Blessing Boxes aim to address food insecurity

Joplin Area Coronavirus

JOPLIN, Mo. — It’s been 6-months since the pandemic started–many people still struggling–just trying to figure out where their next meal will come from.

Shawna Ackerson, Blessing Box Donor, said, “A lot of working families, not just homeless, not just the poor income families. They definitely need it.”

Local groups are stepping up to address food insecurity in Joplin by setting up–and filling up blessing boxes.

“There’s people that you know can’t get food stamps that are still trying to work, that are being cut hours that this will help.”

Shawna says you never know what you may find inside a blessing box. There’s everything from produce, to hamburger helper, even poptarts. There’s also school supplies, for students who may be in need.

“To be a blessing to somebody that’s why it’s called blessing box So you can give food and you can take food and so it’s a blessing either way.”

Some residents think the idea is great on paper–but don’t want it in their backyard.

Mary Anne Phillips, Murphysburg Resident, said, “It’s a great idea if you’re going to help your neighborhood, but when you put it in an alley, you attract people who wouldn’t normally be there and we just have a lot of problems in our neighborhood already.”

One of the boxes sits in the alley in front of Phillips garage–creating a safety hazard for her.

“We had people stealing things out of our garages. We just don’t need that kind of traffic. I don’t feel like it’s helping anybody, especially the homeowners who have invested in their homes.”

Ackerson says she wants to see more boxes installed–some possibly sponsored by businesses.

“I say that it helps those people and those people won’t be vandalizing because you’re giving to them so you won’t have to worry about vandalization, you won’t have to worry about them hanging around because they’ll just come get what they need and leave,” said Ackerson.

“If people need food, they’re welcome to go to food pantries, Joplin has a lot of them and that way you know it’s safe. You know the food hasn’t sat out in the sun for who knows how long,” said Phillips.

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