Operation Food Search nutrition programs.

Operating in over 20 counties in and around St. Louis Missouri, Operation Food Search is one of the regions leading hunger fighting organizations. They partner with dozens of soup kitchens, churches, non-profit food pantries, and other organizations to battle poverty and hunger in Illinois as well as Missouri.

The resources available are extensive, and over 100,000 households receive help from them or a partner each month. An emergency hotline is also available and staff can refer callers to a pantry or program for their needs, or direct them to other solutions, such as public aid including WIC, free school lunches, and SNAP food stamps.

Hundreds of agencies in the Saint Louis city and county area, including in nearby Illinois, provide over two million pounds of free food, personal care items and non-perishable goods to the needy and low income. This is done on a monthly basis, and thousands of children, seniors, and entire families benefit from this Operation Food Search service. There are no restrictions on age, race, or religion, and anyone that is struggling can qualify.

Main programs from Operation Food Search

Free Summer Meals address year round support. Many studies show that summer is an important time for well being and ensuring nutrition is met. Free meals will be offered at many sites across Saint Louis and nearby counties such as Madison Illinois and Saint Charles. Locations of distribution can be a church, park, or any one of a number of non-profit community centers.

Operation Backpack is for students and children in the region. The program will offer a free weekend meal or food items to students from lower income families in the St. Louis metropolitan area. The reason it was created was to ensure the child has some type of meal over the weekend or holiday, when they obviously can’t benefit from any school lunches or breakfasts. So Operation Backpack helps those who now rely on free or subsidized government lunches.

The food is given to them discreetly, and the items are placed into their backpack so no other students know they are receiving the items. All goods provided will be nutritious as well as easy-to-prepare. This Operation Food Search coordinated program can sometimes even help during a holiday break as well, such as Thanksgiving or Christmas.




Advocacy and Nutrition Education is another service from Operation Food Search. Professionals as well as case managers from the non-profit hold classes on how to prepare meals, offer information on government aid, and address public health issues. There are presentations and classes held on cooking such as the Confident Cook and many other demonstrations. They are available across St. Louis County and nearby regions.

Learn about government sponsored programs. Operation Food Search can refer families in need to effective nutrition programs like free school breakfast, summer meals and after-school programs. More information on this can also be obtained from the hotline.

Many children in both public and private schools receive a free breakfast, which is a critical meal for educational success. Operation Food Search can advocate on behalf of parents to help ensure their child receives this.

Information is available at regional Child Care Centers, both in the city of St. Louis and nearby counties such as St. Clair and many others. There are also after school locations in the community. At these locations, the child can also receive a meal and other assistance.

For more details on these or other programs, call Hunger Hotline, which is a 24 hour service. Callers can get referred to a local pantries or any one of the food assistance programs referenced above. Those seeking help from this service are supplied with agency names, distribution points and telephone numbers of the programs. Dial the hotline at (314) 726-5355.



By Jon McNamara

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