Amber Brand [email protected]
Once a month, on Fridays from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., a line forms behind the Central Bank in Marshfield; sometimes even overflowing on the spur. The “conga” car line, which is hard to miss, is a representation of Destiny Church’s Wheel Fed Mobile Food Distribution event.
“It’s been about 18 months (since we started). It was originally Pain de Vie at Marshfield Christian. He transferred to us here at Destiny in January 2021,” Wheel Fed Director Ashton Hohensee explained. “Our pastor was approached by the director of the Christian church. From what I understand…the logistics of their location were blocking the highway,” added Becky Dobbs, food ordering manager for Wheel Fed.
Wheel Fed is a food distribution that works in conjunction with Ozarks Food Harvest to provide food to families in need. “We have Wheel Fed Day, which is basically a mobile food giveaway once a month. We also have our emergency pantry which can be used any time of the month,” Hohensee explained. “The actual day (the second Friday of each month) is considered mobile food distribution. We are outside, they don’t have to enter, they check in (from the queue) and we load into their vehicles.
“We serve about 275 families a month, which is about 600 to 650 people,” Hohensee explained. With rising food prices, an extension of income guidelines that now allow more families access to food items, and a steady increase in the number of families served each month, the Wheel Fed Committee knew it had to seek other means of financing its efforts.
“We recently applied for a grant from Ozark Food Harvest,” Dobbs explained. “It was available for over 300 people,” added Pantry Manager Candie McCormick. “They gave us guidelines on what we could and couldn’t ask for. I wrote the grant with input from this committee and our pastor on things we really needed. We got a response about three weeks ago and for the most part got everything we asked for. Dobbs shared with a smile.
“We requested a new industrial refrigerator, an outdoor storage shed, new shelving, five additional wagons that we use for distribution, and $20,000 to purchase food. We got all the items we asked for and $15,000 for food,” Hohensee explained. “We don’t get as much food as in the last six months… We don’t get a lot of meat. We have to buy meat to have it there for distribution. Before, … the government sent a lot of meat, we hardly get any meat now.
“The challenge is not knowing from month to month what we’re going to get,” Dobbs explained. “Even when we get a list of what we’re supposed to receive, shipping issues sometimes arise. Our truck will come and some items are not available. The distribution truck arrives the morning of the food distribution, with volunteers on site ready to unload and pack into the hundreds of waiting cars. “We’re doing our best,” Hohensee said when asked how they’re preparing for the truck and knowing that some items they ordered for distribution may be missing.
Ozark’s Food Harvest grant will help purchase food for distribution days. To supplement USDA food, Wheel Fed works with local businesses to provide food. “We got donations from Zimmerman’s Meat, people who donate cash/checks, Wal-Mart gives us donations twice a month,” Hohensee explained. “Fortunately, so far everything has worked out so that we have meat every month.”
Cash or check donations can be made to Wheel Fed either through the church or to one of the volunteers. For more information, you can leave a message at 417-501-5691 and a Wheel Fed volunteer will call you back.
“We have about 30 to 40 regular volunteers,” Hohensee said. “We would be very welcoming to anyone who would like to help us on our Fridays. This is a difficult work. We need people to unload the truck, people to help distribute the food, clean and load the cars. There are lots of jobs. If anyone is interested, they can come between 9:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. on distribution days,” Dobbs offered. Are you interested in volunteering but do you have children at home? “Children are more than welcome to help out. We have daycare for children 5 and under. We have jobs for everyone,” Hohensee added.
“It’s a very rewarding ministry,” Dobbs said. “We are so grateful that they (Ozarks Food Harvest) are here and able to help us meet the needs of the people and the needs of this community,” McCormick added. “We have been very lucky with our community and their involvement and with donations. Whenever we need something, it is always resolved and found. Our community is amazing,” Hohensee said.
The Wheel Fed distribution is available to anyone in Webster County who meets income guidelines or is currently receiving government assistance of (almost) any kind. Wheel Fed giveaways take place on the second Friday of each month from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Cars can use the utility road that runs behind the Central Bank to line up, follow signs, and look for volunteers directing traffic.