The 4-H Feeding Missouri drive ends April 30.

In the final month of the second annual 4-H Feeding Missouri statewide food drive, the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have put unprecedented demand on food banks and pantries across the state.

“With school and workplace closures, many vulnerable families will face an even greater risk of food insecurity,” said Lupita Fabregas, director of the University of Missouri Extension 4-H Center for Youth Development.

This year’s Missouri 4-H Feeding Missouri drive, which ends April 30, started as a friendly competition among 4-H clubs to raise the most in food donations, cash contributions and volunteer hours, according to a press release. With in-person local food drives, fundraising, volunteer service, and education and outreach activities suspended, Missouri 4-H has adapted the effort and asks Missourians to donate online: Visit www.FeedingMissouri.org/4H or text “4HFM2020” to 44-321.

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.

“This situation challenges all of us in different ways, but we are also seeing amazing resilience and outpourings of generosity,” said Marshall Stewart, MU vice chancellor for extension and engagement. “We are proud that local 4-H clubs across the state are part of the effort to help their fellow Missourians get the vital food supplies so many need during this time.”

“This unprecedented crisis has put so many people out of work and strained existing community resources,” said Chris Baker, resource development manager of Feeding Missouri. “As the immediate economic disruption takes its toll on businesses and families, the state’s food banks and food pantries will need an infusion of resources to help Missourians continue to put food on the table.”

Just $1 buys up to 10 meals for families, Baker said.

For this year’s effort, Missouri 4-H Feeding Missouri has partnered with Missouri Farmers Care for the Drive to Feed Kids campaign, which works to raise awareness of food insecurity and increase resources for the Feeding Missouri network of food banks.

“Truly, our 4-H Feeding Missouri effort — in partnership with Drive to Feed Kids — could not come at a better time of direct service to our state,” Stewart said.