Perfect Storm Hits Christian Action Ministries (CAM)

September 20, 2011… When all of the forces of nature come together to wreak havoc in New England, they call it a “perfect storm”. Today in Taney County, Christian Action Ministries is wrestling with the forces of economics and scarcity in the distribution of food through their two pantries and mobile outreach.

CAM relies on several factors to keep the food shelves stocked.

• The federal commodity program is a monthly delivery from Ozarks Food Harvest of specific items generated through federal programs. These normally include about 8 to 9 different items such as frozen meat, canned vegetables and fruit, 32- ounce cans of fruit juice, peanut butter, and more.
• Purchasing of food that has been collected by Ozarks Food Harvest at a very nominal cost per pound, generally ranging from 14 to 24 cents per pound. From cereal to canned meats and meals, this accounts for a significant amount of the food distributed within Taney County.
• Purchasing of food from local grocery stores at a quantity discount to supplement the food supply.
• Food donated through local food drives.
• Local cash donations enabling CAM to purchase food and cover operational overhead.

The current problems impacting CAM include reduced receipt of federal commodities, reduced availability of food to purchase through Ozarks Food Harvest, and decreased cash contributions. Compounding all of this is dramatically increased demand for CAM’s services as executive director Pat Davis explained, “We haven’t been able to catch our breath before the winter demand this year. Over 1,400 hundred families requested help in August and that’s about 1,000 more than normal.”

Federal Commodities

No one at CAM is aware of the specific reasons, but the monthly federal commodity delivery has been reduced to just three items for the last two months. Board treasurer Dave Hoy said, “This month we’re only receiving frozen chicken, pasta, and pasta sauce. So in order to provide balanced nutrition we are forced to purchase canned vegetables and fruit to help supplement our inventory. And since supplies are low at Ozarks Food Harvest, we’ve had to purchase these items from local retailers at a higher cost. This is becoming extremely costly for CAM.”

The Food Bank

Ozarks Food Harvest, the regional food bank, is normally the primary resource for CAM’s purchases with warehouses full of food. Due to the demand of this year’s disasters and reduced donations from national sources, their shelves are pretty bare.
When CAM needed vegetables this past week, the food bank didn’t have any on hand. As a result CAM spent $649 to buy a pallet of 1,100 cans of vegetables from a local grocer. If it had been available through Ozarks Food Harvest, those vegetables would have only cost about $200.

The problem becomes even greater when you look at CAM’s purchase credits at the food bank. Board chairman Jack Burke explains, “We knew that demand was going up and donations were going down, so we were extremely excited at a grant opportunity that enabled us to double our money. Every dollar committed to Ozarks Food Harvest was doubled through this opportunity. As a result, we now have over $20,000 in food credits at the bank, but their supplies are so low we can’t really utilize this credit. Plus by committing those donations to the program, we have limited the money available to make purchases from outside retailers.”


Burke also said that cash donations for the year are down about 25% from last year with the biggest drop being in donations from businesses due to the sluggish economy.

According to Davis, “At this point in time we desperately need cash donations to enable us to continue purchasing food and we’re spending about five time the normal amount each month. But we also need more food drives, which will help decrease the amount of food we need to purchase. Hopefully the businesses that have had to cut back on their cash donations might be able to spearhead more food drives instead. We have faith that our community will rally to provide the support we need to balance our inventory and cover our overhead in God’s name.”

Christian Action Ministries operates food pantries in Branson and Forsyth, as well as a monthly mobile outreach to eastern Taney County communities. Year to date through August, CAM has already distributed nearly 160 tons of food to Taney County residents. Anyone wishing to organize a food drive, donate cash, food, or time, can call Pat Davis at 334-1157 or visit the CAM website at

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