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Christian County Food Pantry Needs Help Meeting Challenge Grant for New Facility

A food pantry in Christian County that serves more than 2,000 people each month is raising money for a new facility.  And this week, Least of These, Inc. announced it has received a challenge grant from the J. E. and L. E. Mabee (MAY-bee) Foundation in Tulsa to help it towards its goal.  KSMU’s Michele Skalicky has more.

Least of These, Inc., on Kathryn St. in Nixa, is currently in a space that was never meant to house a busy food pantry.  Its executive director, Bonnie Schooler, said they have their eye on a big warehouse within five miles of their current location that would allow them to serve the hungry in the county much more efficiently.  Least of These currently helps around 2300 people each month.

The organization kicked off the public phase of its capital campaign, the More than Food Project, Wednesday by announcing a challenge grant from the Mabee Foundation.

According to Kristy Carter, director of development for Least of These, the capital campaign includes the acquisition and renovation of an 18,000 square foot facility.

"That will increase capacity to meet the growing needs of Christian County's hungry families, provide functional space for operating efficiency and create sustainability and stability for our organization's future," she said.

Least of These currently offers help with food, clothing, hygiene items and household items.  Schooler said they hope to offer more than that at the new facility.

"Our hope is that we will have the funding to establish a multi-purpose classroom so we can do more client education--nutritional education, maybe resume help or life skills coaching-type things," she said.

The grant from the Mabee (MAY-bee) Foundation in Tulsa would mean an extra $300,000 for the organization to purchase the new space.  So far, Least of These has received more than $800,000 in gifts and pledges in their first multi-million dollar campaign called The More than Food Project, but, in order to receive the grant, a total of $1.6 million must be raised by the end of the year.