Food giveaways across county feed hundreds of residents

The First Baptist Church fresh produce boxes include a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables. This July 19 box included apples, celery, blueberries, carrots, potatoes, zucchini, tomatoes, peaches, lettuce and cantaloupe.

Gainesville’s First Baptist Church has given away free boxes of fresh produce to area residents almost weekly since June 23. Gainesville resident Sheena Taylor, and sons David, right, and Elliott, were the happy recipients of a food box delivered to their door by FBC in the church van on July 19.

The July 23 food giveaway at Lutie School distributed boxes of fruit, vegetables, yogurt, cheese, bread and other grocery items to more than 400 people. Volunteers who helped distribute the food included, from left: Ric Engelhart, Heath Treat, Madison Reardon, Haley Kruszewski, Lisa Engelhardt, Morgan Smith, Abby Dean, Rebecca Scott, Brittney Veach, Amy Lane, Kathalee Cole, Misty Souder and Jody Baugh.

Lutie superintendent Scot Young, front, and principal Amy Lane have helped distribute food at the Lutie School giveaways since the first distribution on April 30. The boxes of food, pictured behind the two administrators, include produce, meat, dairy and other grocery items.

The Ozark County Food Pantry will operate out of its new location, on Highway 160/5 across the highway from Chaney Monument, beginning in August. The next food distributions will be 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 5, and 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 12.

Schools, churches and organizations around the county are working to organize a variety of upcoming food giveaways to ensure that no family in Ozark County goes hungry. Information on three upcoming events is listed below. 

Those organizing future food-giveaway or community-support events are encouraged to contact the Ozark County Times to have the event included in upcoming edition. Call 417-679-4641 or email


Lutie serves 175 families at July giveaway, next event is Aug. 10

A food giveaway will be held from 9:30 to 11 a.m. Monday, Aug. 10, at Lutie School. There are no residency, income or other requirements, and the boxes are available for all community members to receive. Call Lutie School at 417-273-4274 to sign up to receive a free box of food during the giveaway. Organizers say residents can pick up additional boxes for home bound or other family members who are unable to be at the Aug. 10 event. 

The July 23 food giveaway at Lutie School served 175 families including more than 400 people, organizers say. The joint effort was organized by Lutie School, Salem General Baptist Church and Ozark Food Harvest. 

“We put a team together today of Republicans, Democrats, Independents, adults and kids to hand out a semi-truck load of food…. It’s not that hard, folks, to come together. You just have to care about the people,” a post on the Lutie School Facebook page said. “It was hot on the asphalt, but these warriors hung in there and did an excellent job.”

The effort has grown each month since it was started in April. The first giveaway April 30 provided food for 50 families. The second giveaway on June 19 provided food for 150 families. The July 23 giveaway provided food for 175 families. The group expects to have even more boxes at the Aug. 11 giveaway.

The food boxes are provided to all residents who want them. There are no income, residency or other requirements to receive the food from the Lutie giveaways. 


Ozark County Food Pantry - Wednesdays, Aug. 5 and 12

The next Ozark County Food Pantry will be held from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 5, and from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., Wednesday, Aug. 12, at the food pantry’s new building on Highway 160/5 across the road from Chaney Monument.

The distribution will again operate as a drive-thru event due to concerns related to the COVID-19 virus, a process that has continued since April.

Those participating in the food pantry should remain in their vehicles and line up in the parking lot and on the roadway. The only requirement at this time is that those receiving food from the pantry are Ozark County residents. 

Those who are new to the food pantry are asked to bring a photo ID and proof of residence such as an electric bill or other bill in the resident’s name with an Ozark County address. When the food pantry returns to normal after pandemic concerns have eased, income requirements will be reinstated; however, proof of income will not be required this month.

For more information, call the Ozark County Health Department, 417-679-3334.


First Baptist Church fresh produce giveaway - Thursdays

The First Baptist Church in Gainesville is hosting free fresh-produce distributions weekly, usually on Thursdays. Visit the “First Baptist Church - Gainesville” Facebook page for weekly distribution times, or call the church at 417-679-4473 for more information. 

FBC Pastor Mason Eslinger said the food, provided in cooperation with the Missouri Baptist Association, will be distributed first come, first served to those who drive up to the church’s basement door on Second Street in Gainesville next to the Robert Burns Masonic Lodge. 

The church held its first fresh-produce distribution on June 23, and the events have continued almost weekly since then. 

To maintain social distancing, volunteers will be standing outside, Eslinger said. Those wishing to pick up food will pull up to the basement door, open a car door or window, and the volunteer will set the food in their vehicles. 

The produce boxes include such items as apples, potatoes, celery, tomatoes carrots, peppers and other fruits and vegetables. There are no requirements to qualify for the food distribution, he said. “It’s open to everyone who needs it.”

Ozark County Times

504 Third Steet
PO Box 188
Gainesville, MO 65655

Phone: (417) 679-4641
Fax: (417) 679-3423