Fair food drive alleviates local hunger

By Leah Wankum - For the Democrat

By Leah Wankum

For the Democrat

The Missouri State Fair’s fifth annual food drive is one way for visitors to support the fight against hunger in local ways.

“Many people think that hunger is only a problem in big cities or maybe it doesn’t affect them close their home,” said Kari Mergen, marketing director for the Missouri State Fair. “There are people in our own communities and homes in central Missouri, and that’s where the is food is going to go, to food banks in central Missouri.

“We’re doing what we can to alleviate food and security.”

All donated food will go to Feeding Missouri, a coalition of the six Missouri Food Banks that work to provide hunger relief throughout the state, according to the organization’s website.

Canned food donations are accepted every day of the fair, Aug.13-23, but Tuesday includes a special discount gate admission in exchange for donations. Fair-goers can exchange a canned food item for $1 off a gate admission coupon at the Centennial Gate Tuesday only.

The discount may not be combined with other offers and is restricted to a $5 maximum savings per adult ticket, regularly $10, $3 maximum savings per senior ticket, regularly $7, and $1 maximum savings per child ticket, regularly $2, according to the commission’s news release. Coupons are valid Tuesday only and may be redeemed at the gate admission ticket booths.

As a way of promoting the food drive and awareness of hunger, the Canstruction depicting a John Deere tractor was on display in the Agriculture Building, which consisted of more than 8,000 cans of food.

“The Canstruction project has over 8,000 cans that were donated by Bing’s grocery stores of Sedalia, and all of those cans will be donated to Feeding Missouri after the fair is over,” Mergen said.

The Canstruction is a trademarked professional design/build competition and community service project, according to the fair’s news release. Mid-Missouri’s architects, engineers, contractors and students create giant structures built with canned food.

Although the Canstruction was supposed to remain on display for the duration of the fair, Mergen said it is no longer on display because one of the boards supporting the exhibit gave way Saturday evening.

“One of the boards supporting the structure broke,” Mergen said. “It was determined that it was the best option to dismantle the project.

“The cans have been palletted and are ready for transport to contribute to Feeding Missouri along with the other canned food collected on Food Drive Day at the fair,” Mergen said. “Visitors can still watch a video of the exhibit being created at the Mo Farmers Care booth in the Agriculture Building, and all food will still be donated to Feeding Missouri.”

The annual food drive was established five years ago when the fair commission began a partnership with Missouri Farmers Care and Midwest and St. Louis Ford Dealers for the food drive.

“Since we started this five years ago, they’ve been great partners to work with, and they’ll be out collecting the food at the gates on Tuesday,” she said. “We’re really glad to have them as sponsors and partners with the project.”

Mergen said the food drive will also take monetary donations, and nearly $600 was donated last year. Even small monetary donations go a long way for alleviating hunger.

“Every dollar provides seven meals for someone,” Mergen said.

Leah Wankum is a freelance writer for the Democrat and a mass communication student at the University of Central Missouri.

Sedalia Democrat

Leah Wankum is a freelance writer for the Democrat and a mass communication student at the University of Central Missouri.

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