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Be wary of turtles crossing roads throughout Clay County this spring.

Missouri 4-H’ers across the state need generous donors to give a hand in the final weeks of the 4-H Feeding Missouri food drive, which ends April 30.

To help reach its 2021 goal, Missouri 4-H asks Missourians to donate online at FeedingMissouri.org/4H or text “4HFM2021” to 44-321 to donate.

“Every $1 donated buys 10 meals for a family,” said Lupita Fabregas, director of the University of Missouri Extension 4-H Center for Youth Development. “If everyone gave just $5, that would be the helping hand we need to double the amount we have collected so far to serve hungry Missourians.”

Even with in-person food drives, fundraising and other activities curtailed due to the pandemic, 4-H members across the state still raised the equivalent of more than 88,000 meals.

One in six children in Missouri struggle with hunger. With job losses and reduced hours related to COVID-19 restrictions, the need for food assistance has grown. This year, local food banks report spending 300% more trying to keep pace with the growing demand, according to a release.

“The 4-H Feeding Missouri drive, with our great Drive to Feed Kids partners, comes at such an important time for us to help those continuing to struggle with food insecurity in our state,” said Marshall Stewart, MU vice chancellor for extension and engagement.

Donations go directly to Feeding Missouri, a coalition of the state’s six major food banks that provides hunger relief through a network of more than 1,600 community-based food programs in every county and the city of St. Louis.

“The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have put unprecedented strains on existing community resources, like food banks, with so many people out of work,” said Chris Baker, resource development manager of Feeding Missouri.

4-H Feeding Missouri is held in partnership with the Missouri Farmers Care Drive to Feed Kids campaign, which raises awareness about food insecurity and increases resources for the Feeding Missouri network of food banks.

“We are thrilled to support 4-H Feeding Missouri,” said Ashley McCarty, Missouri Farmers Care executive director. “The Drive to Feed Kids and its partners demonstrate the heart of Missouri agriculture. In the final weeks of this effort, we are encouraged by the passion Missouri 4-H members are pouring into 4-H Feeding Missouri and our shared goal of reducing food insecurity.”

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