food Coordinator, more than 900 children ages 18 and younger are provided a free hot lunch daily through the program. The program relies on volunteers who are invaluable, Foster said, in allowing the program to serve the youth of Pettis and three additional counties.


Hope Lecchi | Democrat

Each day in Sedalia and in three surrounding counties, a group of dedicated men and women help to care for more than 900 residents through their volunteer efforts.

The Open Door Summer Food Program has served warm meals on a daily basis to children 18 and younger for the last seven years and would like to help more, but to do that, they need a little help.

“We truly are a volunteer organization with one goal in mind, to feed kids,” said Sue Foster, Open Door summer food coordinator. “The more volunteers we have the more kids we can feed.

“We don’t ask questions, we don’t care what someone’s income is or ask where they live, we just want to feed all the children who show up,” she added. “The way we can do this though is through the volunteers who make it possible.”

The program has a staff of 12 who arrive at Smith-Cotton Junior High at 6 a.m. to begin the meal preparation.

“We do have some paid employees who do most of the food preparation,” said Valarie Schultz, food service director for the program. “Virtually everything else from the packaging to the delivery is done by our volunteers.

“It takes a lot of planning and this year we really have been doing a lot more homemade meals for the kids,” she added. “Everything that we serve meets all of the federal guidelines for nutrition but we try to provide a variety of meals.”

Nancy Boles, head cook for the program, added that this year they have served meals ranging from homemade chicken and noodles to some international meals including Asian and Mexican-inspired dishes.

After the food is prepared, the volunteers step in to package the food while others deliver the meals to an average of 56 sites daily throughout Pettis, Cooper, Morgan and Benton counties.

“One of the ways that we provide help to Open Door is to bring together our funded partners with the mobilization of volunteers to help provide services to others,” said Staci Harrison, executive director of Sedalia-Pettis County United Way. “Lately, we’ve been reaching out to rural schools to ensure they have access to the services that we and our funded agencies provide.

“Open Door is a partner in that,” she added. “It is tremendous what they do and we all have a role in helping Sedalia and the surrounding communities.”

Each day an average of 72 volunteers help with the Food Service Program and Wednesday was no exception.

“(Wednesday) is one of our Corporate Volunteer Days of Service,” said Robert Hostetler, compliance farm auditor for Vital Farms. “We’re based out of Austin, Texas, and we operate free-range chicken farms.

“We have an egg-grading facility nearby, Mid-States Specialty Eggs, and some of the employees from that facility and out of Kansas City came down today to help here and at the (Open Door Thrift) Store.

“I think it’s been an awesome experience helping today,” he added. “I hope we have the chance to do this again soon.”

Volunteers do not have to work every day to help and for Foster that is one of the unique features of the program.

“Each day we have a group of people who just show up and help volunteer,” Foster said. “Many of them have never met one another or ever worked together but they come here and they just pick up and go.

“Without all of our volunteers our program definitely wouldn’t have morphed into what it is now,” she added. “We are all extremely grateful for the time that all of the individuals who help and volunteer have provided, we couldn’t do this without them.”

Individuals or organizations who would like to volunteer at the Summer Lunch Program may contact Foster at Open Door by calling 660-596-3922.

Robert Hostetler, center, and Juan Astorga, both of Vital Farms, serve mashed potatoes and gravy into food serving containers as they volunteer Wednesday at the Open Door Summer Food Program at Smith-Cotton Junior High. Vital Farms sent 20 volunteers to help at Open Door on Wednesday at both the food program and the Open Door Thrift Store as part of their Day of Service.
http://sedaliademocrat.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/web1_tsd063016opendoor1.jpgRobert Hostetler, center, and Juan Astorga, both of Vital Farms, serve mashed potatoes and gravy into food serving containers as they volunteer Wednesday at the Open Door Summer Food Program at Smith-Cotton Junior High. Vital Farms sent 20 volunteers to help at Open Door on Wednesday at both the food program and the Open Door Thrift Store as part of their Day of Service. Hope Lecchi | Democrat

Julie Johnson, a volunteer at the Open Door Summer Food Program, prepares the food serving containers for packaging Wednesday morning in the cafeteria at Smith-Cotton Junior High. Each day an average of 72 volunteers deliver 900 hot meals daily to children 18 and younger in four counties.
http://sedaliademocrat.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/web1_tsd063016opendoor2.jpgJulie Johnson, a volunteer at the Open Door Summer Food Program, prepares the food serving containers for packaging Wednesday morning in the cafeteria at Smith-Cotton Junior High. Each day an average of 72 volunteers deliver 900 hot meals daily to children 18 and younger in four counties. Hope Lecchi | Democrat

Shelly Smasal spoons fruit cocktail into a serving container Wednesday morning in the cafeteria at Smith-Cotton Junior High. Smasal, a cook for the Open Door Summer Lunch Program, helps to prepare an average of 900 meals daily for area children.
http://sedaliademocrat.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/web1_tsd063016opendoor3.jpgShelly Smasal spoons fruit cocktail into a serving container Wednesday morning in the cafeteria at Smith-Cotton Junior High. Smasal, a cook for the Open Door Summer Lunch Program, helps to prepare an average of 900 meals daily for area children. Hope Lecchi | Democrat

Isabella Oswald, a volunteer, arranges chicken nuggets on a baking sheet before placing them in the oven to bake Wednesday morning as part of the Open Door Summer Lunch Program meal for the day. Wednesday’s menu featured mashed potatoes and gravy and fruit cocktail with milk.
http://sedaliademocrat.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/web1_tsd063016opendoor4.jpgIsabella Oswald, a volunteer, arranges chicken nuggets on a baking sheet before placing them in the oven to bake Wednesday morning as part of the Open Door Summer Lunch Program meal for the day. Wednesday’s menu featured mashed potatoes and gravy and fruit cocktail with milk. Hope Lecchi | Democrat

Caden Stockwill carries a tray of chicken nuggets Wednesday morning while volunteering at the Open Door Summer Lunch Program. According to Sue Foster, Open Door Summer Food Coordinator, more than 900 children ages 18 and younger are provided a free hot lunch daily through the program. The program relies on volunteers who are invaluable, Foster said, in allowing the program to serve the youth of Pettis and three additional counties.
http://sedaliademocrat.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/web1_tsd063016opendoor5.jpgCaden Stockwill carries a tray of chicken nuggets Wednesday morning while volunteering at the Open Door Summer Lunch Program. According to Sue Foster, Open Door Summer Food Coordinator, more than 900 children ages 18 and younger are provided a free hot lunch daily through the program. The program relies on volunteers who are invaluable, Foster said, in allowing the program to serve the youth of Pettis and three additional counties. Hope Lecchi | Democrat

By Hope Lecchi

[email protected]

Hope Lecchi can be reached at 660-826-1000 ext. 1484.

Sedalia Democrat

Hope Lecchi can be reached at 660-826-1000 ext. 1484.

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