Co-Mo gives grant for Food Bank’s Buddy Pack program

Co-Mo Electric Cooperative recently passed along a $5,000 grant to the Food Bank for Central and Northeast Missouri’s Buddy Pack program. At the grant presentation June 26, from left, are Finance Manager Sean Friend, CEO/General Manager Ken Johnson, Co-Mo Food Bank Project Coordinator Rachel Thowe, Food Bank Southern Regional Coordinator Betsy Dudenhoeffer, and CoBank Vice President Seth Hart.

Co-Mo Electric Cooperative recently passed along a $5,000 grant to the Food Bank for Central and Northeast Missouri’s Buddy Pack program. At the grant presentation June 26, from left, are Finance Manager Sean Friend, CEO/General Manager Ken Johnson, Co-Mo Food Bank Project Coordinator Rachel Thowe, Food Bank Southern Regional Coordinator Betsy Dudenhoeffer, and CoBank Vice President Seth Hart.

Co-Mo Electric Cooperative passed along a $5,000 grant to the Food Bank June 26 for Central and Northeast Missouri’s Buddy Pack program.

The grant, earned through a charitable program of one of Co-Mo’s lenders, matches the $5,000 Co-Mo contributed to the Food Bank at its 75th annual meeting in May, and will be used to provide food to children in the cooperative’s service territory who might otherwise go hungry.

“One of the cooperative principles is ‘Concern for Community,’ and for us, that concern is genuine, even more so when it comes to children,” said Ken Johnson, the cooperative’s chief executive officer and general manager. “These kids served by the Buddy Pack program are our friends and neighbors.”

The funds for the grant came through CoBank, the Colorado-based cooperative bank, and its Sharing Success program. It is the third consecutive year Co-Mo has applied for and received a $5,000 grant through this program.

“Shared success is at the core of the cooperative business model and it is the very definition of cooperation,” said Seth Hart, CoBank Vice President, who was on hand to present the check. “To share that success with children just makes it that much more special.”

The Sharing Success program was started in 2012 to coincide with the International Year of Cooperatives, a worldwide recognition of the role cooperatives have played and continued to play in the betterment of rural communities across the globe. The program was renewed in 2013 and again in 2014.

“Across rural America, cooperatives of all kinds are supporting charitable organizations and working to advance the growth and development of their communities. Sharing Success enables CoBank to leverage that local knowledge and expertise and provide assistance to causes that our customers care deeply about,” said Bob Engel, CoBank’s chief executive officer.

Approximately 56,000 students in the Food Bank’s service area qualify for free and reduced-priced school meals. For many of them, breakfast and lunch at school offer the only source of reliable nutrition and they are at risk of hunger over the weekend.

To alleviate this risk, The Food Bank partners with elementary schools to provide Buddy Packs to school children. Buddy Packs are backpacks filled with kid-friendly, nutritious food that students take home over the weekend or holiday periods to supplement their meals when there is not enough for them to eat at home. After the weekend, the kids bring their empty Buddy Pack back to school to be refilled by local volunteers.

During the school year, the Buddy Pack program helps feed more than 6,000 children each week. The grant is just one measure through which Co-Mo has supported the Buddy Pack program over the past four years. The cooperative has a continuing food drive for its members and employees to bring kid-friendly food at either of its offices. Peanut butter is in particularly high demand. Cash donations payable to the food back can also be dropped off at Co-Mo.

For more information on the program, visit sharefoodbringhope.org.

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